Red Hat’s CEO Jim Whitehurst kicked off his third year at Red Hat with a State of the Union address.  In his post, Jim discussed Red Hat’s efforts within the Java community:

“Late last year the Java Community Process (JCP) reached a significant milestone when they approved the specification for the next generation of Enterprise Java; JavaTM Platform, Enterprise Edition 6 (Java EE 6). We believe that the approval of this specification starts a new chapter in the story of Java and we are proud to have contributed and acted in a leadership role in the formation of this standard which aims to make enterprise Java easier to use and more appealing to more developers, while still maintaining the benefits of open standards.”

Craig Muzilla, Vice President of Middleware at Red Hat picked up on the Java thread and wrote a nice post ahead of Oracle’s roadmap presentation on Wednesday.  While many will be following Apple’s every move on Wednesday, those of us in the Java community will be listening to Oracle’s plans for Sun products, including Java.

“As Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison said shortly after the acquisition announcement  in April of last year, Java is “the single most important software asset we have ever acquired.”

We agree with Mr. Ellison’s statement; Java is one of the most important technologies developed and adopted during the past twenty years. It has fostered significant innovation throughout the IT industry and has enabled businesses and governments to operate with greater efficiency and effectiveness. Java is larger than any single company; we are all part of Java, customers and vendors alike.

We encourage Oracle to fulfill their original proposal and establish an independent governance process for the JCP (Java Community Process). And, finally, we encourage Oracle to continue the tradition of making the technology easily accessible, to vendors and customers alike, to secure its broad adoption and continued strength in the market.”

Craig points out that Oracle was amongst several vendors, including IBM and Red Hat, calling for Sun to make the Java process more open and less susceptible to any one vendor’s influence or control.  While I’d be surprised if Oracle announced an independent governance process for the JCP on Wednesday, I don’t think Oracle will act to damage the Java ecosystem.  Customers and developers have invested too much in Java products over the past decade on the basis of their investment being protected through a multi-vendor community.  The customer backlash would far outstrip any perceived competitive benefit of tightening control over the JCP.  Oracle’s far too smart of a vendor to risk that or encourage non-standard Java usage as we’ve seen with Android.

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PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

Terracotta, an open source Java caching vendor, announced it has acquired EHCache earlier this week.  This is interesting for two reasons.  No, it’s not because I thought EHCache was a Canadian company because of the “Eh” in their name.

EHCache provides an alternative approach to Java caching than Terracotta’s approach.  While Terracotta’s approach can be at the JVM layer without application changes, the EHCache approach requires the application be modified with caching in mind.  Terracotta founder and CTO, Ari Zilka, explains the benefits of the combined company:

“Terracotta’s interface in more than 50% of use cases has been EHCache. Basically, developers design applications to use EHCache and use Terracotta’s EHCache clustering module to get massive scale and high availability at runtime.

The two together will provide the most seamless path from 1 node up to 100. Instead of having to worry about which version of EHCache Terracotta supports, or if your EHCache integration will work well with Terracotta, EHCache’s and Terracotta’s users alike can rest assured the two will always work in perfect harmony from today forward.”

The second interesting aspect of this acquisition, and not mentioned by Ari, the combined company looks much more attractive to VMware/SpringSource.  IBM WebSphere eXtreme Scale Chief Architect Billy Newport had predicted that VMware would acquire Terracotta after news of the SpringSource acquisition hit the wire.  Billy may be on to something.  Terracotta can offer both an unintrusive caching solution that could be married alongside future JVM work that VMware is sure to do, and also offers a caching API that could find its way into SpringSource products. Smart move on Terracotta’s part.  Although, to be fair, this acquisition was in the works before the SpringSource acquisition was made public.

Terracotta is positioning the acquisition as a major competitive coup versus the likes of Oracle Coherence, GigaSpaces and WebSphere eXtreme Scale.  Leaders from Oracle Coherence and WebSphere eXtreme Scale had a more measured response:

Oracle Coherence’s Cameron Purdy commented:

“Competition is good, and Terracotta has a different approach that may prove to help with some needs that had gone unaddressed by products such as our own (Oracle Coherence). Greg’s got a good track record with ehcache and now he’s getting paid to do what he loves. While the competitive hyperbole is silly, I nonetheless find it flattering that we (collectively) are building technology and businesses that have gone from niche to central in enterprise software (despite all the competition, our business continues to grow at “ludicrous speed”), and I find it even more flattering that companies want to compare to and compete with the product that I work on :-)”

WebSphere eXtreme Scale’s Billy Newport commented:

I agree with Cameron, competition is good and while we’ve (from an IBM WebSphere eXtreme Scale point of view) previously only seen Terracotta on small setups (2 nodes or so), I’m sure the new capabilities (static striping etc) and that it fits into EHCache which has a lot of prewritten adapters in open source software will mean we see more of him :)  It’s all good for growing the market and increasing customer awareness. “

As Cameron and Bill point out, the acquisition is definitely goodness for customer awareness and adoption.  To date, the market has been dominated by commercial products.  However, open source vendors such as Terracotta and GridGain want to change that.  Interesting times ahead.

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PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

Dave interviewed Zend’s CEO Andi Gutmans.  I particularly found this part of the interview interesting:

Rosenberg: When you start talking about high reliability, security, and performance, it sounds like you’re working to disrupt traditional Java environments? Is my hunch correct?

Gutmans: The Java disruption by PHP is well under way.  PHP is everywhere, and Zend’s solutions are being used in business-critical deployments by companies such as Tagged, Fiat, BNP Paribas, and Fox Interactive Media, to name a few. The strategic adoption of Zend in larger accounts, often in favor of Java, is related to our strong return on investment and shorter time to market.”

To argue that PHP is disrupting Java usage is, if you ask me, missing the point.  You know something is wrong when Roy Russo is the voice of reason.  On Matt’s follow up to Dave’s post, Roy comments:

“The truth is that both PHP and Java have their place within an IT organization. The funny thing is that stories about the demise and disruption of Java still get published.”

There is an interesting discussion at Slashdot about Twitter shifting workload from Ruby on Rails over to Scala.  Readers have compared technology choices at Twitter versus Facebook. Slashdot reader mini_me writes:

“While Facebook uses PHP where Twitter uses Rails, Facebook uses a plethora of languages to make the whole system work. So Twitter really isn’t going to Scala any more than Facebook is going to Erlang. Which is the say that they use the best tool for the job, not one tool for every job.”

To be fair, the Java ecosystem made the error of recommending the Java language and platform as the right tool for every job in the past.  Today, Java infrastructure providers have shifted to offer a broader set of tools to help right-size the infrastructure to the project needs.  This will only continue.  And as it does, PHP, Groovy, Ruby, Java and several other languages will be used together to help customers drive business results.

The customers I speak with aren’t backing away from their Java investments when they ask for broader dynamic scripting language support within their enterprise application server.  Rather, they see value in using different language environments to extend the value of their Java investments.

Maybe I’m biased, but Java the language and Java the platform have little to fear from PHP or other scripting language environments.

What do you think?

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