Java EE advocates to Oracle: Give us details, not promises

Oracle says Java EE 8 will be equipped for cloud deployments, microservices, containers, and multitenancy, but Java advocates want to see the fine print

Java EE advocates to Oracle: Give us details, not promises
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Oracle's recently revealed plan to reboot enterprise Java for the cloud is leaving the community at large skeptical, with Java proponents glad to see the company ready to again move forward but longing for more details.

Last month, a group led by James Gosling formed the Java EE Guardians to protest what they perceived as Oracle's lack of efforts to move forward with Java EE 8. In response, Oracle last week emphasized intentions to better equip the platform for cloud deployments, microservices, containers, and multitenancy.

But Reza Rahman, a former Java EE evangelist and now a leader of Java Guardians, said he wants to see more details from Oracle.

"We have so far seen nothing other than those few paragraphs anywhere else and certainly no work to substantiate any of these statements," he said. "It's likely we need to wait until JavaOne to understand what any of this actually means in terms of feature and timeline."

Oracle's Thomas Kurian, president of product development, has indeed pledged that more details would be revealed at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco, which begins on Sept. 18.

For the time being, Java Guardians sees the situation as status quo. "If after all this we see no real activity or details after JavaOne, it will be very worrisome indeed," Rahman said. An online petition has been posted by Java EE Guardians urging Oracle to move forward with EE or turn the work over to others. As of Tuesday, the petition had more than 3,200 signatures. Java EE Guardians has pondered developing enterprise-level Java improvements on its own.

Another group also formed out of concern for enterprise Java, MicroProfile.io, already expects to release its own enterprise profile for microservices in Java. An insider with MicroProfile.io, who preferred anonymity, said the organization was OK with the technical direction laid out by Oracle.

The source also said it was time for a new process to update Java instead of using the existing Java Community Process. "The next beachhead is the licensing terms and venue for collaboration -- the JCP doesn't really cut it any more," according to the MicroProfile.io insider. "It's also a slow, heavy process that still depends on Oracle commitment. That's not a healthy sign for a project -- over-reliance on a single vendor."

Rahman doubts he will see much positive reaction about Oracle's plan so far from Java EE Guardians participants, who have become wary of Oracle. "What helps are specific technical details, open collaboration, realistic timelines, and visible work."

At the JCP itself, member Werner Keil, who has been critical of Oracle, said it was too early to judge Oracle's plan, but it seems like the right direction. "The general idea to support cloud and multitenancy makes sense," Werner said. "Even companies that may never fully embrace the public cloud should benefit by using a service-based approach rather than large, monolithic systems." He expressed concern, however, about how much proprietary technology might creep into the revamped Java EE from either Oracle or other vendors.

The Eclipse Foundation, which has specialized in development of open source tooling, was glad to finally see some movement on EE from Oracle. "We thought that it was unfortunate that a long period of silence had caused so much concern in the community and ecosystem," Eclipse Executive Director Mike Milinkovich said. "The entire controversy was almost certainly avoidable. That said, Oracle is a very large company, and strategic decisions can take time. We are very happy to see that Oracle is moving in the right direction and will have something positive to announce at JavaOne."

Moving into the cloud and container world is "a very positive move" for Oracle, with EE originally designed for on-premise IT infrastructure, Milinkovich said. "However, the devil will be in the details. A new Java EE specification for the cloud will need to meet the needs of many competing cloud vendors, not just Oracle's."

Java EE developer and blogger Peter Pilgrim, who has described EE as being in a state of "crisis," was disappointed with Oracle's response. "It's not much of a plan," he said, "because the community is still left with guesswork as to the future of Java EE 8 in general." Still, he described Oracle's intentions to invest in cloud enhancements as important, even while questioning Oracle's emphasis on multitenancy and the "hype" around microservices.

The Java EE brand needs rebuilding, and the language needs tooling for interactive, fast-paced development, Pilgrim said. "JavaScript/ Node.js has [been] sniping at Java's legs for quite a while, and people who work with Ruby, PHP, and other dynamic languages have long laughed at 250,000 lines of Java to build a digital site."

Keil said he sees a delay in the release of Java EE 8, which was due in the first half of next year, as "inevitable." In revealing Oracle's plan, Kurian was noncommittal about whether the deadline would be met. Pilgrim said he does not want to see version 8 delayed. "It is absolutely depressing, because these are technologies that can help the enterprise platform moved forward. And yet, I have bad feeling about the brand 'Java EE' now. We still are not overcoming J2EE, which has been dead since 2005. It casts a very long tail shadow over Java enterprise."

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