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Alibaba wants to be more involved in the Java community

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November 8, 2016

Online e-commerce behemoth Alibaba is among a group of Java users seeking to shape the direction of both the language itself and the platform it runs on. Alibaba clearly wants to be part of the bigger picture and is taking the necessary steps to get there.

The Chinese company happens to be one the world’s largest users of Java, and has entered the race for its position to the ruling executive committee of the Java Community Process (JCP).

Also running for election to Java’s steering committee are various representatives of its end user groups from China, Africa and Germany.

One team, dubbed the GreenTea Java User Group (JUG) in Shanghai, was founded and sponsored by the technical staff from Alibaba.

To be sure, Martin Verburg, London JUG co-leader and jClarity chief executive, told us that such a diverse and new representation is a positive sign for a strong and growing Java ecosystem.

Additionally, it also reflects a certain desire from the executive committee to attract more interest from outside the familiar pool of big American and European firms.

"Java continues to demonstrate that it has a much broader appeal, attracting influencers from the IT community that wish to shape its future from a wide range of organizations,” asserted Verburg, who is also an executive committee candidate.

Six months ago, JCP chairman Patrick Curran called the prospect of Alibaba’s membership “a very positive step, given its leading role in China, and indeed globally”.

Curran obviously believes that if Alibaba joins, other Chinese companies and maybe from elsewhere as well might join the community.

It’s not just regional representation that Alibaba would bring. The big eCommerce company also runs Java at a massive scale and could have some new input on how to better scale Java at a much higher and global level.

CEO Jack Ma says it has identified a few areas that could be redesigned to better serve its Java needs. Ma appears to be very enthousiastic about the direction his company is headed.

Alibaba claims in its election statement to have a world-beating Java footprint with “tens of thousands of machines running Java serving insurmountable numbers of web pages and transacting Alibaba’s full spectrum of services, including the world’s largest online ecommerce marketplace.”

Areas for some changes include that ongoing issue to real-time performance-– IE: garbage collection, deployment, plus just-in-time compilation, among other problems that have been existant since at least the year 2000.

“The complex environment we are facing today is mostly a web server one, where short sessions come and go very quickly. We once again firmly believe that JVM/JDK/middleware may accommodate better by assuming certain behaviour and workload with web server characteristics. We therefore think that joining the committee will help us express that,” Alibaba said.

Aside from Green Tea, there is also iJUG, a group of about thirty user groups in Germany, Austria and Switzerland founded seven years ago.

iJUG wants the JCP to be more open and democratic. This includes taking action on JSRs, should the specification leads go missing in any way. Not that they should, but you never know.

That in itself should be viewed as a response of some sorts to the fact that Oracle’s JSR leads stopped working on Java EE earlier this year to better concentrate on the development of the vendor’s cloud instead.

Oracle's decision to do that didn't surprise most people, and is now a key fact that has seen Java EE 8 delayed. So is life at the 'Ellison Foundry'.

Also in the running are representatives of the Morocco JUG for the associate seat... The JCP consists of twenty members but it’s still the executive committee that guides the development of Java.

It also approves and votes on most technology proposals, in addition to setting the JCP’s rules and representing the various interests of the broader JCP community.

The executive committee consists of sixteen ratified seats, 6 elected seats and 2 newly created associate seats, with Oracle holding a permanent position.

The executive committee ballot closes on November 14 with the results announced the next day. We'll keep you posted.

Source: Alibaba.


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