Greasing the wheels

Exploring the future of the JVM at JavaOne

Lucy Carey
engine2

JVM architect Mikael Vidstedt outlines the latest developments and pulls no punches in admitting security setbacks.

When Sun Microsystems was
acquired by Oracle three years ago, to say that the Java Virtual
Machine (JVM) ecosystem was overgrown was to put it mildly. As Java
Platform Group JVM architect, Mikael Vidstedt found himself faced
with the unenviable task of pruning down seven JVMs down into a
more manageable entity.

He’s been coordinating Oracle’s technical vision
for the JVM ever since, and after a year that’s been eventful for
mostly all the wrong reasons, faced up to a JavaOne audience with
plenty of questions for where the virtual machine can go
next.

This time last year, Vidstedt was content with
Oracle’s progress. As far as he was concerned, JVM convergence was
a mission accomplished – with Java Flight Recorder and Mission
Control incorporated, and Permgen purged, and everything else
ticking over nicely. Then wave after wave of

security issues
came to light – most of
which Oracle would rather not mention in their triumphant keynote
speech, thank you very much.

Even though the issue wasn’t addressed by the
big guns, and swiftly batted down in the Java media panel, Vidstedt
readily acknowledged the many problems that Oracle has faced over
the past year due to vulnerabilities in Java – pointing out that
the sum of these problems was very much demonstrable by the fact
that this year’s event has its own dedicated security track.
 

With this in mind, security will apparently
remain a key focus area for future JVM projects. But that’s not the
only big issue. As Vidsedt noted, from now on, with cloud computing
here for good, situations where many, many JVMs are running
(almost) the same application will become the norm. The focus will
be on how best to share resources across machines, and sound
distribution management will be critical.

Understandably, lambdas are a hot topic at
JavaOne this year, and Vidstedt was keen to emphasise their benefit
to future JVM developments. Oracle has invested literally centuries
of man hours grappling with the issue of how to make non-Java
languages run efficiently on the JVM. With the

invokedynamic
instruction addition to Java
seven, real progress has been, but there is still considerable work
to do. Going forward, lambdas will be key pivots for a language
blind JVM.

In terms of serviceability, Java Flight Recorder
(
re-released
earlier this month
) continues to be a work in
progress. The most exciting development in this area is the
addition of automated data analysis in Java Mission Control,
drawing analysis from events, and coming to high level
conclusions.

Photo by William
Warby
.

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