Rod had an amusing and interesting session at EclipseCON titled The Future of Enterprise Java. In the session he spoke about innovation in general and sources of Enterprise Java innovation in particular (more on this later in this post).

He discussed how the JCP is like the Russian Commissar who was tasked with doing what is “in the best interest” of the people, but sometimes gets in the way (of innovation). Rod went on to highlight how political motivations in the JCP hurt customers. He gave several examples including, most recently, Sun attempting to reinvent a sub-optimal alternative to OSGi (with JSR-277) when OSGi exists as a standard already. Apparently this is happening even though IBM, Oracle and BEA would rather utilize OSGi within the JEE spec. Here’s the deck from Rod.

Rod talked about the three sources of innovation in Enterprise Java:

  • The Cathedral (proprietary vendors)
  • The Bazaar (OSS vendors)
  • Commissar (the JCP)

Rod challenged the notion that the Bazaar model is the best or only way forward. Rod claimed (near quotes):

“The bazaar model encourages competition in implementation, but may not produce innovation.

….

The cathedral model is more likely to produce innovation. Remember that Eclipse began as a cathedral project from IBM.

….

Now, the combination of the bazaar model and the cathedral model drive innovation to a much higher degree than either would alone.”

Until now, I’ve always considered the cathedral vs. bazaar models to be mutually exclusive choices. But upon reflection, Rod used the Cathedral & Bazaar metaphors to state what I’ve long believed about the future of the software market. Namely, that the combined use of the OSS model and the proprietary software model is the future. I’ve seen (and lived through) proof that proprietary vendors are learning from OSS vendors. Are OSS vendors doing the same with lessons from proprietary vendors? Or have OSS proponents led OSS vendors to believe that there is nothing to be learned from “the past”. I hope not.