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Will Java EE 8 adoption outpace previous releases?

At JavaOne 2014, Barry Burd discussed how and why he's predicting a fast adoption of Java EE 8.

Java EE 8 adoption will outpace that of previous releases, because most business leaders now realize that success is impossible without the latest software, according to Java expert Barry Burd. "Businesses can bet that their competitors' developers will be using Java 8. Those who don't will fall behind," said Burd, a computer science professor and author of the Java for Dummies books. Some Java developers, however, say there are hurdles that will slow down migration.

Citing hand counts and conversations at JavaOne 2014 in San Francisco, Burd concluded that the majority of attendees are now using Java EE 7 and are ready to move up. In this video, he explains why migrating to Java EE 8 will be a plus for development organizations. In the article below, however, Burd and Java pros talk about their Java EE 8 migration plans. Burd is professor of computer science and mathematics at Drew University in Madison, N.J.

Positive experiences with early releases of Java 8 have made a believer of Nick Sabey, senior systems engineer at a.i. Solutions, a NASA contractor. Installing NetBeans 8 also helped his team spot and fix bugs in previous applications. Keith Chapman, project engineer at a.i., credits NetBeans and agreed, noting that "Just by making the switch to Java 8 we were able to close out some trouble tickets."

Sean Phillips, a.i. solutions senior software engineer, expected to see some issues with new dependencies. At the least, he thought, he would have to uncheck a few boxes to make existing applications work on Java 8. This wasn't the case, and no issues arose.

Now, the biggest challenge the a.i. developers face is managing a slow rollout, because their systems administrators are raring to migrate.

Lack of skills slow Java 8 migration

While other Java pros wouldn't think of sticking with older Java versions, other issues will slow down their migrations.

Training 3,500 developers to use Java 8 isn't an overnight job, said Jeffery Makusy at JavaOne 2014. It may take a year, said this systems analyst for USAA, an insurance firm in San Antonio, Texas, with about 9 million customers. Indeed, most of USAA's development is now done using Java EE 6. Use of Java EE 7 is coming, due to its batch processing capabilities. Currently this kind of programming is done using mainframe programming languages like COBOL. These new capabilities will make it easier for younger Java developers to write mainframe processing applications.

Makusy is eager to take advantage of Java 8 features, including support for streams for data processing and new lambda capabilities. The streams capabilities will come in handy when it comes to aggregating out claims data in a specific geographic area or in culling down member base by location to know what kind of risks they face, he said. Also, lambda will make programming easier by allowing his team to create data objects that behave in specific ways.

Security, stability risks puts off Java 8 move

Concern about Java EE 8 security will put migration on hold for about two years for financial software services firm Temenos SA in Geneva, said development manager Herve Aubert. Security-averse financial services companies commonly are rarely first adopters of new technologies. Aubert wants to see the technology proved out in other financial businesses first. Meanwhile, Temenos is just now moving its development environment away from C towards Java EE 6, which can bring better cloud and multi-tenant performance to its applications.

It's not that Java EE 8 features, particularly Lambda Expressions, aren't attractive to Aubert and other developers on the slow train to adoption. Like financial services companies, some businesses are so risk-averse that they're sticking with older technologies. Southeastern Freight Lines (SFL), for example, has about 15 million lines of COBOL code and is still running on old boxes that support Java 4. Sure, Lambda Expressions would simplify coding, said a lead developer there, but SFL eschews the technology bleeding edge. Currently, he's working on a five-year migration to Java EE 7 and Linux.

If an entire industry takes a slow approach to adopting the latest development platforms, then that strategy may work, Burd said in a post-video conversation. As cloud and Java EE 8 change the playing field, however, he expects to see some businesses in traditionally conservative markets making a big technology leap and leaving others scrambling.

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