Back in October at JavaOne, representatives from the Java Community Process (JCP), the group that certifies Java specifications, talked about changes coming to the organization. First on the list was the "low-hanging fruit" of transparency, participation, agility and governance addressed in Java Specification Request (JSR) 348. Since then the community has been, in the words of JCP chair Patrick Curran, "revising the process through the process."
Now the JCP has gotten around to a moderately trickier adjustment: The promised merger of the two JCP Executive Committees: the SE/EE EC and the ME EC.
"JSR 355: JCP Executive Committee Merge" seeks to merge the two ECs and reduce the total number of committee members (there are 32 right now). The JSR includes a provision for maintaining the existing two-to-one ratio of ratified-to-elected seats, and a rule that neither Oracle nor any other member may hold more than one seat on the merged EC.
The ECs are charged with guiding "the evolution of Java," and it's not a small job. The ECs pick the JSRs that will be developed, approve draft specs and final specs, approve Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) licenses, approve maintenance revisions and occasionally defer features to new JSRs, approve transfer of maintenance duties between members and provide guidance to the Program Management Office (PMO).
Curran is the spec lead on JSR 355, and the initial Expert Group membership consists of all members of the ME and the SE/EE Executive Committees -- including, among others, Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation; Red Hat's Mark Little; brand new EC member Twitter's Attila Szegedi; Intel's Anil Kumar; and Google's Joshua Block.
The Expert Group has committed on the JCP Web site "to complete the JSR within about six months, thereby permitting the changes to be initiated during the 2012 elections," but also allows that the changes "may need be phased in over time."
The JCP also states its case for the consolidation:
Changes in the Java ME market, and the increasing maturity and consolidation of the Java market generally, suggests that some rebalancing between Java ME and the other platforms, together with a modest reduction in the total number of EC members, would be appropriate. Looking forward, the expected convergence between Java ME and Java SE is likely to render the current division into two separate ECs increasingly irrelevant. Since Java is One Platform, it ought to be overseen by a single Executive Committee.
Curran put it more succinctly during his aforementioned JavaOne session: "It seems like the right thing to do," he said, "that we should have a single executive committee which will deal with all of the three platforms -- because it is one platform with three flavors."
Let me know what you think about this merging of ECs in the comments!
Posted by John K. Waters on 02/07/2012 at 10:53 AM0 comments
If you were wondering whether Mac developers were also facing the pressure to become polyglot programmers so many industry watchers mentioned in their 2012 predictions (like this one and this one), consider the recent announcement from Zend Technologies. The creator and commercial maintainer of PHP announced the general availability of its Web app server, Zend Server 5.6, featuring new support for Macheads.
According the company's CEO and co-founder Andi Gutmans, Zend has been seeing an increased demand from "the community that develops on the Mac."
"We've seen this demand for Mac support from the Zend PHP developer community, at the annual ZendCon event, on Zend Forums and among user groups worldwide," Gutmans told me in an e-mail. "Now, Mac developers can leverage the agility of PHP for Web app development when they use Zend Server, with the best PHP runtime, powerful monitoring, diagnostics and performance optimization."
Okay, maybe it was his PR team. The point is, Zend does a consistent job of responding to trends surfaced by customers asking for new features. Not bleeding-edge fads, but real, late-in-the-hype-cycle trends. Last August, for example, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company released Zend Server 5.5, which essentially addressed the increasing unpredictability of traffic and workloads caused both by the growing popularity of the cloud and the proliferation of end user devices. Mobile and the cloud are not breaking news. Zend was responding directly to customer demand, Kent Mitchell, Zend's director of product management, told me at the time.
And now Zend is responding to Mac developers who, they say, want to have access to the full suite of Zend Server application development capabilities previously available only to Linux and Windows developers. Actually, that should be enterprise Mac developers. And my lead sentence should probably have read, "If you were wondering whether Mac is moving into the enterprise…"
Gutmans' PR team also sent an interesting list, entitled "Why Mac Matters to the Development World," which included:
- There are now nearly 60 million Mac users worldwide.
