Pivotal, WSO2 seize on Oracle's Java EE delays

Oracle will announce a new Java EE road map at JavaOne, but until then, third parties are trying to fill the gaps

Pivotal, WSO2 seize on Oracle's Java EE delays
Credit: Tom Woodward

As Thomas Kurian told InfoWorld in July, Oracle has been busy drawing up a new road map for Java EE (Enterprise Edition) that will "modernize" the language for the cloud era. The JavaOne conference in September, supposedly, will reveal all.

Meanwhile, Pivotal and WSO2 already see themselves meeting the needs of modern enterprise Java by enabling Java microservices and cloud deployments. But how much of a role can third-party Java products actually play?

Pivotal, which now has jurisdiction over Spring Framework technologies for Java development, has already positioned its Spring Cloud libraries as a mechanism for microservices in Java, with such capabilities as service discovery, configuration management, and intelligent routing.

With Spring Cloud, JVM applications connect to services and discover information about the cloud environment. Spring Cloud builds on Spring Boot, which is for building stand-alone Spring applications.

WSO2, meanwhile, has its Microservices Framework for Java, for building microservices for container-based deployment, including booting up in a Docker container. The framework features a Spring-native programming model.

But can enterprise Java shops move ahead with cloud and microservices deployments without waiting for a retooling of Java EE? A leader of Java EE Guardians, which has been vocal in its concerns about Oracle's EE stewardship, has his doubts. "The reality is that most server-side Java frameworks have been and still are heavily reliant on Java EE and its APIs," said Java Guardians leader Reza Rahman, who was once a Java EE evangelist at Oracle. "This includes both Spring and WSO2 Microservices for Java."

Java EE, he said, remains very important regardless of whatever else is happening in the industry. "Java EE is the only multivendor open standard for server-side Java. The rest of the frameworks are not open standards and are essentially vendor-bound solutions."

At MicroProfile.io, which is developing a microservices profile for enterprise Java, spokesman Rich Sharples of Red Hat acknowledged there were other enterprise Java choices available, such as Spring Boot. But people like the idea of a standard platform with multiple vendor implementations, he said. "We'll have a very complex world if there are seven different ways to do microservices for the JVM," said Sharples. "There needs to be some common ground and that's really all the first phase of MicroProfile is trying to do -- take existing well-adopted, standard Java technologies as a baseline for building Java microservices." MicroProfile is a multi-organizational effort, with both Red Hat and IBM involved.

Pivotal's Josh Long, Spring developer advocate, sees Spring working together with Java EE, saying that "the issues that are [affecting] Java EE right now are political." But Spring, with its open source development paradigm, steers clear of a lot of political considerations, he argued. "The technology that we provide is more modern," than Java EE by definition, with EE providing just a lowest-common-denominator standard. Participants in Java EE's ongoing development agree on the EE standard sometimes years after the need for a particular solution has been established. Spring, meanwhile, is developed by a community that "is trying to solve problems right now."

Oracle has tried to persuade Spring users to move over to Java EE, arguing that Spring is no longer needed since the EE platform had added Spring capabilities like dependency injection. But Spring technologies continue to be popular, with Spring Boot, for example, downloaded 4.2 million times in June alone. There also are lots of employment opportunities available in the Spring vein, Pivotal argues. A quick search on the Dice.com IT jobs site did indeed turn up 13,533 Spring-related jobs recently.

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