JCP Ready for the Hard Stuff: Revising the JSPA

During the first Oracle-sponsored JavaOne conference in 2010, representatives from the Java Community Process (JCP), the group that certifies Java specifications, told attendees that changes were coming to the organization. That first year, JCP chair Patrick Curran said, would be about transparency, participation, agility and governance, all addressed in Java Specification Request (JSR) 348 ("Towards a new version of the Java Community Process"). A year later, Curran and company announced plans to merge the two JCP Executive Committees (ECs) -- the SE/EE EC and the ME EC -- under JSR 355 ("JCP Executive Committee Merge"). That plan was approved in September.

That's a lot to accomplish in just under three years, but during a Java Community Panel at this year's JavaOne event, Curran described (again) the issues addressed by those two JSRs as "low-hanging fruit." Now, Curran said, they're ready for the hard stuff -- namely, revising the Java Specification Participation Agreement (JSPA). JSR 358 ("A major revision of the Java Community Process"), which was announced in June, also seeks to modify the Process Document and the EC Standing Rules.

The JSPA sets forth the basic legal structure that allows companies and individuals to participate in the development and distribution of specifications, reference implementations, and technology compatibility kits (TCKs) within the JCP. The current version was created in 2002 through JSR 99. A lot changed in the decade that followed, and sponsors of JSR 358 argue that it's high time for the JCP "to revise this document to ensure that it meets our current needs."

But why does revising this document promise to be such a challenge?

"The JSPA was patched together from what we had at the very beginning," Curran explained, "and now it's this weird mishmash of old-style, Sun-centric [rules and procedures] and the modern way where everybody is collaborating. It's confusing legal spaghetti, and it needs to be revised to ensure that everyone understands the intellectual property flow, that the rights of people who contribute are protected, and that when people go out to implement they have confidence that they have the legal right to do so."

Among the issues being considered in this revision are: independent implementations, licensing and open source, transparency, compatibility policy and TCKs, the role of individual members, patent policy, intellectual property flow, and refactoring and cleanup.

This new JSR is part of what Curran called "a multi-year effort to reform and modify the governance and processes of the organization." What is striking about this ambitious enterprise is that it's being undertaken entirely through the existing procedures -- JSRs are filed to modify the group's governing documents, and the process changes the process.

Curran made no promises about when this JSR might be completed and approved. "This is a much more complex JSR that we've just started, and next year we'll probably still be talking about it," he said.

Posted by John K. Waters on 10/05/2012 at 10:53 AM0 comments

JavaOne 2012 Opening Night: Enterprise Java on Rise, Slew of New Releases, More

The annual JavaOne conference started early this year, staging its strategy, partner, and technical keynotes together on Sunday evening at the Mason Auditorium on San Francisco's Nob Hill. (The conference proper is being held at the nearby Hilton Hotel in Union Square through Thursday). The speakers offered a crowded auditorium updates and announcements on a range of Java technologies, from JavaFX to new Java ME-based offerings for embedded systems.

Hassan Risvi, SVP of Oracle's Fusion Middleware group, kicked off the show and introduced the conference theme: "Make the Future Java." He shared the annual Java Scorecard for 2012, which, among other things, indicated that adoption of the NetBeans IDE has been growing over the past three years. Risvi also underscored a new focus at this year's show on embedded Java. saying that he expects Java ME to become the lingua franca of the embedded world

Georges Saab, Oracle's vice president of development and chair of the OpenJDK, told attendees that there has been "a big uptake" of Java SE 7 in the enterprise. He added that JDK 7 had made Java available on more new platforms in the past year than in the previous 10. He also announced that Project Nashorn is being contributed to the OpenJDK. Nashorn is a JavaScript implementation designed to take advantage of InvokeDynamic for high performance with high interoperability with Java and the JVM. IBM, RedHat, and Twitter are planning to support Nashorn in OpenJDK, he said. Saab also called on the community to participate in the development of JDK 8 as "test pilots."

Dierk Konig of Canoo Engineering, a provider of Java-based business applications, (RIAs, linguistic morphology, and word analysis systems), joined Saab onstage to announce that his company is open sourcing its Dolphin remoting solution. Dolphin "bridges the world of enterprise and desktop Java," the company says on its website. The "Open-Dolphin" project is being licensed with an Apache 2 license, and hosted on GitHub.

AMD corporate fellow Phil Rogers took the stage to, among other things, announce Project Sumatra, a joint effort by his company and Oracle to build native support for Java in programs using Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to improve performance. The project is a reaction, he said, to the evolution from multi-core CPUs to CPU+GPU combinations that use "a single piece of silicon and shared memory."

