I was rather disturbed by some news reports a couple of weeks ago that said that Sun is considering merging its Sun Network conference in with JavaOne 2005 (see Sun postpones Network product event, for example). What's up with this?
Sun Network is a Sun-specific conference for its customers and partners that is firmly rooted in Sun's commercial interests. Most of the large vendors have one or more such conferences a year and, of course, they are well within their rights to do so. We'll all continue to do so while we can afford to hold the conferences. Moreover, the conferences morph over the years as times change. For example, since IBM nows Rational, we merged the old Rational Users Conference with IBM developerWorks Live. This makes sense and supports our customers and partners. Microsoft and others do similar things.
I thought JavaOne was supposed to be an industry event where any Java vendor or user who wishes to attend can do so and be part of the Java community. There they can represent their own interests or learn about what the rest of the industry or the Java Community Process is doing, but it is not supposed to be a lot of people there to support and further Sun. We're there to support and further Java. We're there to help accelerate the adoption of Java because we believe in the technology, its promise, and that it is supposed to be an open, non-proprietary technology. That's why I, at least, have gone to JavaOne in the past. Sure marketing goes on, but all the vendors do it and there is some balance.
If Sun Network merges in with JavaOne, will we all just be participants in a Sun infomercial? (As others have noted, it already has some infomercial tendencies.) Why would vendors pay the very hefty sponsorship fees to help Sun marketing? I'm not delusional in thinking that JavaOne isn't important to the Sun marketing organization and I know they spend a lot of money on it, so they get the right to be very visible. They even get to have keynotes where they bash other sponsors ... :-) .That said, they walk a fine line between keeping the focus on Java vs. Sun. Merging Sun Network with JavaOne would completely cross over the line toward making this an explicitly Sun event. At that point it becomes a lot less interesting as a community get-together.
I believe the Java community will keep growing and growing. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the sheer number of specs on JDocs shows the health of the Java world beyond the offical Java Community Process. IBM is firmly behind helping Java grow and grow into new areas.
So this is my request to Sun: keep the community JavaOne and Sun-specific Sun Network conferences separate. From what I've read, Sun has not made a final decision. I urge you to err on the side of the community on this one.
What do you think?
What is JavaOne?
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