When the JavaOne conference kicks off on Monday in San Francisco, much of the discussion will center around how the former rock star technology plans to settle down and join a band.
Not so long ago a developer could live comfortably within an entire Java world, but service-oriented architecture is rapidly changing that. SOA marks a macro approach to IT that, while it may lean heavily on Java in some cases, demands a developer expand his or her horizons.
"It's forcing Java people to broaden their minds, which is good," said ZapThink analyst Ron Schmelzer. "They're coming to understand Java is only part of a complete nutritious breakfast."
The conference marks the 10th anniversary of Java's release. Sun Microsystems Inc. birthed the baby and built a thriving development community around it. Over the years, it has migrated from primarily a presentation layer technology to a server technology.
Joe Keller, Sun's vice president of marketing for Java Web services and tools, proudly boasts that more than 4.5 million developers are using Java, generating more than $100 billion in business worldwide, but he recognizes that the Java market has hit "an inflection point."
"We think standards in the integration world will be the flash point for SOA development," Keller said. "Standardization is the only way forward."
Earlier this week the Java Community Process approved the new Java Business Integration standard with notable abstentions from middleware heavyweights IBM and BEA Systems Inc., which categorize JBI as an incomplete, insufficient and immature effort.
Keller said he believes Java will prove itself capable and critical in integration just as it did in the application server market, where it also faced a fair amount of skepticism.
"These criticisms are just ways to put off the inevitable, because over time standards win in the network," Keller said. He confirmed that Sun will be making a major JBI announcement during JavaOne.
John Andrews, chief operating officer of the Evans Analytical Group, stressed that JBI faces a difficult task in proving itself ready for SOA integration, but that it's an area where the programming language must succeed.
"That's a point and a direction that Java has to move [in]," he said.
Meanwhile, at JavaOne next week, Sun also plans to release the full details of its open source Java Runtime Environment, code named GlassFish. That initiative has taken some knocks in the Java community amid suspicion that it will only be made available for open viewing and not open participation.
Schmelzer said Sun needs to prove itself in the middleware space. While it's been a major player as a technology contributor in the space, it still makes most of its money off of its hardware business, such as Unix and storage.
"Sun has to innovate beyond the commodity level," he said. "It needs to go somewhere no one else has gone."