Interview with Rich Sharples, Senior Director of Product Management for Middleware at Red Hat

Recent changes and what’s next for Java: “OpenJDK is the future of Java”

Gabriela Motroc
© Shutterstock / Min C. Chiu

The confusion over the rights to use Oracle JDK vs Oracle’s OpenJDK builds vs OpenJDK builds from other providers has been hovering over us for quite some time but now that the confusion has been untangled, it’s time to focus on the things that drive Java’s future; one such example is OpenJDK. We talked to Red Hat’s Rich Sharples about Java’s future and the company’s role in all this.

JAXenter: It seems that people have finally accepted that the answer to the question “Is Java still free?” is yes even though things have changed. Multiple providers offer implementations of the Java SE specification, as the Java champions explained in a document in which they answered all the important questions and untangled the confusion. What’s Red Hat’s take on this story and how is it involved in this narrative?

Rich Sharples: Red Hat has been one of the major contributors to the OpenJDK project and has commercially supported OpenJDK as part of Red Hat Enterprise Linux for over a decade. Red Hat has deep and broad roots in Open Source Java and we’re one of the few vendors who support a fully containerized enterprise stack built on Open Source Java – from Application and Web Servers, Microservices, API Management, Agile Integration to Business Rules, Distributed Data Grids, Messaging and Process Management.

Red Hat has been part of the rich history of Java and we’re helping to drive the future.

JAXenter: The changes to Oracle JDK distribution and support have been met with confusion and even disapproval but when it became clear that things will never be the same again, people started paying more attention to OpenJDK. So I have to ask: How important is OpenJDK?

Java has never been constrained by the organization that controls it – and that is no less true today than it was two decades ago.

Rich Sharples: Java continues to be one of the most popular programming languages in the industry and powers many of the largest companies on the planet. Even after more than two decades, the innovation around Java shows no sign of slowing down and Java powers many innovative applications in mobile, big data and artificial intelligence.

Java has never been constrained by the organization that controls it – and that is no less true today than it was two decades ago. OpenJDK is the future of Java and all the major Java implementations are based wholly or partially on OpenJDK technology.

JAXenter: What does the future hold for Java?

Rich Sharples: The future of Java is open and collaborative with companies like Red Hat taking more of a lead in defining where Java heads in the future. The future of Java SE is OpenJDK. Additionally, as we discussed in a recent blog post, the lifecycle for OpenJDK 7 has been extended to June 2020, and the lifecycle for OpenJDK 8 has been extended to June 2023 with the intent of providing users with sufficient time to migrate workloads to OpenJDK 11. Red Hat plans production support of OpenJDK 11 in the upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 update.

SEE ALSO: Is Java still free? The short answer is *Yes*

JAXenter: What does the transition mean for Java users and how can Red Hat help with that?

Rich Sharples: For current Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers – it is business as usual. Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscriptions include a fully supported, long-life-cycle distribution of OpenJDK. There is no need for Red Hat customers to consider any other Java SE distribution. OpenJDK is fully integrated, tested and tuned for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat also provides a complete portfolio of application development tools and middleware for building enterprise applications with Java.

JAXenter: How does Red Hat plan to support a more open Java and strengthen the position of OpenJDK?

OpenJDK is the future of Java and all the major Java implementations are based wholly or partially on OpenJDK technology.

Rich Sharples: We have been piloting a distribution of OpenJDK for Windows so that organizations can ensure that their developers (using Windows) can stay in synch with production systems using Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Red Hat is considering offering full production support for OpenJDK on Windows in addition to Red Hat Enterprise Linux so we can support organizations with mixed environments with both Windows and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

As a leading cloud platform provider – Red Hat is also investing in research and development resources to ensure that Java remains competitive even in high-density, resource-constrained environments such as containers and functions as a service. One example is the new ultra-low pausetime Garbage Collector (Shenandoah) – fully supported in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 and targeted to enter mainline in OpenJDK 12.

Red Hat also wrote much of, and leads the 64-bit ARMv8 port, AArch64 for OpenJDK, and helped move it into the upstream OpenJDK project. This will allow Java to be used for new, emerging applications and workloads.

Thank you!

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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