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Red Hat Breathes New Life Into Java | Enterprise

By Jack M. Germain

Apr 23, 2019 11:54 AM PT

Red Hat is the new keeper of the keys to two popular versions of the open source Java implementation,
OpenJDK 8 and
OpenJDK 11. The company has taken over stewardship from Oracle, it announced last week.

Red Hat Breathes New Life Into Java

Oracle ended commercial support for Java 8 and the Oracle JDK 8 implementation of Java SE last year. Oracle left the enterprise Java business when it transitioned support and maintenance of Java Platform to the
Eclipse Foundation, where it is now known as “Jakarta EE.”

Red Hat’s move enables developers to continue building apps with Java after Oracle abandoned support for the programming language. It also strengthens Red Hat’s support for the Java community, particularly enterprise Java developers.

OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 are strategic releases of
OpenJDK, an open source implementation of Java, one of the most widely used programming languages for building enterprise-grade applications.

In addition to its work within individual OpenJDK communities, Red Hat leads the upstream development of
Shenandoah, a high-performance garbage collector that is now part of OpenJDK 12.

In its role as the new steward of OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 update releases, Red Hat will work with the community to enable continued innovation in Java. The company has been a member of the OpenJDK community since 2007 and is one of the largest contributors to the project.

Red Hat’s long-time Java technical lead, Andrew Haley, was appointed as project lead for OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 earlier this year. He has been an active member of the OpenJDK governing board for seven years and, in this capacity, helps to guide the future direction of Java and OpenJDK.

Essential Impact

With Red Hat’s stewardship of OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11, enterprises using those distributions can rest assured that patches and updates will continue for a few more years, noted Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“That’s particularly important from a security standpoint, since Oracle discontinued issuing security patches for OpenJDK 8 in January. Doing so will provide OpenJDK users some breathing room to determine how or how much they will need to use these older versions. That includes significant numbers of Red Hat and IBM customers,” King told LinuxInsider.

Created in 1996 by Sun Microsystems as an Object Oriented Programming language, Java continues to evolve and is critically important for many organizations, King noted.

“It is arguable that languages like JavaScript, Node.js and Python are growing more dynamically,” he said, “but Java is so deeply embedded in enterprise IT that it will continue to be a driving force for thousands of global organizations.”

The Plan

Red Hat announced commercial support for OpenJDK on Microsoft Windows last December. It plans to launch OpenJDK in a Microsoft installer in the coming weeks and distribute IcedTea-Web as part of the Windows OpenJDK distribution. IcedTea-Web is a free software implementation of Java Web Start.

JDK Mission Control is available as part of Red Hat Software Collections and for Windows through the Red Hat Customer Portal. The portal enables developers and administrators to collect and analyze data from Java applications running locally or deployed in production environments.

As steward of the two open source Java implementation versions, Red Hat will maintain releases and determine what it does or does not add. That is important, because others — including AWS, Azul Systems, AdoptOpenJDK and SAP — also will base their releases on OpenJDK 11.

Red Hat will provide bug and security fixes, which is a major benefit for users of a supported OpenJDK environment. Unsupported environments are unlikely to be current on security.

Red Hat is not making any radical changes to OpenJDK 8, which is in maintenance mode, or OpenJDK 11, but it will keep long-term support for each. The company also plans to support and enable more innovation in Java.

“Red Hat has been an active member of the OpenJDK community for a very long time and has previously been leading Java 7,” noted Howard Green, vice president of marketing at
Azul Systems.

“By assuming project lead responsibility for OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11, Red Hat is helping to ensure that key production versions of the Java platform are actively managed and will continue to be updated on a quarterly cadence,” he told LinuxInsider.

Multifaceted Language

The course of Java’s development and its open source deviations can be confusing. At best, you can view it as a multi-dialect language.

The future leadership and control of Java is being managed carefully by current Java SE (Java Platform, Standard Edition) owner Oracle.

This care reflects the importance of Java as an enterprise programming language and platform, according to Michael Azoff, distinguished analyst for infrastructure solutions at Ovum.

“Clearly, Oracle wants change, and while it owns Java SE it has handed Java EE (Java Platform, Enterprise Edition) to the Eclipse Foundation, which has renamed it ‘Jakarta EE.’ Red Hat, a significant contributor to the OpenJDK, has stepped up and is stewarding both OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11, which will converge with the Oracle JDK,” he said.

More news will develop on the transition of Java stewardship over the next few years, said Azoff, adding that Red Hat is a “safe pair of hands” for that role.

“It is also a better fit with Java being open source and Red Hat being a leader in the open source software community,” he added.

Evolving Nature

Java is in a renaissance moment, noted Mike Piech, vice president and general manager for middleware products at Red Hat. It continues to evolve and be a key component of new, emerging architectures.

“There is a developer hunger to bring Java into the next generation of development,” he said, “and Red Hat is a leader in this movement through our involvement in the OpenJDK project.”


Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.

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