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Eclipse Developer's Journal - The Evolution of Java

Exclusive SYS-CON.TV Interviews with Mike Milinkovich and Bill Roth

Bill Roth has had a distinguished career in Java, formerly being the JEE spec lead at Sun Microsystems where he worked on some of the early EJB specifications. In a previous life, Bill was a contributing editor to Java Developer's Journal. He maintains a lively blog and is currently vice president of the Workshop Business Unit at BEA. Bill has kindly agreed to answer some questions on BEA, Java, and all things interesting to do with the two.

JDJ: Can you tell us a little about what's going on at BEA at the moment?

Bill Roth: There is a lot going on in Java right now at BEA. First off, we are in the final stages of delivering the next generation of BEA Workshop. This will allow the construction of blended applications, the mixing of commercial source and open source. This will allow developers to take advantage of the best of both worlds, in the way they want. I call it our "Burger King" strategy, where developers can "Have it Your Way."

We're also working on an exciting new vision on how all the roles in IT can work together. This effort, WorkSpace 360, is a vision for unifying the various participants across the SOA life cycle.

WorkSpace 360 is intended to break down the communication barriers that exist between the various participants in the SOA life cycle: business analysts, architects, developers, and IT ops. It provides the ability for the various participants to share information and assets among each other in a seamless, governed manner. This is enabled through a series of tools, communication capabilities, and views tailored to the individual stakeholders. At the core of WorkSpace 360 is a centralized metadata repository that serves as a central source of record for enabling the seamless flow of information across the different stages of the SOA life cycle.

JDJ: Recently there was some ruckus in the press about BEA failing to announce third-quarter 2006, which meant a possible delisting of their stock. What happened here, and is there any long-term damage?

Roth: We are among the over 200 publicly traded companies who are reviewing their options granting practices. BEA has been, since the beginning of the investigation, working collaboratively with the SEC and the stock exchange, and we continue to keep them in the loop every step of the way as we make progress. From everything we have seen, NASDAQ has worked constructively to avoid delisting when the companies involved are working in good faith to resolve their issues and get financial statements back on file as quickly as possible. We believe we fall into this category.

JDJ: For JRockit, do you see yourself as being able to compete commercially with Sun, whose JVM is freely available?

Roth: Of course we can. Not only is JRockit freely available, but has been shown to be 24-28% faster than the leading JVM. We'll compete with Sun's JVM any day of the week.

JDJ: The app server market is becoming largely commoditized with open source projects like JBoss, Tomcat, or Geronimo. How can WebLogic compete in this space and remain relevant?

Roth: Your question is based on an erroneous assumption. While certain segments of the application server market are indeed commoditizing, saying the entire market is "largely commoditized" is overreaching. If this were the case, our WebLogic business would be shrinking, and it most certainly is not.

JDJ: Is BEA aligned very strongly to Java as a server-side programming model, or are you embracing things like PHP?

Roth: I have blogged about this in the past. While we're committed to the J2EE programming model, it's clear that developers are looking at other technologies. We have a number of projects where we're working with next-generation dynamic languages like PHP and Ruby, so we can be ready as the enterprise developers begin adopting them to build their applications.

JDJ: What do you think of Web 2.0 and all the AJAX excitement? Is this something you're tooling for and adopting in WebLogic?

Roth: AJAX is an exciting new area of great technology, but it is also an area of great chaos as well. There are way too many AJAX frameworks and no standards that are clearly emerging. Also, no one has clearly articulated a declarative, standards-based XAML-like way of defining the UI for this technology. As such, our strategy is to work with a small number of vendors in the short term to deliver value to our developers, and then keep an eye on the standardization process.

JDJ: What excites you most about what is going on with BEA at the moment?

Roth: What excites me the most about working at BEA is the pace of innovation and our plans for the next five years. When you couple the success of AquaLogic along with our vision for Workspace 360 and SOA 360, I am even more convinced than before that BEA is on the right track.

JDJ: What excites you most about what is going on with Java at the moment?

Roth: Same answer, really. The pace of innovation in the area of open source software and frameworks is really exciting. We're also seeing a shift in user requests to JSF from Struts, but it also appears that Struts 2.0 is picking up steam as well. What's truly unique is that the bulk of the innovation these days appears to be happening outside of the Java Community Process, and I view this as a good thing. The Java Community is growing organically in ways that are impossible to predict.

More Stories By Joe Winchester

Joe Winchester, Editor-in-Chief of Java Developer's Journal, was formerly JDJ's longtime Desktop Technologies Editor and is a software developer working on development tools for IBM in Hursley, UK.

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