Java growth in New Zealand doubles in four years

Software developers are facing much more complexity compared with five years ago, says Matt Thompson, Sun's director of Technology Outreach and the corporation's open source program office.

Thompson, keynote speaker at Sun's developer conference held in Wellington, New Zealand, last week, emphasizes the huge number of choices today's developers have.

"Five years ago they ran the shop. Today, they're driven by dollars and time."

More than 130 Java developers attended the Wellington conference, the first of such size Sun has held in the capital. The company has now decided to alternate the annual event between Wellington and Auckland.

"My job is to educate developers so they understand where we're going, and to enable them with tools," Thompson says. "We make no money off the developers directly. Rather, we hope to make it when their applications are deployed, hopefully on our hardware and solutions."

By solutions he means the Java enterprise system, the business stack on which the applications are built.

"We've turned over our entire Java platform and tools in the past four months," he says. That means new versions of NetBeans, J2EE, Java Studio Creator and Java SE. "All Runtime is now free for developers."

There are 3,000 Java developers in New Zealand who have joined the Sun community. Typically, one out of every three developers sign up in most countries.

Thompson says research company IDC's figures show there are 14,000 software developers in New Zealand, 10,000 of whom use Java at some time.

"Growth [of Java developers] has doubled in New Zealand in the past four years. Only India and China are doing those numbers. The cost of development in India and China is very low but the value of New Zealand developers to us is high because they are at a much higher leverage point."

Thompson says he met with a telco -- he wouldn't name which one -- on a trip to New Zealand a few years ago, when Sun was looking at offshoring its development work to India, but Sun was now "coming back the other way" because of the higher level of New Zealand skills.

"Things are going on in the internet market here that look as if they could have a global presence."

Thompson's key message was that software innovation is driving IT infrastructure, where ten years ago the driver was hardware.

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