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Oracle Shares Their Strategy for Java EE with the JCP Executive Committee

| by Abraham Marín Pérez Follow 9 Followers on Sep 11, 2016. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

Anil Gaur, Oracle Group Vice President with responsibility for Java EE and WebLogic Server, was invited to speak at the last JCP Executive Committee meeting to shed some light on the future of Java EE. His message was in line with previous statements from Oracle: enterprise programming is changing, and Oracle wants to adapt to it. However, subsequent questions from the EC members highlighted gaps in the plan.

After Thomas Kurian, president of product development at Oracle, was interviewed on the topic of Java EE roughly six weeks ago, it was apparent that an initiative was emerging for Oracle to get back on top of Java EE. It is in this context that Gaur provided a verbal presentation on Oracle's Java EE strategy during the last JCP EC meeting on 9th August. In his presentation, Gaur indicated that Oracle understands how enterprise programming is changing, with more and more applications following a distributed architecture. As a consequence of this, Gaur highlighted that a number of technologies would desirably be added to Java EE 8 for it to effect a tangible benefit, providing a list that sounds very similar to that of Kurian's interview: HTTP/2, Config, State management, Eventual Consistency, Multi-tenancy, O-Auth and OpenID Connect. However, Steve Wallin, program director of runtime technologies at IBM, casted doubts during the turn of questions on such a revolutionary change being needed in the short term, affirming that IBM managed to achieve rapid cloud deployment based on the current Java EE platform (probably referring to Bluemix).

However, perhaps the most interesting piece of information lies in what wasn't said. After the verbal presentation, members of the Executive Committee asked questions to get a better understanding, among them when the new version would be available. Gaur admitted that the delivery date for Java EE 8 would be "changed" and gave no further details, although the hints that some of the new functionalities might be based on Java SE9 would point to a rather long delay.

There were also mentions of possible collaborations between Oracle, other vendors, and the community, again without much detail. IBM and RedHat confirmed they have held talks with Oracle; SouJava head Bruno Souza offered the help of the Java User Groups and the Adopt-a-JSR program, which Gaur said he "would welcome", and when long time JCP EC member Werner Keil noted that Java.net, where Java EE projects are hosted, is going to be decommissioned, Gaur simply said that they were looking for alternatives. InfoQ reached out to members Martijn Verburg from the London Java Community, Mark Little from RedHat, and to chair Patrick Curran, to check if there was any additional information beyond what had been recorded in the minutes, but all three reported that there wasn't.

When asked whether, after the meeting, they had the impression that Oracle was doing enough for Java EE, both Mark Little and Martijn Verburg responded no: "We obviously feel that the future of Java EE hasn’t necessarily been going in the right direction for a while", said Little."We’ve invited Oracle to participate in the MicroProfile effort a few times, and I did in the JCP EC meeting, but so far they haven't accepted". Despite this, Verburg pointed out that this shouldn't reflect too badly on Oracle:

Oracle had every right to go and do this. They're a commercial company who own Java and have put an enormous amount of effort into it over the years, which we all have benefited from. They are free to determine what resourcing to give! What was disappointing was the nine months of radio silence during that time. It was not an ideal message to the ecosystem as a whole and created a lot of uncertainty; as stewards of Java I think it was a misstep.

A common trait between Gaur's and Kurian's messages is the referral to JavaOne for further details. This could probably mean that, after focusing on other internal projects, Oracle is determined to retake Java EE with a bang. With JavaOne only a week away, we won't have to wait long to find out.

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Intriguing by Cameron Purdy

Anil Gaur (who manages the team that used to do Java EE at Oracle, and hopefully once again is doing Java EE) has been a champion of Java EE within Oracle for all of the years since the Sun acquisition, which he was part of. Anil has been consistently and persistently looking for ways to find funding for Java EE work in order to deliver on the goals of Java EE 8. I know this personally: Anil worked for me when I was at Oracle.

That Thomas Kurian is talking about revitalizing Java EE is a very positive sign as well. It is well known that Thomas personally specifies how headcount are assigned to each project within his entire org, and as a result, an intelligent person might be able to infer that he was the cause of this crisis in the first place.

In related news, it is rumored that Oracle is attempting to dramatically increase the fees that other Java EE licensees pay for Java EE in order to fund this new work that was supposed to already be done by now. It is unclear what the existing Java EE fees were being used for, but it would appear to the untrained eye that the fees did not actually go to any Java EE work, since (as documented by independent third parties) no Java EE work was actually being done.

Intriguing, in every sense of the word.

Peace,

Cameron.

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