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The Java EE Guardians Rebrand as the Jakarta EE Ambassadors

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Under the auspices of the Eclipse Foundation, the rebranding of the Java EE Guardians to the Jakarta EE Ambassadors has been completed. The Java EE Guardians initiative, launched in 2016, was created in response to Oracle and their stagnation with Java EE 8. They were a driving force that ultimately led to Oracle completing the release of Java EE 8 followed by open-sourcing Java EE and transferring ownership to the Eclipse Foundation. Around that same time in 2016, the MicroProfile initiative, a collaboration of IBM, Red Hat, Tomitribe and Payara, was launched to bring microservices to enterprise Java.

Serving as an "independent grassroots group of people committed to moving the Java EE platform forward through active community participation and advocacy," their mission was to ensure the Java EE platform would still be a viable choice for enterprise applications development.

When the Eclipse Foundation introduced Jakarta EE as the new home for cloud native Java, the Java EE Guardians realized that their mission as guardians of enterprise Java was no longer necessary, and a new mission be defined for the all-volunteer group. Now serving as ambassadors for Jakarta EE, the group is "sailing forward with cloud-native Java."

Mike Milinkovich, executive director at the Eclipse Foundation, told InfoQ:

Both the Eclipse Foundation and the Jakarta EE Working Group are very happy with the re-branding recently undertaken by the Java EE Guardians. The new Jakarta EE Ambassadors are an important part of our community, and we very much appreciate their support and trust. The opportunity before us in 2020 is to work with the Java community to rapidly move this technology platform forward. We're excited about this, and really look forward to working with the Ambassadors to make our vision of a cloud native future for Java a reality.

Tanja Obradovic, Jakarta EE program manager at the Eclipse Foundation, told InfoQ:

With Oracle's contribution of Java EE to open source and the subsequent rebranding to Jakarta EE, we at the Eclipse Foundation and the whole community are thrilled that the Java EE Guardians have followed suite and done their own rebranding to the Jakarta EE Ambassadors. On a personal level, I want to thank the Jakarta EE Ambassadors for their contributions to the advancement of Jakarta EE. I look forward to collaborating with them to drive the success and growth of the Jakarta EE community.

Ivar Grimstad, Java Champion and Jakarta EE developer advocate at the Eclipse Foundation, told InfoQ:

I wasn't very much involved in the rebranding other than supporting the choice of name and was able to help out with getting the logotype created. It was the graphics team at Eclipse Foundation that did the work with the logo, I just made the suggestion. I guess nobody else actually thought of this way of using the Jakarta EE brand.

Reza Rahman, principal program manager for Java on Azure at Microsoft and one of the founders of the Java EE Guardians, spoke to InfoQ about this rebranding.

InfoQ: What kind of influence will the Jakarta EE Ambassadors have on the Java community and the on-going development of Jakarta EE?

Reza Rahman: This might sound like a strange thing to say, but I hope very little. The reason I say this is that I believe there is an implicit ethos in the core Jakarta EE Ambassadors that we should step in where there truly is a serious gap and stay mostly out of the way and behind the scenes otherwise. That's why the Guardians name that we are leaving behind was actually a very good fit for what we are at the core. That said, it is clear that we really will need to be Ambassadors of the technology for the foreseeable future. That means we need to educate and engage as many folks as we can as to why Jakarta EE really matters, what's in it for them and how they can contribute. It is also clear we need to continue to work to make sure the best interests of ordinary, rank-and-file developers are well represented in the technology.

InfoQ: Looking back to when you started the Java EE Guardians in 2016, what were your goals? Did you achieve those goals? Were there any goals that weren't met?

Rahman: It has been a very interesting and unexpected journey so far. The need for something like the Jakarta EE Ambassadors was clear to me when I was evangelizing Java EE at Oracle as part of the GlassFish team. I had my doubts if it could be done given there was already the Java Champions program at the time and I basically knew what Sun/Oracle saw the Java Champions really as.

