Goodbye, Java Enterprise Edition. Hello, Jakarta EE
April 30, 2018 Alex Woodie
Developers who use Java Enterprise Edition will be happy to know that the development and runtime platform is gaining new life as Jakarta EE. As part of an agreement with Oracle, the tech giant will give up control over the platform to Eclipse Foundation, which has big plans to remake enterprise Java for the emerging cloud world.
Since it bought Sun Microsystems back in 2010, Oracle has been fully in charge of Java. That includes defining not just the core Java language, but having a big hand in everything else governed through the Java Community Process (JCP), including the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), the Standard Edition (JSE) runtime, and the Java Enterprise Edition (JEE) platform, which provided enterprise-level capabilities for running Java applications at scale, including use of web services and distributed execution of code.
In the early 2000s, prior to the Sun acquisition, the pace of innovation was heavy, as Java and JEE spread throughout corporate America and the entire world. Under the J2EE moniker, companies readily adopted a variety of Java Service Requests (JSRs), or JEE specifications, delivered under the Enterprise Edition umbrella. That included JSRs like Java servlets, Java ServerPages (JSP), Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs), Java ServerFaces (JSF) J2EE Connector Architecture (JCA), the Java Persistence API (JPA) and the Java Message Service (JMS), among others.
However, over the past few years, the excitement over JEE has waned and the pace of change has slowed considerably. In the fall of 2017, Oracle decided that it had had enough and, at the urging of a group of vendors that included IBM, Red Hat, and others, it agreed to relinquish control of Java EE to the Eclipse Foundation, which is the driving force behind the Java-based integrated development environment (IDE) of the same name.
Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, says the move is all about breathing new life into the Java Enterprise Edition platform.
“Under Oracle, it was Oracle people who were defining the architecture and deciding what was going to be in the release, and doing by far the bulk of the effort in driving the specs forward and driving the reference implementation forward,” Milinkovich tells IT Jungle. “That’s what this is about: Picking up the pace of communication, listening to the community about what they want us to build, and having for the first time in a number of years the adequate resources to actually move forward on executing this. That’s to a large degree what this is about.”
Getting the enterprise Java ball out of Oracle’s hands should help align incentives for the other tech vendors working in the enterprise Java realm. “In the previous world, Oracle was paying the paychecks for virtually everybody involved with setting the platform,” Milinkovich says. “Now it’s a much more diverse set of paymasters, if you want to use that analogy, for who’s acutely investing their development resources into the platform.”
The first order of business at the Eclipse Foundation was to choose a new name, and after a vote of 7,000 people, the name Jakarta EE was selected. But don’t be fooled into you thinking that “EE” stands for “Enterprise Edition,” Milinkovich says. “The EE doesn’t actually stand for Enterprise Edition. It actually doesn’t stand for anything at all,” he says. “It’s just part of the brand.”
Whatever the name, Jakarta EE’s connection to JEE and the full Java stack is clear. Jakarta EE will continue to run on top of JSE. It will continue to adhere to the JCP for specifications and it will continue to be developed as an open Java Development Kit (JDK).
One thing that will change is that the Eclipse Foundation will create an entirely new specification process for Jakarta EE, Milinkovich says. The new spec process will be the vehicle through which the community decides where to take Jakarta EE next. “It’s going to be a much more of a collaborative and joint effort as opposed to a single vendor exercise,” he says.
The Eclipse Foundation recently conducted a survey to see where the Jakarta EE community (nee J2EE community) wants the technology to go. According to the Jakarta EE Developer Survey 2018, the three most critical areas cited for improvement were better support for microservices, native integration with container technology like Kubernetes and Docker, and a faster pace of innovation.
While new specs haven’t been set in stone, it’s clear what direction the JEE community wants to see Jakarta EE going. Historically, JEE was traditionally implemented on-premise, but the paramount importance of supporting emerging cloud paradigms came through loud and clear in the survey.
“You have a situation where 1,000 of the Fortune 1,000 use this technology for running their business today,” Milinkovich says. “If we can provide them with a migration path from what they have today to micro-services architecture and the cloud-native capability of their next-generation applications — that’s going to help them make the switch a lot faster.”
It’s all about protecting the investment they’ve made not just in enterprise Java applications, but in enterprise Java developers, Milinkovich says. “Today there are millions of developers who know Java EE,” he says. “There a lot of people who are very passionate about this technology, and if we can give them a platform by which they can bring their skills forward and allow them to build applications using these new architectures with the skills they have . . . then that’s going to be a real benefit to those developers.”
As founding members of the Jakarta EE Working Group, Oracle, IBM, Red Hat, Fujitsu, Lightbend, Payara Systems, Pivotal, Tomitribe, and Webtide will have influence over the direction of this technology. But the Eclipse Foundation wants to encourage the entire Java community to get behind Jakarta EE.
“If you think about the fact that pretty much all the enterprise have large investment in this technology platform and now have an opportunity to participate with the vendors and community in shaping its evolution, we think that that’s a fantastic value proposition for those enterprises,” Milinkovich says. “We’re going to be doing everything we can to recruit those companies to not just become members and engage with the governance of these projects, and help implement the roadmap and share the future, but learning it’s in their best interest and their staff and developers to actually put people into the open source projects and really engage at the project-level in driving these technologies forward.”