Sun, IBM Forge Java, WebSphere Pacts

Sun and IBM extend their longstanding Java licensing agreement for 11 more years, and IBM pledges to offer WebSphere and its entire IBM middleware stack on Solaris.

IBM has renewed its Java licensing agreement with Sun for another decade and pledged to make all of its WebSphere software available on Solaris.

Sun's president and COO, Jonathan Schwartz, and IBM Software Group's senior vice president and group executive, Steve Mills, announced at the JavaOne conference that the two companies have extended their longstanding Java licensing agreement for another 11 years. Mills joined Schwartz on stage via a video link.

As part of that extended agreement, IBM will make available its entire middleware stack — including WebSphere, Tivoli and MQSeries — available on Sun's Solaris 10 Unix operating system running on AMD and Sun's Sparc architecture, the companies said.

IBM is a heavy pusher of Linux but supports its own Unix OS, known as AIX, and competes against Sun's Java Enterprise Server stack.

Sun did not require IBM to provide its middleware stack on Solaris as a condition for renewing its Java licensing with Sun, Schwartz insisted. "It wasn't a precondition to anything," Schwartz said in response to a question posed to Sun during a press conference held after the keynote on Monday.

However, during his address earlier on Monday, Schwartz acknowledged that relations between the two long-time Java partners have been strained recently, particularly since Sun signed its historic pact with Microsoft more than a year ago.

"We've had a bit of a chill in our relationship with IBM," Schwartz said, noting that Sun's warming to Microsoft and Fujitsu may have contributed to tensions with Big Blue. But he said the two companies spent a year hammering out a workable deal.

Schwartz said Sun and IBM may "start a dialogue" around portals as well.

At the press conference, Sun CEO Scott McNealy said the deal with IBM was not a rubber-stamp extension on Java. "It only took a year," McNealy quipped.

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