Why I'm Worried About Java's Future

Java's future is on my mind lately. Oracle's new ownership of Java prompts a series of "what will Larry do" questions. But more to the point, the research Mike Gualtieri and I have been doing on massively scaled systems makes me worry that Java technology has fallen behind the times.

This is not a "Java is dead" commentary but rather a discussion of issues as I see them. Java technology is alive and vitally important; we all must be concerned if its future direction isn't clear.

For me, Java's 2-gigabyte-per-JVM memory limitation symbolizes this gap. Volumes of application data are rising, but standard Java platforms still have a practical limitation of 2 GB of memory. I spoke with one customer that incorporates a search process into its app that alone requires 20 GB of memory. This customer employs servers with 6 GB of memory each but can only use this memory in 2 GB chunks, each chunk managed by a JVM in a scale-out architecture.

We've done pretty well with 2 GB JVMs until now. But as data volumes grow, this company (and others) are no longer well served by scale-out JVM architectures. Java technology should give shops the choice of scaling up the memory within an individual JVM as well. Why?

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Ask Rymer: Let's Figure Out How Apps Are Changing

Monday, May 17: I'm on my way to SAP's SapphireNow to figure out where the world's largest enterprise vendor is taking its customers after buying Sybase. Is SAP's future mobile apps? Newfangled "in-memory" architectures? Cloud-based apps? Or is SAP just grabbing a database to compete with Oracle's?

I know you've got questions too about the future of enterprise applications -- and not just about SAP's direction. I've had many discussions with individual Forrester clients about the future of applications over the years, but never with everyone. Now, OutSystems and I have come up with a new use of social media to open the doors on a worldwide Q&A on the future of applications.  Visit What's the Future of Applications? Ask Rymer for details.

We call it "social consulting."  Here is how it works: 

1. During the next week, visit the "Ask Rymer" site and post your biggest, baddest questions about the future of applications. We've got to account for change agents ranging from the Apple iPad to Smart Computing approaches to cloud computing to Lean Software to understand the future of applications. And we've got to continue our progress toward software that is designed for people and built for continuous change.

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Platform-As-A-Service, Chapter 2

Platform-as-a-service -- application development platforms running in clouds -- are entering a new phase of evolution, and not a moment too soon. I've become interested in a new set of products I'm calling "adaptive PaaS" (for lack of a better term) that I think will make the benefits of cloud computing available to a lot more development shops. I'm doing a webinar on this topic May 20th with Appistry's Sam Charrington. I hope you can join the discussion.

As I described in my early reports on PaaS, these products include full development tooling, runtime services, and administration and management tools. While complete, most of these "full PaaS" products are best for new applications, and they incorporate much proprietary technology. Consequence: Many if not most clients are still saying "no" to PaaS for two reasons.

  1. Lock-in: PaaS products lock up your code in a single provider's environment.
  2. Poor fit: Too many PaaS products just aren't strong for core business applications, particularly for rehosting existing applications.

These limitations often prompt developers who want the flexibility of cloud computing to use IaaS platforms like Amazon EC2 instead of PaaS. With IaaS, developers can code in the language and frameworks they choose, reducing lock-in and ensuring a good platform-application fit. As a result, while we see both interest and adoption of software-as-a-service (full applications) and infrastructure-as-a-service (virtual servers, storage, and networks), PaaS is lagging in adoption.

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Future App Servers -- Radically Different

I was lucky enough last week [22 March 2010] to moderate a panel at EclipseCon on the future of application servers. The panelists did a great job, but I thought were far too conservative in their views. I agree with them that many customers want evolutionary change from today to future app servers, but I see requirements driving app servers toward radical change. Inevitably.

The changes I see:

 

Requirement

Response

Get more value from servers, get responsive, get agile and flexible

Virtualized everything, dynamic provisioning, automated change management

Govern rising application stack complexity

Lean, fit to purpose app servers, profiles and other standard configurations, modeling and metadata-based development and deployment

Provide “Internet scale”

Scale-out app servers, data tiers, network capacity, modular/layered designs, stateless architectures

 

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SAP Middleware Directions: More Open Source, In-Memory Stuff

At the 15 March press and analyst Q&A by SAP co-CEOs Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott, new middleware boss Vishal Sikka shed more light on the company's intentions for NetWeaver. Many of SAP's business applications customers use NetWeaver, both as a foundation for SAP's applications and to extend those applications using integration, portals, and custom developed apps. For about a year, the question has been how much additional investment SAP will put into NetWeaver.

Sikka made two comments that indicate how he's thinking about the NetWeaver portfolio.

1. In response to my question about whether SAP is concerned that Oracle's ownership of Java will put it at a disadvantage, Sikka started by highlighting SAP's work on Java performance, but then noted the availability of good open-source Java software to support the requirements of SAP customers.

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Progress Software’s Coming Out Party

We all need to revisit our understanding of Progress Software. On March 4, I was introduced to the “new and improved” Progress at the company’s annual briefing for industry and financial analysts. The company is a new enterprise software vendor with 25 years of experience. If you know about Progress, it is likely through an ISV solution based on the OpenEdge database/4GL. Or perhaps through the Sonic enterprise service bus ... or the Actional SOA management product.

How you should think about Progress Software now (see Figure):

First, Progress Software has a new mission, which it calls“operational responsiveness.” To achieve this mission, Progress will primarily seek to help enterprises develop real-time, event-based architectures that extend existing systems. Real-time, event-based systems let companies see what’s going on in their business processes at any given moment, and to act while transactions and interactions are in flight to fix problems, ensure compliance, add revenue opportunities, and/or cut costs. Example scenarios:

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Oracle Likes Cloud Computing After All

Larry Ellison angrily dismisses suggestions that Oracle’s business will be harmed by the rise of cloud computing. Many misinterpret Ellison’s remarks to mean he (and by extension Oracle) thinks cloud computing is a dumb idea that Oracle won’t pursue. We are now learning that Oracle does, in fact, intend to pursue cloud computing. But we're also learning that Oracle's strategy is more limited than those of IBM and Microsoft, its large-vendor competitors.

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Blogs and My Research Lifecycle

I’m soon getting a new tool for my work as an industry analyst: A Forrester blog. Before diving into my new blog, I think I should define its role in my work, and get your comments and suggestions.

My Forrester blog is a new part of my research lifecycle (depicted below). I’ve been pursuing some form of this research lifecycle for over 15 years.

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Peace, love, and the IBM System 360s

"Our vision for 2010 is the same as IBM's for the year 1960." So said Oracle's Larry Ellison from the stage at today's event to celebrate his company's acquisition of Sun Microsystems. With Sun in hand, Oracle will now take us back to the simple virtues of mainframes 50 years ago. Updated, these virtues are:

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Progress Software Builds Its Position An Enterprise Platform Provider

With its acquisition of BPM-software leader Savvion, Progress Software has taken a step closer to providing a full line of enterprise middleware. Progress has operated as a supermarket of middleware brands addressing mostly specialized needs, but now is creating broader enterprise application platforms out of its separate middleware brands [Figure 1.].

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