Oracle tries playing nice with Java EE rebels

Oracle tries playing nice with Java EE rebels

With Oracle now trying to get back on track with advancing enterprise Java, the company is seeking rapprochement with factions that had sought to advance the platform on their own. The two groups involved are mostly amenable to patching up the relationship.

Oracle's Anil Gaur, group vice president of engineering, said this week he had already been in touch with some of the concerned parties. The two factions include Java EE Guardians, led by former Oracle Java EE evangelist Reza Rahman, and Microprofile.io, which has included participation from Red Hat and IBM.

Microprofile.io even has set out to develop its own profile for microservices in enterprise Java. Gaur said he sees the Microprofile efforts as complementary to what Oracle is doing. "I would like to see somehow them bringing back what they're learning to the Java EE platform," he said

Oracle sees Java EE Guardians one of several Java user groups and communities around the world that the company has worked with. Gaue expressed a desire to "join forces" with Java EE Guardians to help shape the future of Java EE.

Both Microprofile.io and Java EE Guardians arose due to the perception that Oracle was neglecting Java EE. In response, Oracle revealed intentions to refit EE for cloud computing and microservices. The company further detailed its plans this week at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco, involving the upcoming releases of Java EE 8 and EE 9.

At Microprofile.io, Red Hat's Rich Sharples was pleased with what Oracle has in mind for Java EE, for the most part. "We -- Red Hat -- think that the EE 8 definition is fine. Pretty much what we were hoping for," he said. "EE 9 looks way too ambitious and is probably unrealistic. We'll see."

Red Hat and others from Microprofile continue to talk to Oracle about ultimate alignment, with the main contention not about technical vision but about the process to get there, Sharples said. "We don't think the JCP [Java Community Process] has kept up with the times -- moves too slowly, not open enough -- and puts too much dependence on Oracle."

Java EE Guardians, however, is still standing by the JCP. "The Java EE Guardians already has and will continue to constructively engage Oracle through the JCP," Rahman said. "Our principal focus in the next few weeks is to help get the word out on Oracle's Java EE 8 and 9 survey [at] glassfish.org."

Oracle's Java EE proposal "seems by and large on the mark, but we should wait for the survey results to see what the community really needs," said Rahman. "For the same reasons, it's very premature to comment on the quality of the preliminary ideas presented on Java EE 9. It may be that many of the ideas in Java EE 9 are not ready for standardization, though some clearly are."

Suggestions to drop Java Message Service (JMS) 2.1 and MVC in Java EE 8 might dissatisfy some members of the community, according to Rahman. Oracle wants to roll back to JMS 2.0 while work would stop on the MVC Java Specification Request. "As has always been the case, the Java EE Guardians may choose to try to ask for specification ownership transfer on these bodies of work or progress work on these and other fronts outside the JCP in pure open source," said Rahman.

Gaur said he did not view what has been happening with Java EE, with groups splintering off on their own, as a fork of the platform. Neither Java EE Guardians nor Microprofile.io has viewed the situation as a fork, either. Companies like Red Hat and IBM have developed Java technologies on their own and brought them back to the platform: Red Had built Contexts and Dependency Injection (CDI) Bean Validation, while IBM built batch capabilities.

Oracle's plan involves two major upgrades to EE developed in parallel. Java EE 8 is due in late 2017, followed a year later by version 9. Asked if having these two upgrades occur in one year was too ambitious, Gaur stressed a need to stay abreast with fast-changing technology. "If you look at the cloud world, things move very, very fast. So we need to keep up the pace. Otherwise we become irrelevant."

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