CTO Thoughts on Google’s Android N Release And Java Industry

March 17, 2016
Serge Huber

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Since Google announced they are dropping their own custom Java implementation and run time and leveraging the open JDK effort, that means that Google and Oracle will actually be working on the same technology.

This is significant because these are major players collaborating on Java technology and they are playing at the opposite side of the spectrum - Oracle on enterprises and Google pulling in the direction of mobile devices, trying to make the JVM as lightweight as mobile terminals are required to be.

If this happens as they are announcing it, this is good for the whole Java system because Oracle has been criticized for being a little slow in the evolution of Java and has been struggling with making major changes to the platform (for example, we are still waiting on the Java Module System). But now that such a large company as Google is contributing more to the platform, the potential is there to improve the overall Java technology field.

Initially, when Google introduced Android, they had the very difficult challenge of choosing a technology platform that would behave correctly on limited devices such as smartphones. Historically, Java has been present on mobile devices but the power requirements for the run times has always been a limitation. Because of this, Google chose to implement their own run time and their own libraries to deliver a programming environment that would be similar to what the largest community of developers was already using. However, when implementing these tools, they were threatened by Oracle, in that there was claim of copyright infringements on some of the Java implementations that Google was using. Therefore, it is a very good thing for both Google and Oracle that the former chose to abandon their custom implementation and fall back to the most used Java platform in the world.

At Jahia, we have been focused on evolving the platform to a more modular and productive architecture. The introduction of OSGi was a major milestone introduced in our most recent Digital Experience Manager (DX7). We are also introducing Apache Unomi, built on Apache Karaf, which is possibly one of the most lightweight and modular run times available.

This is the focus we have had for quite some time now, in some way similar to Google’s focus, to make sure that we build systems that can be agile and flexible. I also see it as a very positive sign that two companies that were competing against each other are now working on common technology. Working with competitors is always a challenge but can be a very good way to build standards and common infrastructure.

The OASISTechnical Context Server Committee is an example of a group of competing companies agreeing to collaborate on building a standard for personalization technologies. The benefits of these joint efforts have already produced some of the most interesting things in the on-going proposal, such as the notion of a user context and user privacy management.

I really look forward to seeing the outcome of this seemingly unnoticed change but that could have huge repercussions on the Java industry. I won’t be holding my breath for any major changes but who knows?

Serge Huber
Author : Serge Huber

Serge Huber is co-founder and CTO of Jahia. He is a member of the Apache Software Foundation and Chair of the Apache Unomi project management committee as well as a co-chair of the OASIS Customer Data Platform Specification.

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Learn how here