Red Hat’s senior director of engineering for its middleware business Mark Little has this month gone on the record detailing some of the mechanics that led to the recent release of Java EE7 Enterprise Edition. Speaking directly to Dr. Dobb's Journal, Little said that while Java EE7 was a little overdue, it represents a milestone for the entire Java ecosystem and the release signifies the start of a more aggressive and realistic release cycle for the language and hopefully for the entire Java EE platform.
"It doesn't do much good to have a language or platform that is 'just fine for now' if it is released so late that it cannot have a meaningful impact. Particularly since Java is the dominant language for enterprise computing, this release had amassed a great deal of anticipation over time," said Little.
Little insists that one of the important changes that Sun introduced a few years ago was to allow support for multiple languages on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). "In many ways, that change has made the future of the JVM more secure than the Java language; all programming languages wax and wane (just look at COBOL, Pascal, and C++). Regardless of what the next popular language is, the fact remains that some of the best middleware stack implementations today are written in Java."
Unsurprisingly then, Little points to Red Hat's JBoss stacks as "good" examples, especially the recently released JBoss Application Server 7. "The last thing we should do, even if language XYZ becomes the next flavor of the month, would be to throw these stacks away and start again. We did that with the transitions from DCE to CORBA and CORBA to J(2)EE, and not all of the time spent reimplementing was time well spent."
Red Hat probably cannot afford to do that again to its users, or to its engineers, and Little is open about that fact. The company has the runtime today, and is committed to evolving it and using it, which is why it has dedicated so much time to rearchitecting JBoss Application Server 7 so that it can form the basis of JBoss enterprise middleware, regardless of programming language or deployment, e.g., "cloud."
Looking ahead, Red Hat's Little states that, "Currently, our focus at Red Hat is on advancing Java EE7 and Java SE8, both of which will be important for establishing Java more firmly in the cloud. Fortunately, we have a lot of experience to offer these efforts, with the work we've been doing for the past few years around JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, JBoss Application Server 7, OpenShift, OSGi, Infinispan and Platform-as-a-Service, so I'm expecting that a lot of what our communities, customers, and users are accustomed to receiving from Red Hat today, will soon make their way into these standards."