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Oracle Looking to Move Java EE to Open Source Foundation

| by Tim Hodkinson Follow 5 Followers on Aug 22, 2017. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

Oracle is planning to move leadership and ongoing development of the Java EE platform to an open source foundation. The move will follow the next release, JEE 8, which is due out this summer. The company says they will continue to support Weblogic Server, which is built on JEE standards.

In a blog post for the JEE Community, Oracle Java EE evangelist David Delabassee said that moving the platform to an open source foundation will be a way to change the governance process and bring benefits such as more agile processes and more flexible licensing. These are areas where development of Java EE has been seen as deficient when compared to other open source communities. The move will also include the test compatibility kit and reference implementations.

In the last few years, Oracle has been criticised over its stewardship of JEE. For example, there has been an online petition calling for Oracle to show more commitment to the platform. The group behind the petition, the Java EE Guardians, was formed in 2016 to protect and evangelize the platform when Oracle appeared to lose focus on it. Its list of members includes many luminaries of the Java community, including James Gosling (the "Father of Java").

Unsurprisingly, comments from the Java EE Guardians on Oracle’s announcement have been largely positive. One of the group founders, Reza Rahman, told InfoQ:  

I definitely think this is a very positive move…that we should all appreciate wholeheartedly. It is a foundational and promising change for the entire Java ecosystem and perhaps even for global IT. It represents a critical step towards further opening up Java.

He went on to stress that it was now the role of the community to work with vendors (especially Oracle) and be more vocal about what they see as the right path to fully opening up Java EE.

Ryan Cuprak, another of the Java EE Guardians, also welcomed the announcement, but  added a note of caution. He told InfoQ that a large concern was who is going to provide the vision and roadmap now that Oracle had stepped down, and what would be the effect on JCP and existing governance models.

IBM have also welcomed the move with Ian Robinson making a connection between this and the microprofile initiative:

IBM is proud to have been one of the platform specification collaborators and implementers since the very beginning and we are delighted that Java EE is moving with the times to an open foundation for its ongoing development following the completion of Java EE 8 this year.

Earlier this year I wrote about the creation of the Eclipse MicroProfile project to lead innovation around the modernization of enterprise Java for microservices in an open community. I’m particularly pleased, as a member of the MicroProfile community, to see this movement from Java EE in the same direction.

In a separate post, Oracle confirmed their commitment to continue supporting their JEE commercial server Weblogic, and continuing leveraging its use in the Oracle Cloud Java Cloud Service as well as other PaaS and SaaS offerings. As far as Java EE goes, the company says they intend to meet ongoing commitments to customers, developers, consumers, technology contributors, partners and licensees and will go on supporting existing Java EE implementations and future implementations of Java EE 8. Beyond that release, however, while continuing to participate in the evolution of the platform, they will no longer take the leadership role. Oracle’s plan is to enter into a dialogue with the community, licensees and several candidate foundations to determine the direction the platform will now take.

The main question will now be which of the open source foundations would make the best home for Java EE. An unofficial poll by Reza Rahman suggests the clear favourite with the community would be the Apache Software Foundation.

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