IBM on Monday threw its support behind Oracle's OpenJDK (Java Development Kit) plans, abandoning its work with Apache's Harmony Java project - the underlying technology Oracle has disputed Google could freely use in its Android operating system.
OpenJDK was the free open source Java implementation created by Sun in 2006 prior to its acquisition in 2009 by Oracle.
IBM had previously focussed its Java development efforts on the uncertified Apache Harmony project, parts of which were used by Google to allow Android to run Java code.
"IBM will be shifting its development effort from the Apache Project Harmony to OpenJDK," IBM's vice president of open systems and Linux Bob Sutor wrote on his personal blog.
While Rod Smith, vice president, emerging technologies, IBM, said the partnership was good news for enterprise customers, Sutor described Big Blue's partnership with Oracle as a "pragmatic choice".
"It became clear to us that first Sun and then Oracle were never planning to make the important test and certification tests for Java, the Java SE TCK, available to Apache. We disagreed with this choice, but it was not ours to make," according to Sutor.
"So rather than continue to drive Harmony as an unofficial and uncertified Java effort, we decided to shift direction and put our efforts into OpenJDK."
IBM's decision could pose a problem for Google's Android operating system, which, according to InfoWorld blogger, Josh Fruhlinger, relied on Harmony to run Java code.
The main problem - outside the two giants' legal stoush over Android and Java - would be that developers shift attention away from Harmony to Oracle's OpenJDK.
Pappa Java gives it thumbs up
The IBM-Oracle OpenJDK partnership, however, was given a tentative thumbs-up by a small but vocal thorn in Oracle's side - Java language founder, James Gosling.
IBM and Oracle said in its official statement that efforts on the OpenJDK project would focus on the open source implementation of the Java Platform, the Java SE specification, the Java Development Kit and the Java Runtime Environment.
The two also said that Java Community Process (JCP) - the group which ratified new Java specifications - would remain as the "primary standards body".
JCP members, which included Google and almost every major IT and communications vendor, reportedly supported a motion prior to Oracle's OpenWorld conference for the JCP to be "vendor neutral" - a move that was opposed solely by Oracle, according to a report by The Register.
"The JCP logjam has been a huge problem for the last few years, despite many attempts on Sun's part to make progress," according to Gosling.
"Does this break the logjam? Only time will tell, but I'd sure be happy if it does."
Gosling noted that when Sun's attempts to enact an Oracle-IBM style partnership failed.
"When Sun was trying to do this, the Oracle/IBM version of a solution effectively amounted to Sun taking a vow of poverty."