- Mac runs neck and neck with Linux based on Zend's 3-year history of Zend Studio IDE downloads
- Zend has seen steadily growing interest for Zend Server's enterprise-class capabilities on the Mac platform -- from within the Zend PHP developer community, at the annual ZendCon event, on Zend Forums, and among user groups worldwide.
As Mac use grows in the enterprise, the company reasons, so does PHP use.
More info on Zend Server is available on the company Web site. There's also video tour of the product.
Posted by John K. Waters on 02/01/2012 at 10:53 AM0 comments
The problem the company faced, providing a Web site that would be rich and dynamic on devices that weren't very powerful, is a common one in the enterprise, Galbraith said. Node solves that problem, he said, by allowing his team to deliver sophisticated features to mobile users on the client side. All front-end code in Wal-Mart's mobile app is now executed on the back end.
"We're excited to have a viable back end for that," Galbraith said. "That's why Node really excited us, and at Wal-Mart, we're doing a lot with that kind of architecture right now."
"We rely on services all over the world," Almaer added. "But we don't use all of those services. Node allows us to front all these services... and scale up very nicely. It's perfect for what we're doing in mobile."
The duo (and they are a team) said that they considered using HTML 5, but decided against it.
"We haven't seen people create what we want for retail in an HTML 5 app," Galbraith said. "For us, hybrid is more interesting in something like what the LinkedIn app has done. It's the same UI across all platforms, but it provides a native experience."
If you have any doubts about the potential impact of Wal-Mart's decision to embrace Node.js, consider its influence on RFID. In 2003 the company announced plans to roll out an RFID tagging program with its suppliers. As Mark Roberti put it in his recent analysis of enterprise RFID deployments, "RFID is woven into the fabric of [Wal-Mart's] IT systems." A number of big retailers have followed Wal-Mart's example, including Macy's, which, earlier this month, announced that it would require clothing suppliers to apply passive ultrahigh-frequency RFID tags to items that account for about 30 percent of the company's sales.
BTW: Almaer and Galbraith founded the Ajaxian.
Posted by John K. Waters on 01/30/2012 at 10:53 AM0 comments
Scanning the 2012 horizon with Martin Schneider, research manager at 451 Research, it's hard not to feel excited about the coming year. Schneider, who covers core business applications, app platforms, and next-gen data systems for the enterprise IT analyst firm, expects to see an acceleration of a number of trends that have been gaining momentum over the past few years. Chief among them: the rise of DevOps.
"We're starting to see a confluence and crunching together of systems," Schneider said. "Which is good, because it takes a lot of the work out of managing application system, and a lot of time out of building them. What we're seeing with the cloud, open source and SaaS (as it relates to the cloud) is a lot less that has to be bought from a component perspective, and a lot more freedom for developers."
But, he added, because of the cloud, the relationship of developers to the systems they build is evolving.
"When you build clouds and use cloud components," he said, "you don't just develop anymore; you develop and maintain. These things become living systems, and developers need to understand the use case a little better. They need to get comfortable with the idea of maintaining applications, rather than just building features and functionality. The operational aspect needs to be taken into consideration much more than ever before."
Schneider also agrees with other industry prognosticators that we're entering the age of the polyglot programmer.
"We've seen this already, but I think it's a trend that's going to come to a head," he said. "What sometimes gets missed is that developers going to be expected to know more arcane languages, such as Erlang, which has been popping up regularly over the past 24 months. As we get into highly asynchronous, cloud-based, distributed systems, where you need to write one platform that runs on your desktop, your mobile, and your tablet, you need to know these [kinds of languages], because they're more scalable and cloud-friendly. And not many people do. Right now, there are only a few thousand people in the world that you could call Erlang experts."
"It's smart for the developers to understand this trend now, because it means they'll be able to make more money," he added. "But the important thing to keep in mind is, the days of, Oh, I'm a Java guy, are over. I think 2012 is the beginning of the end of that."
Also, in 2012, developers are going to have to begin thinking like database administrators, Schneider said.
