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SE/EE: Java Technology Has Come A Long Way, The Future Looks Bright
For more, go to the Micro Edition (Java ME) Executive Committee section.
By John Bacon

The celebrations that marked the tenth anniversary of Java technology have wrapped up, but the successes of the Java Community Process (JCP) Program and the Executive Committees (EC) that guide it keep on coming. In interviews conducted shortly after the JCP EC elections of December 2005 the newly elected and ratified members of the Micro Edition (ME) and Standard/Enterprise Edition (SE/EE) ECs shared their thoughts about Java technology's evolution and its future. They are unanimous in their belief that the technology has come a long way and the combination of teamwork and hard work will continue to make its future bright. Check out their views.
SE/EE Executive Committee – Ratified Members

SAS, Rich Main
SAS provides a new generation of business intelligence software and services that create enterprise intelligence. SAS solutions are used at about 40,000 sites - including 96 of the top 100 companies on the FORTUNE Global 500. As a Java platform consumer rather than a platform provider, SAS understands the challenges and opportunities related to deploying end-user Java applications in large-scale, enterprise environments. At SAS, representative Rich Main says the most important issue facing the executive committee is increasing the transparency of the JCP program. "Developers are the life blood of the community and information is the life blood of developer," Main says. The EC's job is to ensure that information is being provided in a timely manner so that developers can best influence and leverage the Java standards. So the JSR expert groups must operate in as open a manner as possible, providing frequent status updates and engage the community for input early and often.
Main says the most important technology now being considered in the JCP program is the Java module system (JSR 277). This JSR goes very deep, affecting the basic classloading semantics of Java. "It will have significant ramifications for the Java platform and potentially even the Java language itself," Main says. "In addition, it proposes to solve difficult problems regarding the deployment of Java solutions and ongoing provisioning of updates and maintenance to those solutions." The JCP program must react to the accelerated rate of change in the software world by streamlining the standards process and ensuring that the efforts are relevant to the needs of the community, Main says. He says it is essential that strategies are designed to strengthen the "community" aspect of the Java Community Process. "Like with software development, there is a "build vs. buy" decision that must be made for each standards effort as well as a consideration of whether or not a particular effort is even worth the time and energy," Main says. "In the past, the JCP has been of the mindset that we should "let a thousand flowers bloom". But, every good gardener knows that you will get better overall production by prudently thinning the crop along the way."

BEA Systems, Ed Cobb
BEA Systems is a leading application infrastructure provider and major innovator in the Java technology marketplace. BEA's representative, Ed Cobb, oversees BEA's participation in a variety of standards and open source organizations and is responsible for BEA's involvement in technical collaborations with other software companies. Cobb notes that he joined the company ten years ago. Today he is most amazed at Java technology's "transition from a client technology to the standard for new server-side development on the Internet.". He thinks that Java’s success is predicated on well-defined standards creating a larger marketplace and enhanced competition. "The JCP is still an important source of those standards," Cobb says.
BEA has been a diligent voter in progressing new JSRs through the process and a significant contributor to improvements in both the Java Specification Participation Agreement (JSPA) and the JCP program process document, Cobb said. But he adds the most important issue now facing the committees is the increased competition from non-Java alternatives, the rise of open source and the ability of the JCP program to react to changes like these in the marketplace. In the future, he sees Metadata-driven programming and non-traditional programming language becoming more important than procedural languages like Java. "Interoperability is becoming more important to customers than portability," he says.

SAP, Michael Bechauf
As vice president of SAP NetWeaver Standards, Michael Bechauf is responsible for defining SAP's industry standards strategy. He currently works as part of the SAP Platform Ecosystem organization, which defines SAP's platform strategy overall. In 2001, SAP joined the JCP program. Michael coordinates all standards-related activities of the SAP Platform Ecosystem, so in 2002 he became SAP's primary representative on the SE/EE Executive Committee. Bechauf says the EC will help guide Java technology to become "the foundation for a next generation service composition platform that can rapidly deliver applications that support those business processes deemed most critical for a company."
Bechauf is dedicated to Web Services and the need to simplify the Java platform and make it better suited for business application programmers. The JCP must continue to make Java simpler and easier to use by reducing the number of technical choices that Java developers face, Bechauf said.
SE/EE Executive Committee – Elected Members

Hani Suleiman
Hani Suleiman, a self-described "keen and passionate Java developer since 1998," says openness and transparency are perhaps the biggest issues facing the JCP program. "For example, spec leads and even individual experts should not shy away from discussing their work with the community at large — provided of course this is done without violating any contracts!" says Suleiman, who serves on a number of JCP program Expert Groups, including JSR 220, JSR 244, JSR 245, JSR 250, and JSR 277. Likewise, the EC itself should be a bit more transparent to both the community at large and the Expert Groups both in terms of its mission and its activities, Suleiman says. But looking to the future, he also says he sees the process becoming more open and transparent, with far greater participation. And in terms of technology in the Java world, he sees a big push towards modularization. "The platform is constantly growing, and there is a significant push towards a more 'a la carte' approach," he said. This will probably start manifesting itself for the Java SE 7 timeline, he added. "I personally also have big hopes for Java on the desktop, an area which has received a lot of love and attention for Java SE 6," Suleiman said.
Intel, Wayne Carr
Intel is a leading supplier and innovator of microprocessors and other silicon building blocks being used in the vast array of devices and computing platforms where Java technology is being deployed. Intel representative Wayne Carr has worked on TV set-tops, video conferencing, operating systems, networking, multimedia and on advanced research in robotics -- and has been coding in Java technology since the language was introduced. Carr says that two key issues facing the EC are how to cooperate more effectively with other standards and open source organizations and how to ensure a level playing field for independent implementations of JSRs while retaining Java’s important promise of compatibility.
As an example of the issue of working with other organizations, JSR 198 and JSR 277 could be viewed as JCP program producing direct competition for ongoing work in the open source Eclipse organization, he says. "The Executive Committee needs to look into how best to coexist and cooperate with other related organizations," Carr says. Standards work best where the community can agree on a common approach for addressing areas where interoperability between competing implementations is important, he says. On the subject of independent implementations, TCKs are a valuable tool in ensuring compatibility, but often there is insufficient information about what it will cost or what conditions would be imposed to license the required TCK, Carr says. That uncertainty can discourage potential implementers (other than the Spec Lead) from working on JSRs or from producing implementations. "The JCP needs to explore ways to ensure adequate disclosure of TCK licensing terms what the licensing requirements are for implementing JCP specs, at the outset of spec development," Carr says.
The growth of Java has been phenomenal and Java is positioned for an exciting future, Carr says. "Java is taking off in phones, and in consumer electronics – for example, DVD players - we may see an explosion of the use of Java," he says. Java is strong on servers and has a whole new opportunity on the desktop in Linux, he adds. Carr also said that Sun's special role in the JCP program which effectively gives it a veto over many of the specs (language and platform specs) and over any process changes should be addressed. "As trust increases on all sides, we would expect the JCP program to move more towards a more typical standards organization structure where all members have similar rights and responsibilities," Carr said.