Interview with Mark Little, Red Hat VP of Engineering

MicroProfile: “Java EE needs to keep evolving”

Gabriela Motroc
Mark Little

Red Hat recently joined forces with Payara, IBM, Tomitribe and the London Java Community to create MicroProfile, an open forum which aims to bring microservices to Enterprise Java. In this interview series, we ask all the parties involved to comment on the initiative and their contribution to MicroProfile. Our third interviewee is Mark Little, Red Hat VP of Engineering.

The DevNation conference marked a new beginning; Red Hat’s Mark Little was joined on-stage by Alasdair Nottingham from IBM, Theresa Nguyen from Tomitribe, Mike Croft from Payara and Martijn Verburg from the London Java Community to announce MicroProfile, a new community collaboration which aims to make it easier for developers to use familiar Java EE technologies and APIs for building microservice applications.

Payara’s Mike Croft was the first to comment on this new initiative. Our second interviewee was Martijn Verburg, CEO at jClarity and co-organizer of the London Java Community. 

Our third interviewee is Mark Little, Red Hat VP of Engineering.


JAXenter: Red Hat, IBM, Tomitribe, Payara and the London Java Community joined forces to create MicroProfile. What are the objectives of this initiative?

Mark Little: We are trying to define a portable and interoperable standard for people interested in developing microservices with Java EE. However, we all believe that we need to gain much more experience with communities and other vendors on what works, what doesn’t work etc. That’s why we are doing this upstream in a public open source manner, where everybody is welcome. We strongly believe that eventually we will want to evolve towards incorporating more than just Java EE in what we do, so whilst we may start with this, where we end up could be very different. At this stage we just don’t know because we need much more experience and involvement.

You don’t need to be a greenfield developer to move towards microservices.

JAXenter: During the keynote at the DevNation conference you talked about the benefits open standards, competition, collaboration and compatibility bring to developers. How do you plan to convince developers that bringing microservices to Enterprise Java is the right thing to do?

Mark Little: Fortunately we don’t need to convince many of them: we haven’t started this initiative because only those people on stage thought it is a good idea. Over the last year or more we have all had customers, partners, communities of Java EE developers who came to us and said they want to get into microservices but they can’t afford to throw away what they’ve invested in so far, in terms of technologies and skills. Some vendors who are pushing microservices require you to start afresh and with a clean slate to get the benefits. We’re not discounting that approach, and speaking just for Red Hat at this point we do have approaches that meet those requirements too. However, we also believe that you don’t need to be a greenfield developer to move towards microservices and in fact there are more people who are in this category than not.

So we have to show them how to expand their applications, processes and skills rather than throw them aside.

JAXenter: What is Red Hat’s take on the current state of Java EE? How can MicroProfile bring it forward?

Mark Little: We’ve always been a big supporter of Java EE and we still are. We’ve helped drive efforts such as CDI, Bean Validation, JTA, Batch and others. We’re not pulling back on that support either. However, as I mentioned during the DevNation keynote, Java EE today represents an evolution of enterprise middleware over decades and it needs to keep evolving. We see the MicroProfile effort as one way to bring it forward because EE captures many key aspects of writing enterprise systems, such as messaging, security and transactions, which developers need even in the new world of microservices.

We’ve always been a big supporter of Java EE.

JAXenter: What is Red Hat’s contribution to MicroProfile?

Mark Little: We’re working with the other members to help define the basic microservices profile, which will be ready by September 2016. We’re also working to ensure that our own Java EE microservices project, WildFly Swarm, is compliant as well as helps to drive requirements into the overall effort.

JAXenter: How can the community participate in the MicroProfile effort?

Mark Little: There’s a‪‬ website and associated discussion group which has seen massive interest since the announcement. Come along, join this initiative!

JAXenter: Oracle spokesman Mike Moeller recently told The Register that there is a “very well defined proposal” for Java EE 8. Will this announcement influence MicroProfile’s goal?

Mark Little: At this stage we don’t know what Oracle are planning, but we are certainly interested in discussing various options with them.

Thank you very much!

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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