"The cloud changes the way we leverage data," he said. "It's distributed, it's highly scalable. The structured relational model doesn't work in the cloud. The licensing is too strict, it's too expensive, it's too inflexible, it's out of date. Developers need to think about data even more. We've seen that as you see people build for things like Twitter, but I think it's going to explode, because everybody is starting to need to scale the way Twitter does. Business want to get value out of these Terabytes of information that they before they kind of ignored. Developers are going to be asked to start building applications that understand, accept, consume and get value out of all these data."
Finally, the user experience: "Gen Y is starting to use business and consumer applications at a level that no other generation ever did. And they expect the experience to be consistent whether they're at work, at home, working on their laptops, their tablets, or their phones. And that creates a challenge for developers."
Schneider believes that developers are beginning to "get the user experience at a different level," he added. And one spark of a trend he expects to generate some heat in the enterprise in 2012 is the application of BtoC tools, such as loyalty programs and gamifcation (think Zynga).
"It's the idea of pulling people in immediately and helping them to unlock the power of the application, so they become the 'power user' inside an organization," he said. "You drive much more value and lifecycle out of your application doing it that way. We're seeing companies like Bunchball and Badgeville trying to bring this into the business world, usually embedded in things like Salesforce.com. But I think we might see a more generic use of that. "You can build the coolest app in the world, but if there isn't an incentive to use it, that's both natural, innate and around the business, people just won't use it."
Posted by John K. Waters on 01/17/2012 at 10:53 AM3 comments
Two weeks into 2012 and I'm already getting a sense of what the new year holds in store for enterprise software developers. I don't have a crystal ball, of course, but I've been talking with industry watchers who do -- at least I think that's how they do it. Or is it careful observation of industry trends and rigorous data analysis? How about Tarot cards?
I've been checking in with Jason Bloomberg to get the skinny on SOA and enterprise architecture almost since he and Ron Schmelzer founded ZapThink back in 2000, and more recently on architectural approaches to cloud computing. ZapThink became a division of Dovèl Technologies late last summer, and Bloomberg became the division's president. Schmelzer, who often described himself to me as a serial entrepreneur, is busy with his new company, Bizelo.
Bloomberg identified three key the Agile architecture trends that he believes are likely to affect developers:
HTML 5 Reaches a Tipping Point
"HTML 5 is maturing as the next generation of Web markup to the point where we see it as a replacement for Adobe Flash," Bloomberg said. "But also as a common mobile development platform. If you're building an app for an iPhone, you use Objective C; if you're building one for Android, you use Java. But with HTML 5, you can do almost everything you can do with the native application environment, but in a cross-platform way. It gives you much more flexibility and opens up a whole new realm of possibility for mobile and enterprise development."
He also points to HTML 5's WebSocket technology, which provides a way to establish a full duplex tunnel through HTTP for high volume bi-directional communication. "The classic example is real-time stock quotes," Bloomberg said, "but it's really anything that requires a multi-media conversation between clients and servers. It opens up all kinds of possibilities in terms of richer application capabilities in user interfaces, as well as interacting with server side capabilities."
The Next Generation of REST
"Most people don't really get what REST (Representational State Transfer) is all about," Bloomberg said, "even people who call themselves RESTifarians. There's this misconception that REST is about building APIs. What REST is really about is building distributed hypermedia applications. In particular, if you look at the four REST constraints, the most important is that hypermedia have to be the engine of application state. Why this is important is that it frees the middle tier from having to maintain application state, because it pushes application state to the client. The persistence tier still maintains what the REST world calls resource state. But if you can push application state to the client, you can now have a stateless middle tier. This is especially important if you are using the cloud, where you need a stateless middle tier to make that elastic. You can provision additional servers without having to worry about the state of some ongoing application."
"Once people start figuring out what this is all about," he added, "it turns how we do BPM (Business Process Management) on its head. We don't use some central process engine anymore; we rely on the client to maintain application state, and this is the only way we can move BPM into the cloud and take advantage of the elasticity benefits. From the developer perspective, they're already playing with REST, but there's this next step of hypermedia-based workflow based on REST. It just changes the way we do work flow.
Cloud Configuration Management
"There's no way we can do Agile development for the cloud unless we do automated configuration management," Bloomberg said. "We have to raise the bar on that. It's not good enough simply to have, say, a server image that we're going to deploy here and there and think of that as automation. We basically have to come up with a model-driven approach for provisioning everything, so that if we need to do a cache or do some additional virtual machine instances, it can all be done in an automated way."
