In a bid to calm fears that it might not adhere to rival Sun Microsystems' branded Java platform, IBM last week publicly claimed it indeed licenses the platform and plans to adhere to it. Sun, however, continued to insist that IBM isn't a licensee.
IBM's proclamation doesn't change any of the Java tools or capabilities available to users, but if it's true, several users said, it reassures them that the company will adhere to the Sun specification and not embark on a separate Java course.
IBM now says that it is, and always has been, a Java 2 Enterprise Edition licensee. It's the first time the company has made such a pledge.
"We have contractual rights to all [of Sun's] Java extensions, so we were a J2EE licensee by default before anyone else," said Scott Hebner, director of e-business marketing at IBM. Hebner said IBM has had legally binding, long-term rights to all Java platforms and standard extensions supported by Sun since 1995.
However, Sun officials denied those claims. "IBM is not a licensee at this time," said Rick Saletta, product line manager for J2EE at Sun. "We want to work out the business differences with IBM and are extending an olive branch." Saletta said Sun wants to invite IBM back to the negotiating table to work out a licensing deal.
Bill Roth, group product marketing manager for J2EE at Sun, said he was "struck by this complete reversal" in IBM's stance but added, "We're happy to see the flip-flop. It shows us that this is a solvable problem."For months, IBM has been cautious not to endorse Sun's J2EE specification, while simultaneously pledging to support the technical aspects of J2EE. IBM refused to use the J2EE brand name, and the company's name didn't appear with the 19 other J2EE licensees released by Sun at the JavaOne conference in the US earlier this month.
Analysts said IBM, a staunch Java partisan for the past five years, had sought to wrestle some control of Java from Sun by delaying its endorsement, but the strategy backfired.
Hebner said, the point of contention with Sun concerns marketing, not technical Java development issues.