JavaOne Recap: Java First! Java in the Cloud!

If you had to boil down the keynote messages from Oracle executives and guest speakers at this year's JavaOne conference, held in San Francisco last week, you could do it with two phrases: Java first! and Java in the cloud! If you had a little more room in the pot, you could add: Java SE 9 and Java EE 8 are ready to rock!

Georges Saab, VP of development for Oracle's Java Platform Group and chairperson of the OpenJDK governing board, rolled out some genuinely impressive Java growth statistics on the keynote stage: 12 million developers are running Java today, and there are 38 billion active JVMs and 21 billion cloud-connected JVMs. But the goal now, he said, is to get Java in shape for a cloud-centric future.

"Thoughtful evolution has helped Java grow into the most vibrant programming language on the planet," he said. "Moving forward we want to make sure Java is well positioned for modern development and growth within the cloud."

Mark Cavage, Oracle's new VP of product development in the Java and Container Native Platform group, led the Java First charge with an initial focus on enterprise Java.

"If you take an honest look at where we are today," he said, "we can apply that famous Redmonk quote: 'When companies grow up, they turn into Java shops.' That tells us something, though. It tells us that people are writing in something first and then rewriting in Java. We need to change that… We want the next decade to be Java first and Java always."

Cavage called Java EE "the bedrock of mission critical systems" that "powers the enterprise," but it's also a platform that still needs to be modernized for the cloud and microservices and serverless.

"We have fundamentally opened up Java EE," he said, by contributing it to the open source Eclipse Foundation, but the work there is just starting. "We are going to be heads down over the next few months, getting to a 1.0 release of [Eclipse] Java EE," he said.

Cavage brought three well-known Java EE community leaders to the stage to talk about the future of enterprise Java. Tomitribe founder and CEO David Blevins observed that the next generation of developers will be inheriting the newly open-sourced enterprise Java, which he called "EE4J," (the current Eclipse project designation), and that makes it, literally, Java EE for the next generation.

Ian Robinson, chief architect of WebSphere Foundation at IBM, was optimistic about the future of open-source enterprise Java. "For people building solutions on top of Java EE, having this new community fired up with energy gives them encouragement that the future for Java EE is strong." But he added a warning to manage expectations: there's a lot of work ahead, he said.

Red Hat's VP of engineering, Mark Little, who helped to create the MicroProfile and move it to Eclipse, described the "ground swell" of interest and participation that followed that move. He said he expects to see the same support grow around EE4J. The move "allows two big communities to come together to drive enterprise Java into the next decade."

Cavage characterized the newly released Java SE 9, as a "transformational release," thanks, of course to the long-awaited modularization of Java via the Jigsaw project. "Modules are this amazing thing that will let us turn the corner, let us evolve," he said.

He also announced that Oracle is taking steps to fully open source the Oracle JDK. "There will be zero differences between the OpenJDK and the Oracle JDK," he said. "You now truly have a free and open Java that you've never had before."

He also verified that the accelerated release cadence that had been under discussion before the conference would, in fact, be implemented. "That open, truly free Java we talked about, will be coming at you every six months," he said.

Redmonk co-founder and analyst James Governor (who made that statement about companies growing up to be Java shops) joined Cavage onstage. He brought along the latest Redmonk programming language rankings chart, which, he pointed out, has consistently ranked Java near the top.

"This open source move, we cannot underestimate the significance of it," he said. "If we're going to have a chance for the community to flourish, if we're going to have a chance to expand the ecosystem, it was necessary that Oracle took these steps."

Cavage went on to talk about Java in the cloud, which, he argued is now pervasive. "It doesn't matter what you're working on, cloud is in your life, or it will be," he said. Rather than talk about the business side of the cloud, Cavage focused on the developer experience.

"At the end of the day, cloud is about building a distributed system," he said. "Those are hard—super hard. It changes the way you have to think, tool, build, deploy, scale, and operate our services."

Cavage turned to two "hyperscale web companies" for real-world examples of Java in the cloud. Spotify's principal architect Niklas Gustavsson took the stage to talk about how his music streaming company shifted from Python to Java using a microservices architecture to solve their large-scale distributed compute problems. The JVM allowed the Swedish company to "observe what was happening in runtime in two ways: collecting runtime metrics on the platform itself or profiling the service while running in production," Gustavsson said.

Craig McLuckie, CEO of Heptio and co-founder of Kubernetes, talked about the relationship among Java, Kubernetes, and the Docker ecosystem. "Containers are hermetically sealed, highly predictable units of deployment with high portability," he said. McLuckie predicted that containers would bring about the end of middleware as we know it.

Cavage promoted Kubernetes as the optimal open source container orchestrator for Java devs, and announced an open source project involving microservices development for Java developers on top of Kubernetes.

Cavage wrapped up his presentation with the announcement of a new Oracle project, called "Fn," an open source serverless functions platform. Chad Arimura, vice president of serverless development at Oracle, actually made the announcement. He showed how container-based solutions leveraging Java and serverless architectures are complementary and work together to enable Java developers to build modern, distributed applications with continuous integration and delivery.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].