Nandini Ramani, Oracle vice president of engineering, Java client, and mobile platforms, updated attendees on JavaFX, which is now available on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. It's also fully integrated into Oracle's Java SE 7 implementation, she said. Ramani also announced that Oracle is releasing a JavaFX developer preview for the Linux ARM distro, which is available for immediate download. The preview, she emphasized, is intended for use with ARM-based devices together with Oracle's Java SE port for ARM. Oracle is also offering a developer preview of JavaFX Scene Builder 1.1, also available now.

Ramani was joined onstage by a representative from the Royal Canadian Mint to demonstrate an implementation of Java Card, a Java platform for smart cards and tiny devices. She characterized Java Card as the "most widely deployed and least known" Java technology. The Canadian Mint is using Java Card as the basis for its new MintChip digital currency.

Ramani also talked about two new releases that mark a major move into the mobile-and-embedded systems space: Java ME Embedded 3.2, a client runtime optimized for microcontrollers, and Java Embedded Suite 7.0, collection of services for developing apps for embedded systems in a range of devices, from home gateways and routers to healthcare devices. The two releases acknowledge that "the Internet of things" is the next IT revolution, she said.

Oracle vice president of development, Cameron Purdy, took on the Java EE portion of the strategy keynote. The evolution of enterprise Java will continue to be in the direction of modularity, he said, with the next planned release of Java EE 7 targeted for Q2 2013. The earliest release of the Java EE 7 SDK is now available via the GlassFish versions, he said. Version 4 of the open source GlassFish application server includes significant HTML 5 enhancements, he added, many of which were announced at JavaOne 2011.

Purdy made the case for Java EE's continuing popularity, citing increased developer adoption numbers (more than 50 million downloads of Java EE components) and the fact that 14 Java EE 6-compliant app server implementations are currently available from other vendors.

Purdy also noted that there are currently four new Java Specification Requests (JSRs) and ten updated JSRs in the works for Java EE 7. Among the planned enhancements Purdy discussed were new features designed to ease the building of scalable HTML5 apps, including support for non-blocking (event-driven) I/O Servlet 3.1 API, JCache, JSON-P, WebSockets, JAX-RS 2.0 Client API, JPA schema generation, and a better security configuration aimed at the cloud.

Also look for updates to the 2.0 version of Java Message Service (JMS), which Purdy said will provide improved usability through annotation and CDI support and the JMS provider API for implementation portability.

Purdy was joined onstage by Nike's Nicole Otto, who showed a video promoting her company's Java EE-based FuelBand activity tracking device. The device is worn on the wrist and tracks sports activities and everyday actions, and then sync that data to a "motivational web and mobile experience."

The Java EE portion of the keynote also included a presentation by oceanography Robert Ballard, best known for his discovery of the wreckage of the Titanic. Ballard talked about using Java EE in his research technology, and made a compelling pitch to encourage young people to get into science and engineering in an "era of personality" by "selling the scientist, not the science."

The partners keynote was presented by IBM distinguished engineer and chief architect Jason McGee and IBM's Java CTO John Duimovich. McGee focused on "cloud challenges," and talked about the need to use patterns to describe cloud-based systems and "help us to deal with the diversity that has emerged in the application space." IBM's Liberty Profile, for example, is a lightweight WebSphere Application Server runtime for the cloud available on developerWorks. He emphasized the value of exploiting the evolution of hardware via "expert integrated systems of hardware and Java."

Duimovich talked about hardware during his presentation, including IBM's System z, and took up the pitch for the advantages of running Java on that system. He also took a moment to describe the relationship between Big Blue and Oracle: The two companies work together on Java, he said, "but compete head-to-head.

Mark Reinhold, the chief architect of Oracle's Java Platform group, led the technical keynote. This year's presentation was built around a single example application: a schedule builder populated with presentation and speaker data from this year's JavaOne conference. JavaFX team members Richard Bair, chief architect in Oracle's Client Java Platform group, and Jasper Potts, developer experience architect in Oracle's Client Java group, demoed the example app.

At one point, Brian Goetz, a Java language architect at Oracle, joined them onstage to explain the OpenJDK Project Lambda (JSR 335), which aims to support programming in multicore environments by adding closures (aka Lambda Expressions) and related features to the Java language. The project will help developers by giving them "better parallel libraries," he said.

During his presentation, Reinhold addressed Oracle's decision (first suggested by him in a blog post) to push Project Jigsaw back from Java 8 to Java 9, which is due in 2015. He used a "spaghetti" diagram to illustrate the complexities of implementing a standard module system for the Java SE Platform.

