Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The Life and Death of OC4J

Once upon a time, two smart Swedes wrote a J2EE server called Orion and formed a company Ironflare to sell it. Orion server was totally different from all the other J2EE containers out there: it's light weight, blazing fast and dirt cheap (only a couple of grand USD for a commercial license, which was unheard of in the heyday of IT and internet)! It soon gained traction and almost gained a cult status in the J2EE world.

Then came the 21st century. In 2001, Oracle licensed Orion and created OC4J. The two smart Swedes from Ironflare moved with it and worked on OC4J for Oracle. Therefore, the Orion server and the website was virtually dead. However, Orion's heart still beats inside OC4J's body - you could even see the words 'orion' inside some of OC4J's configuration files. OC4J then became the core of Oracle Application Server for over half a decade, during which time the Oracle AS had grown to a humongous beast.

In January 2008, Oracle announced the merger with BEA, which created great FUD among OC4J and Weblogic communities - they were speculating whether Oracle will kill off Weblogic or OC4J. Yesterday, Oracle finally sounded the death knell for OC4J by announcing the release of Oracle Weblogic Server 10g R3 - it threw its weight behind WLS and is abandoning OC4J. This will no doubt create panick among OC4J user communities. I worked for a company whose core technology was Oracle Forms (yes, you heard that right!) and they used to be relatively calm about it because Oracle offered a migration path from Oracle Forms to its JSF framework, and for the meantime you can still run the Oracle Forms on Oracle AS 9i as Java applets (no longer supported in 10g though). Now that OC4J will disappear, that will certainly motivate them to migrate off the Oracle Forms technology sooner.

I don't believe the two smart Swedes will go back to resurrect Orion server because there are several free JavaEE servers nowadays, which take away the incentive for people to use Orion. Besides, Orion has been disconnected with the Java community for so long, it's fan base has all but evaporated.

Orion & OC4J

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