Oracle giving student coders free access to JavaOne

The move follows Google technologist Tim Bray's contention that Oracle doesn't care about developer 'mindshare'

Oracle is hoping to entice a younger generation of Java programmers into its fold by offering students complimentary admission to the upcoming JavaOne and Oracle Develop conferences.

To qualify for a Discover Pass to the conferences, qualifying students must be 18 years old, enrolled in a nonprofit, accredited institution, and taking at least six course units, according to an official blog post Wednesday.

The passes provide access to keynote speeches and a number of exhibition halls, as well as a special Java Frontier sessions track aimed at students. They can also enjoy technical sessions, hands-on lab events and "Birds-of-a-Feather" networking sessions -- space permitting.

The announcement comes a day after Google technologist Tim Bray wrote a blog post that suggested Oracle doesn't place great importance on developing "mindshare" among software developers.

Bray, who co-invented XML, previously worked for Sun Microsystems, which was acquired by Oracle this year. He did not remain with Oracle, instead taking a developer advocate role at Google. In his blog post Tuesday, he recalled a conversation from last year in which he asked an unnamed individual with "a convincing title" why the Oracle Develop show was a "second-rate sidebar" to OpenWorld.

Oracle is more interested in the relationship between "an Oracle business expert and a customer business leader ... The concerns of developers are just not material at that level," the person reportedly said.

The vendor's outreach to student programmers regarding the upcoming events shows the company has far from abandoned efforts to grow its developer community.

But the essence of Bray's post rings true, due to the nature of Oracle's business, according to Redmonk analyst Michael Coté.

"Oracle certainly likes developers, no doubt," he said. "[But] Oracle's core business model is cemented in enterprise product lines and milking revenue from them -- Siebel, PeopleSoft, Oracle databases and now Java," he said.

Most large companies are already sizable users of those technologies, Coté said. Therefore, Oracle has no need to court developers like an open-source company would in order to generate "viral, bottom-up sales," he said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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