Spring Framework founder: Java needs cloud accommodations

Rod Johnson says Java must seize the lead in cloud computing or risk being overtaken by languages like Ruby

To maintain its prominence, Java must evolve to meet the needs of cloud computing, the author of the popular Spring Framework for Java said on Tuesday.

Java needs continued productivity increases and must accommodate nonrelational data stores like Hadoop to thrive in the cloud, said Spring founder Rod Johnson, senior vice president at VMware, at the Jax Java conference in San Jose, Calif. But these issues are in the process of being addressed, he said.

[ During his presentation, Johnson predicted that PaaS (platform-as-a-service) cloud computing will become prominent for deploying custom applications. | Keep up with the latest developer news with InfoWorld's Developer World newsletter. | Follow Paul Krill on Twitter.]

"A lot of this is coming from the open source community," Johnson said. He cited the Spring Data project for data access as an example of a project that would improve Java for the cloud. "If Java does not really seize the lead in cloud computing in the next year, I think it has a much greater chance of being eclipsed by languages like Ruby."

Johnson, as he has done in recent years, emphasized his cloud-is-inevitable mantra. He stressed that fewer than 30 percent of IT expenditures go toward developing new functionality; most of the expense is for managing legacy systems. Cloud computing provides a solution to this problem, he explain. "This is the fundamental reason that cloud computing is important." Unlike SOA, cloud computing is not a buzzword driven by vendor hype, said Johnson. "This one, I think, is different. Enterprise middleware, as we know it, will cease to exist."

Current methods in which IT deploys application servers, messaging brokers, and other software will give way to organizations either working with public clouds or their own private PaaS rather than dealing with low-level infrastructure components, which is complex, Johnson said. He also noted that Java is a good fit for PaaS, offering a programming model such as Java EE (Java Platform, Enterprise Edition) or Spring.

Meanwhile, Oracle is readying the planned July 28 release of Java SE (Java Platform, Standard Edition) 7 and the accompanying JDK (Java Development Kit) 7, an Oracle official noted at the conference. Java SE 7 will feature capabilities from the former Sun Microsystems Da Vinci Machine project, boosting the ability of different languages to run on the Java Virtual Machine, said Aurelio Garcia-Ribeyro, principal product manager in the Java platform group at Oracle. Java SE 7 also will incorporate an enhanced JMX (Java Management Extensions) agent from Oracle's JRockit Java Virtual Machine. Oracle has been merging the HotSpot JVM from Sun Microsystems with JRockit.

Multicore processor accommodations will be featured in Java SE 7, along with security improvements like elliptic curve cryptography and address space layout randomization. Other improvements include better font configuration for Unix and support for Unicode 6.0, for internationalization. In late 2012, Oracle plans to release JDK 8, which is to feature modularization and fully incorporates JRockit, adding JVM such features as JIT (Just In Time) compiler optimizations and serviceability capabilities. "All the features will be in a single JVM," Garcia-Ribeyro said.

A conference attendee emphasized his preference for the Java SE 7 platform over the actual Java language itself. "I think what they offer [with the Java language] is good, but it's mostly cosmetic. You have things like Scala that will offer you much better return," said Tommy Chheng, lead engineer at Qwiki, which offers machine-generated information visualization.

Also at the event, officials at Red Hat said in an interview that JBoss Application Server 7, which is an open source community project, is due next month, featuring accommodations for multi-core processors, fast startup and a modular design. "We're getting a tenfold increase in startup time performance," said Daniel Allen, Red Hat principal software engineer. A remote Web administration console is featured also. Intended for developers and the community at large, version 7 serves as a precursor to JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 6, which is geared for enterprise usage and is due early next year.

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