"What that means is moving that configuration management back to the developers," he added. "It's part of the DevOps story. Developers essentially have to code how operations do their job, because operations should be fully automated. We don't want manual operations, because they can't keep up.
Bloomberg points to his favorite example: Amazon.com.
"The development lifecycle at Amazon.com is more than one deployment per minute, every minute, 24 hours a day," he said. "That's were development is going. How can they do that? It's because it's a fully automated cloud-based environment. It's not like they've gotten everything right yet, but that's the direction. If you look the enterprise, where they have six to nine month development cycles, that's the dark ages! Amazon and Google are generations ahead. That's where the technology is going, and enterprises, to be competitive, will have to get with the program. And part of your role as an enterprise developer is thinking about how you can take advantage of the cloud."
If you're not getting ZapFlash, Bloomberg's semi-regular newsletter, you can grab the RSS feed here.
More predictions for 2012 from savvy industry watchers in upcoming posts.
Posted by John K. Waters on 01/09/2012 at 10:53 AM0 comments
There aren't many of us who will be looking back on 2011 with a wistful sigh. But if my conversations with industry watchers this week are any indication, enterprise software developers have a lot to look forward to in 2012 -- and a couple of things to prepare for.
Gartner analyst Eric Knipp shared a few of his firm's beyond-2012 predictions in an e-mail:
- By 2015, at least 20 percent of the Global 2000 organizations will use Ruby in opportunistic application development projects.
- By 2014, 75 percent of the Fortune 1000 will offer public Web APIs.
- Through 2014, 60 percent of the value of PaaS functionality will be delivered and recognized as SaaS revenue.
- By 2015, aPaaS providers that do not offer differentiated SaaS will not be profitable.
"aPaaS" is Gartner's acronym for Application Platform-as-a-Service, which Knipp and fellow analyst Yefim Natis defined in a report as a "highly productive, easy to learn and use development environment that delivers business applications that are customizable, changeable, capable of implementing serious business functionality and, when deployed, offered with massive scalability, high-end enterprise-class (and beyond) performance and reliability, supporting massive amounts of data, all at SMB prices."
The implications of these prognostications for developers this year, Knipp said, are fairly straightforward and not to be ignored:
- aPaaS will continue to provide a broader range of services. Expect to see serious players acquire context brokerage capabilities to expand the portfolio of services interesting to mobile app developers, for example.
- Expect to "build the APIs first" in an increasing number of projects. You will start from the middle out, rather than designing the presentation or database layer first.
- More polyglot programmers. We will start to value the jack of all trades more than the master of one.
- Bonus -- Not in my predictions but others at Gartner spoke of it this year: We're All Developers Now. Citizen developer activities will accelerate.
To this list, he added another bit of advice: "When you're choosing aPaaS to build your app on, put a premium on ecosystem and ecosystem-oriented features (e.g. multi-tenancy management, billing and subscription management, marketplace, and so on). The last aPaaS men standing will be those who build the biggest portfolio of ISV offerings running SaaS in the platform."
(BTW: If you're not reading Knipp's blog, you should be.)
More predictions for 2012 from savvy industry watchers in upcoming posts.
Posted by John K. Waters on 01/06/2012 at 10:53 AM2 comments
"Lifecycle virtualization fundamentally transforms the lifecycle and eliminates many of the common challenges faced by development and test teams…. [It] and its associated technologies assist development, test, and operations teams in cutting the Gordian Knot of schedule, cost, and quality."
That's a piece of the provocative opening statement of a new "category snapshot" report by industry analysts Theresa Lanowitz and Lisa Dronzek. Lanowitz and Dronzek are founder and co-founder respectively of market research firm voke, inc., which focuses on cutting-edge tech and emerging trends that affect enterprises, technology vendors, venture capitalist and financial analysts.