Oracle's Java EE technology evangelist Arun Gupta wrapped up the technical keynote, during which he introduced Project Easel, which enables NetBeans developers to create and manage client-side HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript applications. NetBeans 7.3 is expected later this week; the new version will include support for HTML5 as a new project type. He also discussed Project Avatar, development strategy that aims to help developers create hybrid applications for mobile devices with Java and HTML5. The project was unveiled at last year's JavaOne. 

JavaOne 2012 runs through Thursday.

Posted by John K. Waters on 10/01/2012 at 10:53 AM0 comments

JavaOne Preview: Even Bigger in 2012

The annual JavaOne conference gets underway next week in San Francisco with a new keynote venue, seven technical tracks comprising more than 500 sessions and speakers, and a new conference-within-the-conference focused on embedded Java. The nearly week-long event (Sept. 30 - Oct. 4) is being held (mostly) at the Hilton Hotel in Union Square.

One big change at this year's conference: the strategy, partner and technical keynotes are scheduled for Sunday evening (9/30), starting at 4 p.m. And they're being presented at the Mason Auditorium on Nob Hill. Last year they were delivered on Monday morning at the Hilton Ballroom. This is a bigger venue, an Oracle spokesperson told ADTmag, which was needed "to accommodate the ever-growing number of attendees," and the earlier presentations leave more room in the week for technical sessions.

The strategy keynote lineup includes Nandini Ramani, vice president of engineering in the Java Client and Mobile Platforms group, and Henrik Stahl, senior director of Oracle's product management group, among other "Oracle Java engineering luminaries." The partner keynote will be delivered by two IBM distinguished engineers: Jason McGee, Chief Architect for the PureApplication System, and John Duimovich, Java CTO. And Mark Reinhold, the chief architect of Oracle's Java Platform group, will be among the speakers during the technical keynote.

The Community keynote wraps up the conference on Thursday, as in years past; it's scheduled for at 9 a.m. at the Hilton. Attendees will hear from Sharat Chander, group director or Oracle's Java Technology Outreach group, Donald Smith, director of the company's Java product management group, and "several Java community luminaries."

A complete speakers list is available on the conference Web site

Another big change this year: Oracle has organized a special event focused on Java for embedded systems. Dubbed "Java Embedded @ JavaOne," it's a "business-focused program" that C-level executives can attend "while their IT/development staff can attend the technically-focused JavaOne conference." Oracle also unveiled two new embedded Java products this week -- the Java ME Embedded client runtime and the Java Embedded Suite of development services -- which the company plans to showcase at the Java Embedded event.

Java Embedded @ JavaOne runs from October 3-4 at the Nikko Hotel.

Since the first JavaOne conference was held in 1996, this highly-developer-focused trade show has become an annual must-attend event for Java coders around the world, an essential product showcase for vendors, and a touchstone for the larger Java community. This year's conference is the third organized by Oracle to run at the same time as that company's annual OpenWorld conference. The company's decision to hold the two enormously popular events simultaneously drew howls of protest back in 2010. This year: not so much. 

"I was pretty critical of JavaOne in 2010," said Ian Skerrett, director of marketing for the Eclipse Foundation. "The primary problem being the Hilton Hotel. However, last year they did a great job with the content and feel of the conference. I think they listened to the feedback and made a lot of improvements. From what I have heard...this year they are doing even more improvements, so I see JavaOne as, once again, a great developer conference."

"I would tend to agree that from a logistics perspective having JavaOne on its own is much more pleasant and productive," said IDC analyst Al Hilwa. "But given the unspoken competition for the largest vendor conference, I would not hold my breath on breaking JavaOne from [Oracle OpenWorld]. Of course there are advantages to having a larger conference in terms of reach with the Expo to a larger ecosystem and also for attendees who want to attend sessions from both events."

Although the two conferences are being held in separate venues (OpenWorld will take place at the Moscone Center a few blocks away), Oracle doesn't officially break out attendee numbers for JavaOne. Conference organizers expect more than 50,000 attendees at the two events.

Posted by John K. Waters on 09/26/2012 at 10:53 AM0 comments

Annual Dreamforce Event Draws Record Numbers

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff kicked off his company's annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco this week with eardrum-testing music, high-end customer videos, onstage executive cameos, and a keynote in "social revolution" overdrive. "Business is social!" Benioff declared from a stage set in the center of the packed Moscone auditorium. "It's the fastest growing segment of our industry, with 150 million customer conversations a day!"

"This social revolution is unlike anything we've ever experienced," Benioff said. "Every aspect of our world is changing. That is why this is the most exciting thing that is happening in our industry." He added, "The social revolution is a trust revolution, and the new social front office is where the trust revolution lives."