The need for forming the Java EE Guardians of course became rather painfully apparent with what was going on with Java EE 8. The initial goal for us was rather modest - for Oracle to either understand the true value of Java EE and recommit to it or be very clear that Java EE was not to be continued as an open standard. Privately we hoped Java EE would be moved to open governance outside the JCP and the other Java EE vendors would contribute back far more than they historically have. We did not make that a stated goal since we did not think it was realistic and feared it would needlessly aggravate matters.

I think it has been a mixed bag overall so far. We certainly helped make Java EE 8 happen. I think it is an important and very feature complete release, especially for monolithic applications that will serve the industry well for a long time. It was a very nice surprise to see Jakarta EE 8 happen. It really has quite a bit of promise. I hope this brings us to the point where the Jakarta EE Ambassadors can focus on what I had very originally wanted it to be - a truly independent grassroots community that advocates the technology, facilitates contribution and ensures community voices are represented.

What I worry about is whether what we have gotten is truly a unifying, healthy open standard that serves the industry well for a long time. I don't think needless fragmentation, hyper competition, mutual mistrust and proprietary islands will ensure the longevity of Java. We can continue to hope for the best.

InfoQ: Is there anything you would have done differently if you had to do it all over again?

Rahman: I had really hoped that the group would always enjoy open and broad support from all vendors. After all, at the end of the day we had always tried to be on the side of their customers. That should be a natural alignment point for any business really. That said, knowing how business relationships and thinking operate in practicality sometimes, I knew all along not to expect too much. It has been a very pleasant surprise to receive the level of support we have from the Eclipse Foundation. We are certainly grateful to the Jakarta EE Working Group for helping us with the rebranding.

There has been proactive and public outreach to us both from the Eclipse Foundation and some of the major vendors more openly in the past year. Hopefully all of that can be moved forward as an entirely natural and symbiotic relationship. It really all comes down to that much needed alignment with end user best interests and building a good faith common foundation that can stand the test of time.

InfoQ: What are your thoughts on how enterprise Java and the Java EE Guardians have evolved these past three-and-a-half years?

Rahman: So far, what is happening at the Eclipse Foundation is a really solid start for something truly open and vitally important. It was very relieving to see Jakarta EE 8 actually happen. It took some time but this was an enormous IP transfer with broad reaching consequences and complexities. It is also important to set up infrastructure that doesn't merely mimic the JCP but improves upon it to help broaden contribution in a sustainable way - both from vendors and the community.

The thing to see now is beginning to build on all that through reliable, trustworthy, multilateral delivery. In our group we have kept a close eye on things, have contributed where we can, asked ourselves hard questions and evolved to fill the gaps we continue to see.

InfoQ: What's on the horizon for the Jakarta EE Ambassadors?

Rahman: In the immediate horizon, we will try our best to shore up contribution to Jakarta EE 9 and Jakarta EE 10. We hope both can be done by this year. In the intermediate term, I think a thorny issue to help sort out is alignment between MicroProfile and Jakarta EE. This, of course, in addition to doing what we can to advocate the platform certainly including Jakarta EE 8 and the Eclipse Foundation setup as well as in general keeping an eye on things.

InfoQ: How can developers in the Java community become a Jakarta EE Ambassador?

Rahman: This might be hard for some to believe, but we really are a completely open and egalitarian grassroots group. Anyone who wishes to help in any way should consider themselves a Jakarta EE Ambassador. That can be as simple as advocating or using the technology at work. Anyone is always welcome to register and help out in any way that they can. If anyone is so inclined, they could help us with the day-to-day (or is night-to-night more appropriate?) care, running and organization of the group itself. I believe this is the kind of entity we need to be in order to ensure the long term health and well being of the Java ecosystem.

Membership in the Jakarta EE Ambassadors includes over 250 individuals, 50 Java user groups and 27 companies.

Resources

Editor's Note

Michael Redlich and the ACGNJ Java Users Group that he co-facilitates have been members of the Java EE Guardians/Jakarta EE Ambassadors since March 2018.

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