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JavaOne 2013: It's a Great Time To Be a Developer

I've been saying in this blog for a while now that it's a great time to be a developer, but it's nice to hear that notion echoed from someone like IBM distinguished engineer John Duimovich.

Duimovich, who serves as Big Blue's Java CTO, spoke on Sunday in San Francisco at the annual JavaOne kickoff keynote. IBM is focusing on the developer this year, Duimovich told attendees, by sending 28 "engineers of all ranks" to present 28 talks, and limiting the marketing team to...one. (He had the guy wave from the audience.)

"Our developers are taking over the show for the week," Duimovich said.

Duimovich, who has trod the keynote stage at JavaOne for several years in a row and is IBM's go-to guy on Java, has some specific ideas about why the developer's star is rising. The title of his talk offers a clue: "Java Flies in Blue Skies and Open Clouds."

"This is a great time to be a developer," he said. "You've got languages, frameworks, tools, new things like social coding. These are all things developers need to develop great applications." But even more important, they have the cloud and platform-as-a-service (PaaS), which gives developers a way to take their good ideas, pack them up, test them, and deploy them worldwide, sometimes within a day. "This is how cloud is changing the landscape for developers," he added.

He also argued that Java is at the center of this developer ascension, because devs are choosing Java over other languages to deploy to the cloud. They're also choosing JavaScript, he said, which is why there's so much talk about "polyglot" developers. But it's clear to Duimovich that cloud developers are going to be using Java.

After a brief struggle with his slideware, Duimovich offered attendees the results of a Forrsights Developer Survey of enterprise software developers in Q1 2013 to support his claim. Survey respondents answered the question, "How do you allocate the time you spend writing code across the following programming languages?" Java lead among those deploying to the cloud, but with only 17 percent. HTML/CSS/JavaScript came in at 16 percent; C# and C++ at 11 percent; and Visual Basic .NET at 5 percent.

IBM will continue to invest more in Java, he said, as well as JavaScript -- in fact in a range of open technologies, from OpenJDK to OSGi, because they make developers successful. ("Often on our hardware," he admitted, "but successful.)

"These are things that we invest in to make a better stack for developers," he said.

Duimovich offered a big list of open technologies in which IBM currently invests, including two new cloud-based technologies: OpenStack and Cloud Foundry, new ecosystems around the open cloud, which is the next "really big thing that's going to happen for developers."

OpenStack is made up of several interrelated projects focused on delivering various components for a cloud infrastructure solution. As the community Web site describes it, the project aims to deliver "solutions for all types of clouds by being simple to implement, massively scalable, and feature rich." More than 180 companies participate in the OpenStack project, including AMD, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, HP, Intel and Microsoft.

Cloud Foundry is one of the first open PaaS offerings. Earlier this month, IBM announced that it would be contributing its WebSphere Liberty Buildpacks to the platform. Buildpacks, which lie at the core of Cloud Foundry, are the build-time adapters originally introduced by Heroku via Cedar, a general-purpose stack with no native language support. The IBM version started from a fork of the Cloud Foundry Java Buildpack code.  

The IBM WebSphere Liberty Buildpack is a lightweight container for Java apps, available now for download. Although it's essentially a servlet container, Duimovich argues that it's more like a Java EE Web Profile. It's integrated with Eclipse tools and it's freely available to developers.

Duimovich also talked about "systems of engagement," a new type of app he described as user-centric and specifically targeted to support user workflow. These apps, which are typically mobile, bridge systems of record, social networks, and big data. And it's the cloud that makes them possible, he said.

IBM began experimenting with systems of engagement in June with BlueMix, an open cloud PaaS based on Cloud Foundry.

And it wouldn't be an IBM presentation without some hardware specs, which Duimovich had in abundance. But it wouldn't be the WatersWorks blog if I wrote about hardware. 

Duimovich wrapped his presentation with a challenge to the assembled Java jocks.

"Java isn't done," he said. "Developers rule the world, but you've still got big challenges." Among those challenges: refining the cloud and virtualization; better management of "big everything," from big data to more threads and memory; the critical connection between software and security; and a continued focus on compatibility with a drive toward innovation.

As Duimovich pointed out, IBMers are leading several talks at this year's show. On Monday, IBM Fellow Rod Smith is speaking on cloud computing, and chief architect of IBM's Mobile First Platform group Greg Truty is speaking on the effect of mobile on enterprise developers. Keep an eye out for more.

And if you see Duimovich, tell him what you think of Java. He wants you to.

Posted by John K. Waters on September 23, 2013