Amid the full-court-press sales pitch were some significant product announcements. For developers, the big news at this event is probably Canvas, a set of tools and JavaScript APIs designed to allow them to expose their apps as Canvas apps.The plan is to make it possible to integrate third-party apps in Salesforce -- any app in any language -- and allow them to run inside the Salesforce user interface with unified identity, secure access to records, and collaboration via Chatter. Canvas is a pilot project; the company has said that it is planning for a winder 2013 release.

"The most exciting hardcore thing [Salesforce is] doing for developers are probably the Canvas, which provides a framework for integrating applications written in other programming language into," observed IDC analyst Al Hilwa.

One of the splashiest announcements was the official launch of Salesforce's Touch Platform. The company's new HTML5-based mobile application development framework is designed to "bring Salesforce to any mobile device, regardless of platform." The company already has mobile versions of its CRM software (Salesforce Mobile) and its social networking app (Chatter Mobile). But Touch is optimized for the market-leading tablets and phones, including Amazon's Kindle, Apple's iPhone and iPad, and a range of Android devices

Benioff brought Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts back to the Dreamforce stage (she appeared last year) to talk about the impact of mobile on her company. Pointing to her smartphone, she said, "These things truly are changing the world." She also talked about working closely with Salesforce to build the new Burberry World Live website. The project will "test the boundaries" of the customer experience, she said.

The Touch Platform was pushed on Wednesday to the Salesforce App Exchange, Benioff said.

IDC's Hilwa agrees that the mobile news is big, but he argues that the company's overall moves to strengthen its platform are more significant.

"Having mobile access to the Salesforce application from a variety of devices is a great new development and much needed," Hilwa told ADTmag, "but the platform and social investments are even more critical to Salesforce in the long run. Salesforce rightly understands that building a strong and durable application business is inseparable from building an application and developer ecosystem."

Hilwa is referring to the company's announcements of a new a "social marketing" suite (Marketing Cloud), a social-oriented human resource management system (, a new identity management system (Salesforce Identity), and a new file sharing app (Chatterbox).

Salesforce EVP Brett Queener took the stage to introduce the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. The new product suite uses the Radian6 social monitoring tool and the Buddy Media social marketing tool to bring marketing into the social revolution, he said. The Marketing Cloud combines several capabilities, including the ability to: track what people on the social web are saying about a company, generate social media content for the company, engage and interact with customers, launch and manage social campaigns, rout relevant content to the right people in an organization, and track ROI.

Benioff brought Men's Warehouse CEO and TV pitchman George Zimmer to the stage to talk about how his company is using the Marketing Cloud to target millennials, and Commonwealth Bank CMO Andy Lark, who said that "marketing has been the most underserved by tech."

The company is billing its new as a kind of social human resources management system. It's designed to provide a "social performance management platform that revolutionizes the way companies align around social goals, motivate their people with real-time recognition and rewards, and drives performance with continuous feedback and relevant performance reviews." As Salesforce EVP John Wookey put it, "HR software is about administration, not about driving success."

Tim Campos, CIO of Facebook, took the stage at the conference to explain the service. Campos has been credited with co-developing the system. "With traditional ERP and Human Resources Management systems, you have the concepts of the cost center and the org chart," he said. "These are important ways of organizing information, but what is a lot more important in managing employees is recognizing who they work with and allowing them to provide feedback to each other."

Salesforce cofounder Parker Harris took the stage to introduce Salesforce's new Chatterbox, which has been billed as a "Dropbox for the enterprise." A direct challenge to file sharing apps like Dropbox and Box, Chatterbox is designed to allow users to manage and share files "in the context of business," Harris said. Chatterbox is scheduled for release next year.

The company also introduced Chatter Communities for Partners, a new partner portal that aims to connect companies with distributors, resellers, and suppliers "to drive sales." The new portal replaces so-called legacy partner portals, the company said.

Salesforce COO George Hu took the stage to introduce Salesforce Identity, a Facebook-like ID management system for the enterprise. The single sign-on system can be pre-integrated across applications, Hu said, so that multiple apps can be accessed without multiple user names, passwords, and logons. Hu said the new ID service "is going to become your passport to any application in your enterprise," Hu said.

Benioff declared this year's Dreamforce conference to be the tech industry's largest event. With a reported 90,000+ attendees -- nearly double last year's numbers -- he might be right.

Posted by John K. Waters on 09/20/2012 at 10:53 AM0 comments

9th VMworld Draws 20k Attendees, Crowd of Vendors

It's hard to believe they wrapped up the 9th annual VMworld conference in San Francisco last week. It seems like only yesterday I sat down with Diane Greene, VMware's co-founder, at a LinuxWorld conference to talk about a then largely misunderstood technology that she, her husband, Stanford professor Mendel Rosenblum, two graduate students (Edouard Gugnion and Scott Devine) and a friend from Berkeley (Edward Wang) had unearthed from the mainframe midden and re-imagined for x86.

