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JCP Reform Continues as London Java Community and CloudBees Win Seats on Executive Committee

by Charles Humble on Nov 01, 2012 |

The results are in for the JCP 2012 elections, with the London Java Community re-elected and PaaS provider CloudBees being elected for the first time in the open vote, on 33% and 20% of the vote respectively. ZeroTurnaround just missed the cut with 13%. For the ratified seats (those nominated by Oracle) Cinterion Wireless Modules GmbH, Credit Suisse, Fujitsu Limited and Hewlett-Packard were all elected. Overall turnout was 23.7%, a marginal increase on last year's 23%.

CloudBees will be represented by Steve Harris, formerly an SVP of Oracle and a long-term member of the JCP. His election leaves the JCP open to the accusation that the organization is still made up of the same old faces, though Harris disputed this when we spoke to him.

I expect the opposite is more of a concern for Oracle - that my familiarity with the skeletons in the JCP closet will help the Executive Committee as a body to be more aggressive in pushing community-driven concerns than Oracle might like. I know a lot of the people and organizations engaged in the Executive Committee from my time with Oracle, but I think I have a reputation for being a community advocate and for finding ways to get things done. Certainly with CloudBees' involvement in the Jenkins open source project and our middleware background, we have a nice combination of community and platform DNA that is different from a lot of the "old faces" represented by big vendors.

We went on to ask him what objectives he has for his involvement with the JCP.

The Executive Committee is the entity that controls how the JCP works -- processes, licensing, approvals, and so on. The technical work to create specifications is done in technical committees. PaaS is a good use case to help drive some of the changes needed within the JCP, since it's an example where innovation is being driven by the community, independent of the JCP, at a rapid pace. There are many other examples. How do you mesh that kind of work with the more formal processes of the JCP and issues like compatibility? My objective is to work within the Executive Committee to find ways to relax controls and lower barriers to involvement and contribution, so that the JCP serves more as a facilitator for driving the Java platform forward, rather than a gate. To meet this objective will require the JCP to embrace the way the Java developer community works -- through open source communities, social coding forums, independent creation of languages and frameworks by individuals and companies, and so on. Fortunately, I think there is broad agreement on the objective within the Executive Committee, but execution will involve pushing the envelope to vest more control in the community.

After this year's Executive Committee Elections, the SE/EE and ME Executive Committees are being merged into a single Executive Committee, as defined by JSR 355 and the JCP 2.9 Process Document. In the merged Executive Committee, Voting Members will serve 2-year terms as opposed to 3. By 2013, in addition to the permanent seat held by Oracle, there will be 16 Ratified Seats and 8 Elected Seats.

The merging of the two Executive Committees represents the delivery of the second of three planned reforms to the JCP. JSR 348 was the first, requiring that in the future all Expert Groups conduct all of their business in public, using a public mailing-list and a public issue-tracker. With these two complete, the big theme for the coming year is around the thorny area of intellectual property issues, and in particular the licensing terms that the spec leads use for the TCK, which are controlled by the The Java Specifcation Participation Agreement, generally referred to as the JSPA (PDF document). The JSPA governs IP issues and mandates fair access to the TCK.  It also contains the RAND language. IP issues were at the heart of the dispute between Sun Microsystems and the Apache Software Foundation, which ultimately resulted in Apache leaving the JCP.

Steve Harris has discussed this issue on his blog.

...there is some hard work ahead of the JCP Executive Committee. The hard work requires cutting through some of the remaining barriers that introduce friction between developers and the JCP -- things like moving toward standard, permissive licensing models for all JSRs and encouraging more open approaches for collaboration with open source communities. This work is hard because it intersects with vendor financial interests and intellectual property issues -- and Oracle is not the only vendor in this equation, even if it has the most investment and control within the current JCP environment. The work ahead for the JCP Executive Committee is not going to be fun, but it is important. It's important for CloudBees as a business, and it's important to the community overall and the continued success of Java over the long run.

Ben Evans, who is the London Java Community representative on the Executive Committee, echoed the point when InfoQ spoke to him.

The LJC is honoured to be re-elected to the JCP Executive Committee. We're looking forward to getting to grips with the challenges that await us over the coming year, particularly with regard to the new version of the JSPA and associated Intellectual Property issues. Through our Adopt-a-JSR and AdoptOpenJDK programmes and other initiatives, we will continue to represent developers' interests, involve & engage with the community at large and work towards an open Java ecosystem where both co-operation and healthy competition are thriving.

Oracle, and in particular Patrick Curran, deserve a great deal of credit for the progress that has been made with regards reforming the JCP thus far. However, the fuzzy RAND language in the current JSPA has long been a cause for concern. A resolution to this, and a clear message on TCK access and availability, is critical for the JCP to remain credible.

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Congratulations to the winners by Mark Little

There were a number of really good candidates on this vote, so congratulations to Steve and Ben for winning, but commiserations to the others. I hope they will all try again next time as this bodes well for the future of the JCP.

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