Monday, May 23, 2005

Eclipse: Behind the Name

Eclipse: Behind the Name
What's in a name?

Back in 2003, when Sun Microsystems Inc. was considering whether it might join the then soon-to-be-independent Eclipse Foundation, one of the key concerns, aside from technical issues, was the name Eclipse.

Sun said it would not join an organization named Eclipse, and the foundation agreed to change the name. The Santa Clara, Calif., company didn't want to join an organization whose name was perceived as encouraging the demise of Sun, company executives said at the time.

It turned out Sun wasn't the target of the Eclipse moniker, though. In his keynote at the EclipseCon 2005 conference in March, Lee Nackman, chief technology officer and vice president of Design, Construction, and Test Tools at IBM's Rational Software division, said Microsoft Corp. was actually the company IBM wanted to "eclipse" and was the true object of IBM's attention.

"Our target was Microsoft," Nackman said. "Microsoft was clearly the market leader and was on a path to become the dominant tools platform. It was clear there'd be competition for developers… So around 1998 we felt, key to the competition around application servers and middleware, we needed to bring developers to Java-based middleware ... IBM's middleware business depended on bringing developers to our Java-based middleware."

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