This year's show drew an estimated 20,000 attendees and took up all three wings of the Moscone Center. But more remarkable to me was the number of third-party vendors working booths and making announcements at this sprawling event. Here are a few of many highlights I could have mentioned (and would have if they gave me more space in this blog). Some were big news, while some you might not have noticed, but should have:

- Cloud and virtual infrastructure control company HyTrust, for example, unveiled version 3.0 of the HyTrust Appliance -- which is a good example of VMware working with third-party vendors to move virtualization into the enterprise. HyTrust provide policy management and access control to virtual infrastructures. As the company's president and co-founder, Eric Chiu, explained it to me, the HyTrust Appliance (which is virtual) "enforces policies on the control plane of VMware-based virtual infrastructure and provides the visibility required for security and compliance."

"If you think about VMware, it's a new operating system for the data center," Chiu said. "We provide security and compliance controls around VMware's vSphere, in particular around the management and administration. So you get this fine-grained authorization; any time anyone is managing the environment, technically they're going through us."

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company also has one of my favorite slogans from the show: "Virtualization Under Control."

- Zend Technologies announced a partnership with show organizer VMware that integrates the vFabric Application Director with Zend Server. By integrating Zend's PHP-based Web-app server with VMware's cloud-enabled application provisioning solution, the two companies aim to make it easier for enterprises to deploy and manage their virtualized PHP apps to public, private and hybrid clouds. The Cupertino, Calif.-based provider of is the creator and commercial maintainer of the PHP dynamic scripting language and various frameworks, solutions, and services supporting it.

The companies noted in a statement that a "key" to this integration was a set of portable deployment blueprints that Zend created by working closely with VMware. "The blueprints feature a reference implementation that codifies the best-in-class standards of Zend Server for private, public and hybrid clouds," the companies said. "By creating the blueprints, Zend and VMware have made it easier for users to create a self-service interface to provision PHP applications."

- ServiceNow, a provider of cloud-based services that automate enterprise IT operations, announced the addition of end-to-end lifecycle automation for managing VMware virtual machines (VMs). The new capabilities in its cloud-based software are designed to manage the VMs "from creation to retirement," the company said.

"Until now, VMware has provided utilities for provisioning a VM and retiring one, but everything in-between and beforehand has been missing," spokesperson Caitlin Regan for the San Diego-based company said in an e-mail.

Company founder and chief product officer Fred Luddy lead a session at the show entitle "VMs Rock. But managing them on behalf of other people … sucks."

- Seattle's ExtraHop Networks, a provider of network-based application performance monitoring (APM) technology, launched version 3.7 of its Application Delivery Assurance system at this year's show. The new version introduces features that have not been available in the ARM market before, including:

Advanced Web Payload Analysis, which makes it possible for companies to manage all mission critical APIs; Precision Syslogging, which allows orgs to log critical events and metrics that hadn't been available for analysis by log aggregation solutions; Flex Grids, which provides a way to create versatile reporting summaries of user-specified metrics across devices, device groups and apps; and Dynamic GeoMaps, which shows worldwide activity and metrics based a translation of the IP address to a geographical location.

The ExtraHop folks pointed me to a blog post on their site about Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant for APM report. Worth a look if you're following this market.

- Savvis, a provider of cloud infrastructure and hosted IT solutions for the enterprise, unveiled a new cloud ecosystem program, with which the company aims to "deliver greater flexibility in the cloud computing environment through collaboration/partnerships with innovative cloud technology providers."

I'd swear I heard "cloud" and "ecosystem" more often at this show than "virtualization." But the Savvis news is worth noting, if for no other reason than the lineup of participants. Among the participants in the newly launched Savvis Enterprise Cloud Ecosystem Program, the company lists BMC Software, ServiceMesh, Rackware, Compuware, DataGardens, Racemi, RiverMeadow Software and ScaleXtreme.

Under the auspices of this program these companies are making their offerings available to Savvis clients. In return, they get complimentary access to the Savvis Symphony Virtual Private Data Center (VPDC) for API integration and testing. The company describes the VPDC as an "enterprise-class virtual private data center cloud solution." Participants also get direct access to Savvis' product management and engineering teams. They even get to use Savvis' sales and marketing resources.

Savvis is owned by Monroe, La.-based telecommunications company CenturyLink. 

