Interview with Mike Milinkovich

Jakarta EE 9 is here: “The Jakarta EE community is now in the driver seat of further innovation”

Dominik Mohilo
Mike Milinkovich

Jakarta EE 9 has been published. We spoke with Mike Milinkovich, Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation, about what this milestone means for the Java world: What is the next step for enterprise Java and what role does open source software play in this?

JAXenter: Hi Mike and thanks for taking the time! After 3 whole years of planning, negotiating, more planning and then actually working on the Jakarta EE project, it is now finally done: The future of enterprise Java can begin. Can you wrap up the story for our audience? What happened in the past 3 years?

Mike Milinkovich: In a nutshell, Oracle contributed Java EE technologies to vendor-neutral governance at the Eclipse Foundation. Now an open source, community-driven platform, Java EE has been renamed Jakarta EE. On its face, this sounds relatively simple, the truth is that this was an incredibly complex and challenging process that was only possible with the dedication and collaboration of many different entities, contributors, and organizations. It can be easy to forget that most of the business infrastructure in the world really still runs on Java. This is an incredibly vast ecosystem with tens of millions of developers and billions of lines of code literally powering a good chunk of the global economy.

In the case of Jakarta EE 9, the Eclipse Foundation and the Jakarta EE community have taken the important and necessary step on the road to further innovation using cloud native technologies for Java by completing the transition from the use of the javax.* package namespace to jakarta.* in a well-defined, consistent and uniform manner. By doing so, the Jakarta EE 9 release gives enterprises and developers a truly open platform for developing standardized enterprise applications in Java that serve as a foundation for future innovations.

JAXenter: Jakarta EE 9 is now out and ready to use, what is in it for the users?

Mike Milinkovich: Jakarta EE 9 enables enterprise end users and enterprise software vendors to migrate from older, previous versions to newer cloud native tools, products, and platforms. Overall, Jakarta EE lowers the barrier of entry to new vendors and implementations to achieve compatibility with this new specification.

This really means that the Jakarta EE community is now in the driver seat of further innovation – With the release of Jakarta EE 9, the years-long challenging work in shifting this platform to a more open, community-governed model is complete. As a result, the Jakarta EE community is poised to drive new innovations and technical development for enterprise Java in a more bottoms-up fashion, instead of the “top down” process that was driven by the massive, complex undertaking of making the platform truly open source. This will likely result in more work on individual specifications as well, as opposed to a focus on broader platform-wide development.

As you might guess, we’re actively encouraging any enterprise that relies on enterprise Java to get involved with the Jakarta EE community. Anyone interested can get in touch and find out more here –

JAXenter: In the end the community embraced the idea of a big bang regarding the namespaces, ultimately the best option, I guess. What do you think?

Mike Milinkovich: I have always thought that this was the best approach. I’m very happy that the community rallied behind the “big bang” and made it happen. It really was the only way to ensure that the Jakarta EE community would be free to set its own path towards new innovation.

JAXenter: Now that the scene is set, the street is paved, what are the next steps for the near future?

Mike Milinkovich: Stay tuned to a very quick release of 9.1, which will focus on providing support for Java SE 11.

After that, I think the Jakarta EE community is poised to drive new innovations and technical development for enterprise Java in a more bottoms-up fashion, instead of the “top down” process that was driven by the massive, complex undertaking of making the platform truly open source. This will likely result in more work on individual specifications as well, as opposed to a focus on broader platform-wide development.

As an example, the cadence of new software releases will likely shift to a more semantic model. Instead of annual or bi-annual releases of major significance, you’ll see individual specifications get updates more quickly.

At a higher level, Jakarta EE 9 has primed the community to start building for future innovations around cloud native Java and to bring this platform fully into the world of containers and microservices.

JAXenter: And to paint a bigger picture: What are the plans for enterprise Java in 2021 and beyond?

Mike Milinkovich: First and foremost, the Java EE ecosystem is switching to Jakarta EE. The benefits are just too compelling to ignore. The support from the vendors for Jakarta EE has been fantastic, and we are expecting the ecosystem to move to the jakarta.* namespace quickly.

Second, I believe we’ll see the inexorable rise of community-supported Java binaries. With the move of AdoptOpenJDK to the Eclipse Foundation and rebirth as Eclipse Adoptium, the industry will have a single, vendor-neutral source of high-quality open source Java runtimes. Expect to see adoption accelerate as developers use the project’s high quality binaries and technologies across the Java ecosystem.

Finally, I firmly believe that developers will increasingly embrace vendor-neutral frameworks for microservices. Developers are looking past single vendor microservices frameworks in favor of vendor-neutral standards for building Java microservices. MicroProfile is a good example of this trend.

JAXenter: As the director of the Eclipse Foundation, you are one of the thought leaders regarding open source software. How healthy and thriving is OSS right now?

Mike Milinkovich: OSS is doing amazingly well and will only continue to grow in importance. I’ve said this before, but the simple fact is that the modern world runs on open source. One of the biggest reasons why open source adoption is on the rise is that it gives companies permissionless access to innovation that is continuously improved by the community.

JAXenter: What are your prognoses for OSS in the next year?

Mike Milinkovich: I believe 2021 is the year that OSS becomes front of mind for EU policy makers and industry. I believe all of Europe needs to accelerate their focus on digitalization, as we are finding ourselves caught between Asian and North American platform economy companies from a competitive standpoint. Too many European companies are delaying the start of their journey, ostensibly because of the perceived risk to their existing business model. The time is now for European companies to establish the open digital platforms of the future and participate wholeheartedly in the open innovation economy.

Second, I predict there will be more scrutiny on single vendor open source solutions. In a lot of ways, single source OSS is the new proprietary software. We’ve found that vendor neutrality is one of the most valuable aspects of OSS. Achieving that level of neutrality takes significant effort and a willingness to collaborate, but that effort ultimately benefits all of the stakeholders.

We’re also going to see open innovation become much more pervasive in technology sectors not historically associated with OSS. At the Eclipse Foundation, we’ve already diversified our governance to include use cases like AI, the IoT, Edge Computing, and, in 2020, silicon with the founding of the OpenHW Working Group. I think there is little doubt we will see more markets embrace this model.

Finally, and I think most profoundly, I believe in 2021 we will see the embrace and adoption of OSS become critical to the survival of entire industries. Take automotive as an example. These organizations are under immense pressure economically. They need to digitalise or die. Mastering open source innovation across their supply chains is a key element of their future survival.

JAXenter: Thanks for the great interview, Mike!

Mike Milinkovich ist seit mehr als dreißig Jahren in der Softwarebranche tätig, vom Software-Engineering über das Produktmanagement bis hin zur Lizenzierung von geistigem Eigentum. Seit 2004 ist er Executive Director der Eclipse Foundation. In dieser Funktion ist er für die Unterstützung sowohl der Open-Source-Community als auch des kommerziellen Ökosystems von Eclipse verantwortlich. Bevor er zu Eclipse kam, war Mike als Vice President in der Oracle-Entwicklungsgruppe tätig. Weitere Stationen auf seinem Weg waren WebGain, The Object People, IBM, Object Technology International (OTI) und Nortel. Mike sitzt im Vorstand der Open Source Initiative (OSI) sowie im Exekutivkomitee des Java Community Process (JCP) und ist Beobachter und ehemaliges Mitglied des Vorstands von OpenJDK.

Dominik Mohilo
Dominik Mohilo studied German and sociology at the Frankfurt University, and works at S&S Media since 2015.

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