Oracle’s Willingness to Revamp Java and Update Cycle via Community Is a Turning Point

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • The application development industry gathers next week at JavaOne to weigh in on Java’s fate.
  • Oracle’s recent releases of Java 9 and Java EE 8 address current issues including cloud and the need for more regular updates.

Next week kicks off JavaOne in San Francisco, and it will foreshadow an especially interesting year to come, considering the increased expectations being placed on Java and its changing role in a cloud-centric development era.  Oracle’s long-anticipated releases of Java 9 and Java EE 8 this week begin to address some important issues, including the addition of features that help developers adjust to a modern app development era involving PaaS, containerization, and microservices.

Some key new features released just ahead of JavaOne include:

  • Java 9, aka SE 9 (SDK), featuring a new modular system, which adds the flexibility to pick and choose only what’s needed to run an app in the cloud;
  • Improved API search functions as part of Java 9, as well as Streams API enhancements; and
  • With Java EE 8, better support of app development for the cloud and use of a microservices architecture, enabled through eight key specifications of the software.

This month, Oracle also announced plans to turn Java EE over to the leading open source Eclipse Foundation, via a licensing deal, acknowledging the need for broader industry involvement by enterprise stakeholders, such as IBM and Red Hat. Oracle has agreed to drop Java EE’s traditional update processes, referred to as ‘Java Community Process’ (JCP), a three to four-year review and update cycle. Under the planned six-month abbreviated cycle, industry collaboration will help ensure a more regular review process, including improved innovation, tests, and updates of the software. More than ever, Java must be agile and open in response to new development architectures associated with deployment complexities. The industry as a whole needs to find ways to collaborate whenever possible to ease the evolving DevOps process and look to differentiate and compete on high-value services.

Not surprisingly, vendors have their own ideas on how Java should be managed in a digital development age. An open source project called MicroProfile, sponsored by IBM, Red Hat, and others, is a high-profile effort that has evolved during the past year. It seeks to ensure heterogeneous deployments of microservices apps. Enterprise developers primarily use Java EE with app servers such as WebSphere, WebLogic, JBoss EAP, or Tomcat, but the majority don’t have time to retool or decompose app platforms into smaller components as part of a microservices environment. The MicroProfile open community project seeks to decompose those Java app servers into microservices, an effort that could be a game-changer by standardizing app platforms and significantly shrinking a cumbersome process.

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