- If there was a buzzphrase at this year's show, it was VMware's "software-defined data center." Network solutions provider Brocade offered a variation on that theme by unveiling its ADX Series of application delivery switches, which are part of its "software-defined networking (SDN) vision, strategy and innovation roadmap." The switches are designed to deliver highly scalable VXLAN (Virtual eXtensible Local Area Network) gateway services for virtualized cloud networks developed in partnership with VMware.

- VMware announced at the show an expansion of its VMware Ready for Networking and Security Program, which the company describes on its Web site as "a partner-focused initiative to integrate third party networking and security products into the VMware vCloud suite. One partner taking advantage of that expansion is F5 Networks, a provider of application delivery networking solutions. The company announced plans to integrate its BIG-IP products using the new program. BIG-IP is a suite of app delivery services designed to work together on the same hardware platform or software virtual instance.

- MokaFive, provider of a desktop-as-a-service platform, demonstrated a new product capability at the show. Dubbed Trickleback, it's a cloud sync capability designed to leverage commercial cloud-storage providers (Amazon S3, for example) to provide customers with "secure, encrypted synchronization of data across all of their computers and mobile devices." It works with both the MokaFive Suite, which includes tools that allows users to create, run, distribute and manage VMs called "LivePCs;" and MokaFive for iOS, which provides secure access to corporate files from an iPad.

Posted by John K. Waters on 09/04/2012 at 10:53 AM0 comments

Java after 2.5 Years with Big O

It would be hard to exaggerate the collective apprehension that seized the Java community when Oracle announced its plans to acquire Sun Microsystems back in 2009, and with it, the stewardship of Java. That acquisition was completed in January 2010, and Java jocks everywhere held their breath.

And then nothing really bad happened.

In fact, if you ask IDC analyst Al Hilwa, Java has fared relatively well in the occasionally clumsy grasp of the database giant in Redwood Shores. In a published report, "Java: Two and a Half Years After the Acquisition," Hilwa argues that the acquisition has been mostly good for Java.

"The story here is one of fears not materializing and a company learning to do the right thing with open source," Hilwa told me in an e-mail.

In his report, Hilwa cites the long-awaited release of Java SE 7 last July as one piece of evidence that "Java made more significant advancements after the Sun acquisition than in the two and half years prior to the acquisition." He also cites Oracle's influence on "key vendors," including IBM, Apple, and SAP, who have joined the OpenJDK open source implementation of Java and "anointed OpenJDK as the reference implementation for the technology."

Perhaps one of the greatest fears at the time of the acquisition was that Oracle would attempt to rule the Java community with a heavy corporate hand without sufficient community input. But in fact, Hilwa writes, "The Java ecosystem is healthy and remains on a growing trajectory, with more programming languages than ever now hosted on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and with many new developers further bolstering the broader Java skills ecosystem as mobile Android developers."

But Big O has managed to make an enemy or two on its way up the slippery Steward-of-Java learning curve, perhaps most notably when it decided to continue refusing to provide the Apache Software Foundation with a license for a Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK), which the ASF needed to complete work on its Harmony implementation of Java SE. Sun was the original denier. The ASF resigned its seat on the Executive Committee (EC) of the Java Community Process (JCP) in November 2011, and the Harmony project was sent to the "Attic," where Apache projects go when they lose their committers.

Earlier that year, Oracle stepped on toes in the open-source Hudson community when it announced plans to migrate the Java-based continuous integration (CI) server project to its infrastructure and trademark the Hudson name. That decision led Hudson community members to vote to rename the project "Jenkins" and move the code from to GitHub. Oracle later donated Hudson, lock stock and source code, to the Eclipse Foundation.

But Hilwa argues that, despite a few wrong turns, Oracle has "navigated most decisions with a deliberate and decisive approach that should inspire the community's confidence in Java's long-term prospects."

Challenges remain for Oracle and the Java community, Hilwa observes, not the least of which is growing pressure on Java "from competing developer ecosystems, including the aggressively managed Microsoft platform ecosystem and the broader Web ecosystem with its diverse technologies and lightweight scripting languages and frameworks." He also believes that the success of Android, and its potential "evolution into client and server form factors," has put Java at risk of fragmentation into "multiple forks of loosely similar but competing technologies" 

"To remain relevant and attractive to new developers," Hilwa concludes, "Java must evolve on a faster schedule and effectively support the ongoing industry transformation into mobile, cloud, and social applications."

Posted by John K. Waters on 08/21/2012 at 10:53 AM0 comments

Apache Hadoop Community Promotes YARN -- But Don't Call it MapReduce 2

The Hadoop community recently promoted YARN -- the next-gen Hadoop data processing framework -- to the status of "sub-project" of the Apache Hadoop Top Level Project. The promotion puts YARN on the same level as Hadoop Common, the Hadoop Distributed File System, and MapReduce. It had been part of the MapReduce project; the promotion means it'll now get the spotlight and developer attention its proponents believe it deserves.

