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Red Hat Steps in to Steward OpenJDK 8 and 11

Red Hat has again stepped in to assume the stewardship of OpenJDK projects no longer supported, long-term, by Oracle. The Raleigh, N.C.-based open source solutions provider and long-time Java community leader has taken on the role of steward of OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 update releases. Red Hat will "work with the community to enable continued innovation in Java," the company said in a statement.

Red Hat assumed stewardship of OpenJDK 6 in March 2013, and OpenJDK 7 in June 2015. The company has actually been involved in the OpenJDK, which is an open source implementation of Java, since 2007, when it signed Sun Microsystems' OpenJDK Community TCK License Agreement. The TCK (Technology Compatibility Kit) is the official test suite for compliance of implementations of Java Specification Requests (JSRs); they can only be provided by the spec lead of a JSR. Red Hat was the first big software vendor to license the TCK.

Red Hat is among the largest contributors to the OpenJDK project. Long-time Java technical lead and lead technical engineer of Red Hat's Java Platform team, Andrew Haley, was appointed as project lead for OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 in February 2019. He has been an active member of the OpenJDK governing board for seven years.

In addition to its work within individual OpenJDK communities, Red Hat leads the upstream development of Shenandoah, a high-performance garbage collector that is now part of OpenJDK 12.

In December 2018, Red Hat announced commercial support for OpenJDK on Microsoft Windows. Red Hat plans to launch OpenJDK in a Microsoft installer in the coming weeks and distribute IcedTea-Web, the free software implementation of Java Web Start, as part of the Windows OpenJDK distribution. JDK Mission Control is available as part of Red Hat Software Collections and for Windows through the Red Hat Customer Portal, enabling developers and administrators to collect and analyze data from Java applications running locally or deployed in production environments.

"My guess is we can expect more news on the transition of Java stewardship over the next few years," said Ovum analyst Michael Azoff, in a statement, "and I believe Red Hat is a safe pair of hands to take on that role. It's also a better fit with Java being open source and Red Hat being a leader in the open source software community."

Rich Sharples, Red Hat's senior director of product management acknowledged frequent public doubts have been expressed about the future of Java, but rumors of its demise, he told ADTmag, have been greatly exaggerated.

"From our point of view, there's still another 20 or 30 years of life left in Java," said Rich Sharples, Red Hat's senior director of product management. "There's a very long way to go for Java, and that's why we're continuing to put our resources behind it and the community."

Red Hat recently addressed some specific concerns that Java isn't competitive in emerging cloud-native architectures, such as microservices, containers, and serverless, with its newly released Quarkus framework, which is designed to significantly reduce the footprint and latency of Java applications.

"We're still all-in on Java," Sharples said.

Sharples also noted that Oracle's new faster release cadence is giving the community of Java users additional opportunities to reconsider what they're currently running on.

"People are going to be very consciously upgrading or thinking about upgrading much more frequently," he said. "Quite frankly, if you're upgrading version numbers, you've got to also be thinking about which vendor you source the JVM from."

"Java is in a renaissance moment," Mike Piech, vice president and general manager of Red Hat's Middleware group, said in a statement. "It continues to evolve and be a key component of new, emerging architectures. There is a developer hunger to bring Java into the next generation of development, and Red Hat is a leader in this movement through our involvement in the OpenJDK project. We are helping to lead the way in our efforts to enable users of JDK to have support and innovation in their existing environments. Red Hat remains committed to Java and is excited to have the opportunity to help steward the OpenJDK community."

Posted by John K. Waters on April 24, 2019