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Adding flavour to the Java brew

Although Sun clearly takes on the role of lead ‘barista’ at the Java coffee brewing pot, it would be hard not to notice the small army of partners, sponsors and industry ‘friends’ that comprise the total offering that is JavaOne.Given the buy-in to the general ethos of the open source initiatives driving much of this event, only the most cynical observers might argue that these companies are piggybacking along for a piece of the Java pie.
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Written by Adrian Bridgwater on

Although Sun clearly takes on the role of lead ‘barista’ at the Java coffee brewing pot, it would be hard not to notice the small army of partners, sponsors and industry ‘friends’ that comprise the total offering that is JavaOne.

Given the buy-in to the general ethos of the open source initiatives driving much of this event, only the most cynical observers might argue that these companies are piggybacking along for a piece of the Java pie. That said, Sun is resolutely ‘open’ over where it is positioned to make money from the current state of the market with its, ‘When you want support and service, just give us a call’ message. So it’s for sure that the other players present aren’t just here for the good of their health.

So who is adding flavour to the pot right now and is it all enrichment – or could any of these vendors be making the taste a little sour? A quick buzz around the show floor helped collate more than a fair share of opinions as to what we might be able to expect from the rest of the week.

Open source web infrastructure management may sound like a long-winded term, but a number of companies are pleased to label themselves thusly. One such vendor is Hyperic whose CEO Javier Soltero went on the record with ZDNet.co.uk to say, “With so much buzz around the acquisition of MySQL, we think a lot of companies will be watching to see how much Sun will showcase its one billion dollar investment at this year’s JavaOne show. Beyond that, we imagine with ‘cloud computing’ set to take over from ‘virtualisation’ as the ‘hot’ new technology, there’s bound to be a lot of vendor discussion about who has the most cloud competent strategy - and of course, curiosity regarding how Sun will tackle the issue.”

Hinting at an area we’ve not heard much about yet at the end of day one, I spoke to Jim Cook, Java product manager at Infragistics who said that, “I will be watching for news of Project Caroline, a grid computing effort from Sun. It is widely believed that Sun will have a major announcement about Caroline at the conference. Beyond that I’ll also be looking at new directions in open source and new developments in the Java Mobile market.”

Telling it pretty straight from the off was the affable Asad Ali, from GemStone Systems. Ali speaks volubly on virtualisation and brings life to potentially mind numbing concepts such as dynamic scaling and high resiliency. “The renewed focus on application performance will be a focal point at JavaOne 2008. We expect architects and developers to look for new design patterns, methodologies and solutions (both software and hardware) to increase the application throughput to meet the current enterprise needs. Along with new methodologies, the visitors at JavaOne would also focus on manageability tools to easily deploy the new technologies in mission critical applications,” he said.

Almost certainly winning the award for ‘best name for a spokesperson in a supporting role’ is Ms Stormy Peters of OpenLogic. Peters formed part of the opening address yesterday (on day zero) for the CommunityOne day where she said that she would be focused on discussing open source support and community models at JavaOne. “The question of whether there is a particular 'right' or successful model has been a hot topic recently, but I don't believe that there is one ‘right’ mode. We are seeing companies succeed with several different business models and new models are still emerging. There's room for more than one approach to succeed.”

Almost rounding up an exhausting lap of the show floor (JavaOne is held in the Moscone Centre, the largest column-free space in Los Angeles I think) was Adam Lieber, CEO of Webtide. Lieber addressed the cost vs. perfomance discussion very prevalent at this year’s JavaOne by saying, “This year people will see that the technologies that are developing in open source (and the licenses they are under) provide not just cheaper solutions, but technically superior ones, too.”

Rounding us up here with a nod to the software engineer T-shirt addiction mania that sweeps these events (I have plenty too – I’m guilty) is Debbie Moynihan, director of open source at Iona Technologies. “The crowds will no doubt be excited to hear about projects that are implementing the latest open standards and why they are important. We’ve seen a large interest in JMS, JBI, web services and OSGi and we expect huge booth traffic to hear the latest - and of course to get those free goodies that developers love.”

There are more vendors and more opinions that could productively be fitted into even the most expansive blog, but hopefully this snap shot is somewhat illustrative of the general look and feel.

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