"We now have consent from the community to separate YARN from MapReduce," says Arun C. Murthy. "Which is as it should be. YARN is not another generation of MapReduce, and I really don't like the 'MapReduce 2.0' label. This is a different paradigm. This is much more general and much more interesting."

Murthy ought to know: he's has been a full-time contributor to the Hadoop MapReduce project since it got off the ground at Yahoo in early 2006. Back then, he and fellow Yahoo software engineer Own O'Malley set a world data-sorting record ( using Map-Reduce: a terabyte in 60 seconds. Today, Murthy is a member of the Apache Hadoop Project Management Committee and a co-founder of Hortonworks, one of the chief providers of commercial support and services for Hadoop.

And he's been working on YARN full-time for about two and a half years.

"We knew that we were going to have to take Hadoop beyond MapReduce," Murthy says. "The programming model—the MapReduce algorithm—was limited. It can't support the very wide variety of use-cases we're now seeing for Hadoop. YARN turns Hadoop into a generic resource-management-and-distributed-application framework that lets you implement multiple customized apps. I expect to see MPI, graph-processing, simple services, all co-existing with MapReduce applications in a Hadoop YARN cluster. You can even run MapReduce now as an application for YARN."

Hadoop, of course, is the open-source framework for running applications on large data clusters built on commodity hardware (let's just say it: Big Data). I sometimes forget that Hadoop is actually a combination of two technologies: Google's MapReduce and HDFS. MapReduce is a programming model for processing the large data sets that supports parallel computations on so-called unreliable clusters. HDFS is the storage component designed to scale to petabytes and run on top of the file systems of the underlying operating systems.

What Murthy and others are hoping to do is redefine Hadoop from "HDFS-plus-MapReduce" to "HDFS-plus-YARN."

"The users can now look at Hadoop as a much more general-purpose system," Murthy says. "And from a developer perspective, we've opened up Hadoop itself to the point where now anyone can implement their own applications without having to worry about the nitty-gritty details of how you manage resources in a cluster and what you do for fault tolerance. [Promoting it] will also help us get more users and more developers to build an ecosystem around YARN. I guarantee you that next year at this time, we will be looking at four or five ways of doing real-time processing on Hadoop."

And I had to ask: What does YARN stand for?

"We were sitting around at lunch one day, trying to come up with the most inane names for our product," Murthy confessed to me. "The result was 'Yet Another Resource Negotiator—YARN.' I know: it's a really bad name."

But really promising technology.

Hortonworks is in the process of publishing a still-unfolding series of blogs by Murthy and Hortonworks' product marketing director Jim Walker on the subject of YARN and its implications for Hadoop. And there's a new collaboration mailing list ( for those who want to get involved in the project.

Posted by John K. Waters on 08/15/2012 at 10:53 AM0 comments

Judge Orders Google, Oracle to Disclose Paid Bloggers

This week a California court ordered both Google and Oracle to disclose the identities of any bloggers, commentators or journalists who were paid to write about the companies' courtroom Java battle.

"The Court is concerned that the parties and/or counsel herein may have retained or paid print or internet authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers who have and/or may publish comments on the issues in this case," wrote Judge William Alsup in a Tuesday filing.

The judge added that even though this particular case is almost over, "the disclosure required by this order would be of use on appeal or on any remand to make clear whether any treatise, article, commentary or analysis on the issues posed by this case are possibly influenced by financial relationships to the parties or counsel."

Both sides in the case were ordered to file a statement clearly identifying "all authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers who have reported or commented on any issues in this case and who have received money (other than normal subscription fees) from the party or its counsel during the pendency of this action." The two companies are required to file those statements by Friday, August 17.

Oracle had alleged that Google infringed on Java-related patents and copyrights when it developed its Android operating system. The jury in the case ruled unanimously in May that Google had not infringed on those patents when it developed its Android operating system. But it delivered a partial verdict on May 7, holding that Google had infringed on Oracle's copyrights in its use of 37 Java APIs, but deadlocked on whether that infringement could be considered "fair use."

Alsup is the judge who presided over the case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and ruled in June that the Java APIs are not subject to copyright, though he kept his ruling narrow: "This order does not hold that Java API packages are free for all to use without license," Alsup wrote. "It does not hold that the structure, sequence and organization of all computer programs may be stolen. Rather, it holds on the specific facts of this case, the particular elements replicated by Google were free for all to use under the Copyright Act."

