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Q&A: Martijn Verburg on the New MicroProfile.io Project

In an earlier post I wrote about a new independent effort to support Enterprise Java, the MicroProfile.io project, which aims to create a baseline platform definition that optimizes Java EE for microservices architecture. I connected this week with Martijn Verburg, co-leader of the London Java Users Group (LJC), one of the initiative's founding organizations, to get some additional details on the project. Verburg is also the CEO of jClarity and a very knowledgeable Java maven.

(He lives in the UK and I'm in Silicon Valley, so our conversation took place over e-mail.)

JKW: The MicroProfile.io initiative is also sponsored by Red Hat, IBM, Payara and Tomitribe. How did these organizations come together?

Verburg: There has always been collaboration among these vendors on various open-source software projects, in particular around Java EE. For the MicroProfile initiative they'd been having separate discussions for two to three months leading up to the announcement. The first discussion was around the future of Enterprise Java and how it needed to adapt to the new world of Microservices, Cloud native and reactive, without losing the longevity, interoperability, and standards that the marketplace was used to having.

The second discussion was around the lack of progress on several key Java EE 8 specifications (about six to nine months of no movement from Oracle as it was figuring out its internal strategy for Java in this space). The LJC was involved in those early discussions, representing the Enterprise Java developer community and their myriad needs and wants.

(When I say "Enterprise Java developer," I broadly mean engineers that work primarily with some set of Java EE components at the core of their applications, such as Servlet or JAX-RS.)

JKW: Why is the project necessary?

Verburg: As a group we decided that there needed to be stronger and faster collaboration for working on new APIs and implementations that would make this new world of Microservices accessible to millions of Enterprise Java developers. It was important that this collaboration happened pre standardization, as it needed to be fast, throw away bad ideas, and provide the freedom to try new ideas! This is so that we can validate these ideas amongst the vendors and amongst the developers that will be using these new APIs.

JKW: The project goal of creating a baseline platform definition that optimizes Enterprise Java the for microservices architecture is pretty clear. Is there anything else you'd like to say about that?

Verburg: That [the initiative] is very much a partnership between the developer community and the vendors. In fact, I'd even say that it's leaning toward a relationship in which the developers are expressing their requirements in this space and the vendors are responding by rapidly prototyping ideas and getting feedback and refinement from the community.

JKW: Will the initiative become a JSR in the Java Community Process or an Oracle JEP, or is that even necessary?

Verburg: We'd like to see parts of the platform go through a standardization effort (when ready), yes. I guess you could see it as an incubator for potential standardization work. It's something that the JCP has actually always encouraged; they like to see multiple implementations of a technology, with a baseline of those competing implementations being standardized.

JKW: Have you all thought about how you'll manage the project -- organizational governance, that sort of thing?

Verburg: There's a mailing list thread that started today about the potential move to a Software Foundation. All of the partners agree that it would be a good step for the initiative and would help enshrine its neutrality and collaboration.

JKW: MicroProfile.io seems likely to put even more pressure on Oracle to pay attention to Java EE. Am I right about that? Have you heard anything from Oracle about the project?

Verburg: Oracle have started to shed some light on some of their ideas around this area, and we've invited them to join in the effort. They recently stated at the JCP EC meeting (minutes to be released shortly) that they'll look into doing that, as well as making their plans on Java EE 8 clearer going forward. We find that encouraging.

Posted by John K. Waters on August 12, 2016