I've been following the virtualization market since it was... well... rediscovered by Stanford prof Mendel Rosenblum, who co-founded VMware with his wife, Diane Green, Stanford grad students Edouard Gugnion and Scott Devine, and Berkeley engineer Edward Wang back in 1998. The value of server virtualization was clear to everyone almost immediately -- it stemmed server sprawl and cut enterprise energy consumption (often dramatically). It wasn't long before companies were virtualizing everything from the desktop to the network. But lifecycle virtualization was a new one on me. The app lifecycle is now pretty well understood; there's a requirements phase, followed by an architecting phase, then coding, testing, tracking, release and maintenance (or some slight variation thereof). But how do you virtualize all that?
You do it, Lanowitz told me, with a combination of existing and often complementary solutions: virtual lab management, virtualized cloud platforms, service virtualization, defect virtualization (virtualized defect identification and/or reproduction) and device virtualization (the management of physical and virtual test devices). The trick here is to recognize that they're providing parts of a larger machine. It's a big-picture idea that Lanowitz sees as potentially transformative.
"There are all these solutions and tools out there that are serving only small portions of the market right now," Lanowitz said. "But if you put them all together on top of the application lifecycle management application you're using, you have this thing we're calling lifecycle virtualization."
No single vendor currently offers a unified Virtual ALM solution right now, though something like that is probably on the horizon, Lanowitz predicts. In the meantime, she offers a list of vendors and typically compatible products that provide key the pieces of this model:
Virtual Lab Management (VLM)
• CA Technologies CA 3TeraAppLogic
• Citrix XenClient
• Citrix XenServer
• Microsoft Visual Studio Test Professional 2010
• Microsoft Visual Studio Ultimate 2010 with MSDN
• Wind River Test Manager
Virtualized Cloud Platforms
• Citrix CloudPortal
• Citrix CloudStack
• Electric Cloud Electric Commander
• Skytap Cloud
• VMWare vCloud Director
• ITKO (CA) LISA
• HP Service Virtualization
• Parasoft Virtualize
• ITKO(CA) LISA
• Microsoft Visual Studio Test Professional 2010
• Microsoft Visual Studio Ultimate 2010 with MSDN
• Parasoft Virtualize
• Replay Solutions ReplayDIRECTOR
• Wind River Simics
"Lifecycle virtualization solves a lot of those big, classic problems that people have been struggling with for a long time," Lanowitz said. "It essentially eliminates these time-consuming tedious and manual activities, and frees them to do other more productive things."
Lanowitz and Dronzek expect lifecycle virtualization to become "the hub of the modern lifecycle" that will "shatter silos across development, QA, and operations." They see it as a major disruptor that will break bottlenecks in the lifecycle. And they expect to see widespread adoption across all industry sectors by the middle of 2013.
The complete voke Category Snapshot report on Lifecycle Virtualization is available now to voke's annual research subscribers.
Posted by John K. Waters on 12/02/2011 at 10:53 AM0 comments
Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is collaborating with BlueStacks to optimize the latter company's App Player for Windows for tablet and notebook PCs based on AMD's Accelerated Processing Unit (APU).
The Campbell, Calif.-based startup's App Player makes it possible to run Android phone apps on Windows machines. Essentially, it's an emulated Android mode for Windows that provides exclusive access to one application at a time. The pitch for developers is, not surprisingly, that the solution expands their consumer user based dramatically. But the BlueStacks' technology can also be integrated into offerings for enterprise market segments, the company says.
"It's not just about playing games on a big screen," said Manju Hegde, corporate vice president, AMD Fusion Experience Program. "We found that, even with the relative inefficiencies of an application running on Android that is virtualized for Windows, still there was in several applications a 20 to 30 percent improvement in performance," Hegde said. "There's still plenty of headroom, which opens things up considerably."
AMD's Fusion APUs, which were unveiled in January, combine a multicore CPU, a DirectX 11 video and parallel processing engine, a dedicated Universal Video Decoder 3 (UVD3) HD video acceleration block, and a high-speed bus for carrying data among the APU's cores. The APUs come with the company's VISION Engine Software, which AMD boasts is constantly updated to improve system performance and stability.
