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Java EE Evangelist Rahman Leaves Oracle, Forms 'Java EE Guardians'

The list of Java evangelists exiting Oracle got a little longer this month when Reza Rahman announced that he would be leaving the company. But Rahman is not going quietly. In a personal blog post, he stated that he left because of his growing skepticism about Oracle's stewardship of enterprise Java, which he said was "independently shared by the ever vigilant Java EE community outside Oracle."

"As an evangelist, your entire existence depends on trust from the community," Rahman told me in an interview, "but I found I could not give the community straight answers about what Oracle is doing. In the end, I could not reconcile this."

And he couldn't leave it alone, either: Rahman and members of the community he served have joined forces to form the Java EE Guardians, a group of volunteers committed to supporting enterprise Java where they believe Oracle is falling down on the job.

The group has been meeting informally behind the scenes for a while, Rahman said, but is now formalizing the organization and going public with a Google Group (Java EE Guardians) and a Twitter handle (@javaee_guardian). It's still early days, but Rahman said to expect vision and mission statements, soon.

About 100 people have joined the Java EE Guardians as of this writing. The group's immediate plan is to assemble evidence to support their assertion that Java EE is, in fact, critical technology that needs more attention from Oracle. We can expect "complete metrics," Rahman said. Once that's established, they'll go on to substantiate their assertion that Oracles investment in server-side Java is not where it should be. They also intend to raise awareness of their concerns among Oracle's customers.

"Java EE is very much key to the overall server-side Java ecosystem, and maybe even the health of Java itself," Rahman said. "Without core investments from Oracle into Java EE, there's a very large part of the ecosystem that will be severely weakened. I simply do not believe that Oracle is doing enough with the Java EE specs, and I do not think they are fulfilling their commitment to the community. And I am very much not alone in this belief."

Ultimately, he said the group wants to secure the evolution of Java EE, and they're volunteering their own time to do it -- to "fill the resources gap" they perceive now to exist. They're even prepared take over some Java Specification Requests (JSRs), Rahman said.

"The reality is, the Java EE community is the most vocal and the most passionate, and yet they are the people Oracle is not leveling with today," Rahman said. "It's a huge problem."

Rahman was an independent consultant before joining Oracle, and he's gone back to that work with CapTech Consulting. He has served on the Java EE, EJB, and JMS expert groups for the JCP. He implemented the EJB container for the Resin open source Java EE application server. And he co-wrote EJB 3 in Action (with Debu Panda and Derek Lane). To say that he's passionate about Java EE would be an understatement.

He saw the writing on the wall at Oracle, he said, when the head of company's Java EE group, senior vice president Cameron Purdy, left last year amid rumors that Oracle was thinning its Java evangelist ranks. Rahman described Purdy in his personal blog as "a gem in the executive ranks of our industry," and one of the reasons he signed on to evangelize Java EE at Oracle.

Rahman says the greatest challenge the Java EE Guardians face is getting Oracle to accept their work, to essentially acknowledge that there is a problem. "The bottom line is, if Oracle is not committed to server-side Java and not committed to supporting the EE space, then fundamentally, someone else needs to step in."

I contacted Oracle for comment, but the company had not gotten back to me at press time.

This is an unfolding story, so stay tuned.

Posted by John K. Waters on March 22, 2016