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Transitioning Java EE to the cloud now more of a priority than ever

Enterprise Java was a topic of intense focus during the opening keynote at the JavaOne 2016 conference this year. As expected, Oracle had many proposals for how the EE platform can be made more effective, accessible, and useful for today’s businesses and the development teams that support them. Anil Gaur, Group Vice President of Cloud Application Foundation at Oracle, also brought a number of guests to the stage to talk about what aspects of the platform are most important to their organizations.

The cloud integration challenge

In the world of distributed environments, there are many issues that beset the enterprise development community. Anil Gaur, Group Vice President of Cloud Application Foundation at Oracle, touched on a number of challenges including ever more demanding business requirements, cloud migration, and microservices. There was also interest in packaging a runtime with applications, since this is becoming a common practice that has fundamentally changed how developers think about putting software together for deployment. “The application is now the boss. It decides what is packaged,” said Gaur.

Gaur’s compatriots on the JavaOne keynote stage agreed with his assertion that microservice and cloud transitions are key concerns for the modern enterprise. Takashi Murakami, Manager of Alliance and Strategy Business Development from Hitachi, discussed during his keynote presentation how his customers have a serious interest in maintaining their existing investment, but at the same time, being able to migrate to the cloud and use microservices without starting from the ground up is important in aligning with their business objectives. For Fujitsu’s Kenji Kazumura, Senior Professional Engineer, the interest is the same. He noted that JavaEE is going to make this process easy in conjunction with Fujitsu’s own Interstage business collaboration platform.

Security a top priority

The need for meaningful authentication protocols was mentioned by more than one participant in Gaur’s lineup. Markus Eriksson, Software Architect at IFS, spoke of the rapid growth of B2B collaboration between customers and partners. “Managing third party access using enterprise directories is becoming too complicated these days.” In addition, they are seeing a need to expose certain ERP functionality to individuals for practical purposes. Over the long term, they hope to use OpenID Connect certification to provide secure, token based access to their systems. Eriksson expressed support for the proposed JavaEE security upgrades in this area.

CERN software engineer Benjamin Wolff agreed that strong authentication is critical for today’s highly connected and interactive organizations. CERN itself partners with over 600 universities and thousands upon thousands of individuals. Wolf mentioned that federated identities are essential in this type of environment when talking to remote identity providers. OAuth will be an important part of this picture.

Standardization leads the way

Gaur spoke of a number of changes under discussion that would help create a better roadmap for developers to follow when they are familiarizing themselves with JavaEE. Java Rockstars may have an easy time solving many thorny problems, but the average programmer is frequently stuck relying on the first page of search results or digging through message boards to try to determine what components they need to meet a particular challenge. The EE ecosystem can be, frankly, overwhelming. There is such a thing as too many options. Oracle wants to make things easier for those who haven’t been working with JavaEE all these years. “We are thinking of the next wave of developers. Where do you start?”

Johan Vos, CTO of Cloud and Enterprise Solutions at Gluon, echoed the sentiment in his remarks. “When APIs are needed to access external services, it’s important to attempt to standardize them.” For Gluon, a company that is seeking to drive engagement with mobile users, there’s a pressing need for easy ways to sync a variety of client side devices with the backend. With greater standardization, developers can spend less time writing boilerplate for external connectors.

But Vos did point out that Oracle’s goals in this area are quite ambitious in terms of scope and timeline. Gaur ended the segment with a plea to the development community. Without their insight, input and influence, the challenges of standardization may remain an obstacle too high to surmount.

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