"Partly because of the success of the iPhone and iPad," Hegde said, "a lot of the small, independent developers are going after the low-power applications. And there's this belief that all the sexiness in the developer community is going there. But I don't believe that's true. There are a number of new apps that have come out on Android that lend themselves really well to x86. BlueStacks virtualizes these apps over Windows, so they're immediately available on a PC."
AMD is actually investing in BlueStacks through its Fusion Fund program, which makes strategic investments in companies that are developing "unique, digital consumer and professional experiences that harness the horsepower of AMD Fusion APU products."
AMD's investment in BlueStacks will help the young company "create an environment where your favorite apps can be accessed regardless of platform technology, providing greater entertainment and productivity value," said Rosen Sharma, BlueStacks' president and CEO in a statement.
This announcement is another example of AMD's ongoing interest in supporting software developers. In June, the chipmaker sponsored a developer conference (The Fusion Developer Summit), which provided three days of keynotes, breakout sessions, and hands-on labs all designed to help developers to make the most of its evolving technology.
"When the PC market was young," Hegde told ADTmag at the time, "it was possible to sell based on technical merits and technology metrics -- basically, processor speed. But as the market matures, and as Apple has shown the world so forcefully, end users care about solutions based on what they want to do -- solutions and experiences -- not megahertz and gigahertz. All these experience that users really care about come from a strong ecosystem between us and developers..."
The alpha version of the BlueStacks App Player can be downloaded now from the company's Web site.
Posted by John K. Waters on 11/28/2011 at 10:53 AM0 comments
The Eclipse open source community is celebrating a birthday this month, as we reported last week. So is one of the founding members of the Eclipse Foundation: Genuitec announced the availability of version 10.0 of its MyEclipse Java EE IDE.
The Flower Mound, Texas-based Genuitec's MyEclipse, is both a Java EE IDE and a Web development tool suite for the Eclipse platform. The company promotes the tool for developers using UML, JSP, XML, Struts, JSF and EJBs. It supports Ajax, Web Services development, Java Persistence, extended database support and application server integration.
MyEclipse Workbench Enterprise Edition 10.0 is built on Eclipse Indigo (v3.7, released in June), and it continues the company's support for the Apache Maven build automation and software comprehension technology.
The production release supports HTML5 and Java EE6, and comes with new support for JPA 2.0, JSF 2.0, Eclipselink 2.1 and Apache's OpenJPA 2.0 release. The company overhauled the MyEclipse in-workspace deployment in this release, making it easier to collaborate and share their workspace settings or user profiles among team members. MyEclipse Blue Edition supports the latest build of WebSphere Portal Server 7.0, WebSphere 8, as well as WebSphere 6.1 and 7. IBM's DB2 series is supported with database integration connectors on both Windows and Linux operating systems. My Eclipse for Spring incorporates a suite of Spring-specific add-ons for Eclipse, including bean wizards, bean editors, Spring configuration editors, Spring Web Flow editors, content assist, refactoring support, project validation, Spring DSL and bean dependency graphs.
I've had the pleasure of interviewing MyEclipse CEO Maher Masri several times, and I've found him to be a keen observer of the Eclipse ecosystem. In the press release for this product announcement, he said, "Genuitec was born in 2001 out of sheer frustration that the tools market did not do a better job supporting developers, so in 2003 -- with the founding of the Eclipse Foundation -- we introduced MyEclipse... The mission of Genuitec has remained the same over these 10 years: to give developers an enterprise technology driven by their demands at a price they can pay out of their own pocket if necessary...."
When I talked with Masri in 2008 about the MyEclipse 7.0 release, he said, "Most people think of Eclipse as a platform for development tools. We subscribe to the idea that Eclipse can be a framework for any kind of application."
In 2007, when I talked with Masri about the then-new Eclipse Pulse, an online social network and product catalog combo for Eclipse users, he observed, "The Eclipse Foundation walks a fine line between providing a platform and consuming its own ecosystem. It relies on companies like us to take that work forward -- to provide tooling and technologies on top of the platform, and to consume that platform. And that enlarges the overall ecosystem."
When I talked with Masri back in 2005 about MyEclipse 5.0, he said, "The tooling is just a stepping stone into what is becoming a very exciting market."
Posted by John K. Waters on 11/09/2011 at 10:53 AM0 comments