On April 18, blogger Florian Mueller, who writes the FOSS Patents blog and is a long-time follower of the Oracle v. Google case, disclosed to his readers a new consulting relationship with Oracle. Mueller wrote:

  • "I have been following Oracle v. Google since the filing of the lawsuit in August 2010 and have read pretty much every line of each court filing in this litigation. My long-standing views on this matter are well-documented. As an independent analyst and blogger, I will express only my own opinions, which cannot be attributed to any one of my diversity of clients. I often say things none of them would agree with. That said, as a believer in transparency I would like to inform you that Oracle has very recently become a consulting client of mine. We intend to work together for the long haul on mostly competition-related topics including, for one example, FRAND licensing terms."

Mueller noted in that posting that he "vocally opposed Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems."

Posted by John K. Waters on 08/08/2012 at 10:53 AM0 comments

No Project Jigsaw in Java 8

Looks like we won't be seeing the Java-native module system known as Project Jigsaw in the upcoming Java 8 release. In a blog posted this week, the chief architect of Oracle's Java Platform Group, Mark Reinhold, proposed to defer the project to the Java 9 release. Java 8 is currently on track for a September 2013 ship date. Java 9 is currently expected in 2015.

Although "steady progress is being made" on Jigsaw, some "significant technical challenges remain," Reinhold wrote, adding, "There is, more importantly, not enough time left for the broad evaluation, review, and feedback which such a profound change to the Platform demands."

Not to be confused with the weird puppet-head guy in the Saw movies, Project Jigsaw is the OpenJDK project focused on implementing a standard module system for Java Standard Edition (SE). Sponsored by the Java programming language Compiler Group, and originally aimed at modularizing just the JDK, the project will ultimately apply to the Java SE, EE, and ME platforms and the JDK.

"The growing demand for a truly standard module system for the Java Platform motivated expanding the scope of the [Jigsaw] Project," the sponsors explain on the OpenJDK Web site. The goal of the project is to "produce a module system that can ultimately become a JCP-approved part of the Java SE Platform and also serve the needs of the ME and EE Platforms."

When it is implemented, a modular system for Java will "ease the construction, maintenance, and distribution of large applications, at last allowing developers to escape the ‘JAR hell' of the brittle and error-prone class-path mechanism," Reinhold wrote." Such a system will support customizable configurations that scale from large servers to embedded devices and "in the long term, enable the convergence of Java SE with the higher-end Java ME Platforms." Reinhold also pointed out that "Modular applications built on top of a modular platform can be downloaded more quickly, and the run-time performance of the code they contain can be optimized more effectively."

Reinhold expects Java 8 to include the much-anticipated Project Lambda (JSR 335), which adds closures and related features to the Java language to support programming in multicore environments. Java 8 will also include the new Date/Time API (JSR 310), Type Annotations (JSR 308), and "a selection of the smaller features already in progress," he said.

Work on Jigsaw will, in the meantime, proceed at full speed, he added.

In that same blog post, Reinhold also advocated for a regular two-year cycle for all future Java SE releases.

"In all the years I've worked on Java," Reinhold wrote, "I've heard repeatedly that developers, partners, and customers strongly prefer a regular and predictable release cycle. Developers want rapid innovation while enterprises want stability, and a cadence of about two years seems to strike the right balance. It's therefore saner for all involved -- those working on new features, and those who want to use the new features -- to structure the development process as a continuous pipeline of innovation that's only loosely coupled to the actual release process, which itself has a constant rhythm. If a major feature misses its intended release train then that's unfortunate but it's not the end of the world: It will be on the next train, which will also leave at a predictable time."

IDC analyst and long-time Java watcher Al Hilwa believes that the delayed release of Project Jigsaw is probably the right move.

"Java does not exist in a vacuum and delays in the Java modularity project of the JDK will no doubt hinder certain parts of the ecosystem," Hilwa told ADTmag. "However, under the circumstances, I think it is wise to prioritize schedule over features. The maturity of any development process is measured by the predictability of its schedule. Oracle has done a decent job of steering Java to be schedule driven, and kudos to the team for owning up at the right time, because the ecosystem needs to know as early as possible."

I would argue that the success of the annual Eclipse Release Train, now in its seventh year, offers an example of the value of predictable releases, both in terms of reassuring the commercial adopters and the community itself. Hilwa believes that the releases should come even faster.

"I would argue that, in the era of cloud services, social interaction, and mobile app stores, a faster cadence is needed," Hilwa added, "and the two-year cycle should give way to a more incremental and faster approach to development everywhere."


Posted by John K. Waters on 07/19/2012 at 10:53 AM0 comments

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