Saturday, July 31, 2010

Why JeAS?

I've been saying for a while that the last thing the industry needs is a return the days of vendor lock-in or somehow resetting the clock on the past 40+ years of middleware and rediscovering it all again. That's why I believe we have to leverage what we've got. Yes, it needs to morph and evolve, but we should start using (reusing) existing investments. Furthermore, I believe that if the ideals behind Cloud are to be realised then they must start by tackling existing workloads.

This is why the application server (no formal definition in this article) is the right vehicle for applications. It doesn't matter whether you just consider this to be Tomcat or your favourite application server (JBoss, of course!), whatever is hosting your important applications today and which your developers are comfortable with, that's the basis of your own PaaS requirements. Therefore, that has to be the basis for PaaS wherever you may want to deploy in the future. But even today you often find that your application server may be providing more functionality than you need, at least initially. Just considering Java Enterprise Edition for a moment, that's one of the reasons behind the introduction of profiles (which always reminded me of the Core Services Framework Bluestone/HP pushed back in 2000, driven by my friend and co-author Jon Maron).

So this is where I come from when I mention Just Enough Application Server: when deploying into a PaaS you really need support from your underlying application server to ensure that just enough is deployed and no more. Ideally this should be done automatically as your appliance is generated, but static is OK too. Throw in a bit of autonomous monitoring and management in case things change on the fly (application and object migration is a distinct possibility, so the underlying infrastructure/application server needs to be able to cope), and you've got yourself one super sleek PaaS.


First there was JeOS, which makes sense for IaaS. So what's the equivalent for PaaS? Well I reckon it's Just Enough Application Server (JeAS perhaps?) More on this subject soon!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Has Java reached a point of inflection?

I've been wondering about this for a while. As far as languages go, Java has experienced a good run, remaining in the number 1 or 2 spot for the better part of a decade. The language came along as the Web was really growing from its fairly basic roots as it's arguable that Java influenced the development of it more than many languages. It certainly took over from the likes of Pascal and C/C++ in universities and as a result most new software developers have more than a passing knowledge of the language. Of course it's never been a perfect language (I'm not sure such a thing will ever exist, except for very domain-specific languages); it's also never been my favourite language (C++ still holds that position.) However, I think that Java has had an overall positive affect on the industry.

The Java platform (formerly known as J2EE) took a few years to emerge after the first releases of Java (aka Oak) and initially competed with CORBA in the non-Microsoft camp. Once it was clear that J2EE would dominate, CORBA tried to embrace it more closely (the CORBA Component Model, for instance) but was never quite the force it once was. However, J2EE wasn't perfect and a lot of that could be traced to its CORBA roots. It wasn't really until EE5 and EE6 that it managed to escape those shackles, but even despite those problems it dominated the industry. Of course it's precisely because of some of these issues that frameworks such as Spring sprang (!) up, but even then a lot of those deployments ran on J2EE to simplify development.

During its life Sun was a pretty good custodian of the language and the platform. Yes there were issues, particularly when Sun moved from being a neutral party to one that competed in the vendor landscape. But when you think about how one other company in a similar position handled a similar position in the 80's and 90's, things could have been a lot less open. In fact I'm certain that the success of both the language and the platform is due in no small part to this relative openness that Sun managed to juggle, despite their conflicts of interest. Towards the end of their life as an independent company, with the likes of the Apache License issue, it was obvious that Sun couldn't quite make the necessary leap that was/is required to continue the dominance of the language/platform (and you could argue to revitalize it).

And of course that brings us to the present and Oracle. If Java was at a point of inflection prior to their acquisition of Sun, it continues to be there today many months afterwards. Myself and others have argued that this is a good opportunity for Oracle to "do the right thing" and make good on their previous statements in that regard. To continue without such change risks pushing us over that tipping point, with fragmentation, vendor specific options and the end of the world as we know it. (OK, that last point is unlikely to happen!) As I've been saying around Cloud, we really shouldn't be looking at turning back the clock: it won't do anyone, including Oracle, any good.

Now maybe Oracle are considering making some positive announcements at the forthcoming JavaOne. I hope so. Continuing to make Java open and fast moving will benefit everyone, customers and vendors alike. And hopefully Oracle can make the leap that Sun never seemed to be able to make. What's that they say about Nixon and China?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Red Hat/Newcastle University research day

Just back from the first official research day with Newcastle University and it was good. We covered a lot of short and long term research areas, including fault tolerance, scalability, event processing and policy definition/management. It all had a very heavy practical slant to it, which is event better given that we're hoping to see a lot of this come through into various JBoss/Red Hat projects and products eventually. All in all it was a good day and hopefully next time we'll take a couple of days so we can delve into things in much more detail. But for now I've got to go through my notes and start working on getting these R&D efforts underway!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

JUDCon Europe 2010

I've mentioned JUDCon before, and it's only been a couple of weeks since we had the very first event in Boston, which went very well. However, no time to relax since it was always our intention to have a couple of these a year and it's surprising how much lead time you need to make it happen. So we've decided on the dates and location for the European event: 7th and 8th of October in Berlin. Next up is figuring out the themes for the tracks and then we'll open up the call for presentations.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Cloud-TM project

We're involved with a new EU Research project called Cloud-TM. Should be some good opportunities for long term research and development, whilst at the same time having strong industrial relevance. I'm looking forward to the kick-off meeting next week in Portugal!