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Microsoft gains instant Java credibility with jClarity buy

Microsoft has acquired jClarity to help optimize its Azure cloud platform to run Java workloads, a coveted target for the now open source-friendly software giant.

Microsoft's acquisition of Java performance analysis and monitoring firm jClarity helps optimize Azure for Java workloads, and further backs up Microsoft's claims to bring all kinds of workloads to its cloud platform.

The move, for an undisclosed sum, gives Microsoft instant Java credibility. The Java Virtual Machine (JVM) experts at jClarity are also the primary force behind AdoptOpenJDK, a free vendor-neutral distribution of OpenJDK which Microsoft has supported for more than a year. OpenJDK is a free, open source implementation of the Java Platform, Standard Edition.

"Clearly, Microsoft is investing in convincing its customers that they can safely bring their Java workloads to Azure, and the experts at jClarity will certainly be able to help there," said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation in Ottawa, Canada. "I am looking forward to seeing Microsoft engage with the Java community at places like AdoptOpenJDK, Jakarta EE and OpenJDK."

jClarity employs machine learning techniques to tune Java systems performance, which will help increase performance for Java workloads on Azure, said John Montgomery, Microsoft's corporate vice president of program management for developer tools and services. Over the last few years, Microsoft has increased its Java usage with large-scale deployments such as Azure HDInsight and Minecraft, and customers such as Adobe, Daimler and Société Générale have brought their Java production workloads to Azure, he said.

If you want to provide support of OpenJDK, it helps to have folks that know how to do it and have the requisite expertise to do so.
Jeffrey HammondAnalyst, Forrester

jClarity will work with Microsoft Azure engineers to make Azure perform better for Microsoft's Java customers, developers and end users, said Martijn Verburg, co-founder and CEO of jClarity. Verburg is now principal engineering group manager for Java at Microsoft.

Microsoft has a strong Azure offering for Java and Spring developers, but most people in those communities are not aware of it, at least in Europe, said Julien Dubois, a Paris-based Azure developer advocate at Microsoft. His primary goal is to connect those developers with Microsoft's product team in a bidirectional communication, he added.

Moreover, working with the open source community is not at all new to Microsoft, as more than half of the compute workloads that run on Azure are Linux-based, Montgomery said.

For Java credibility, Microsoft again taps ecosystem

Microsoft's jClarity addition is a smart move, said Rod Johnson, CEO of Atomist and creator of the popular Java-based Spring Framework.

"Microsoft is executing well with GitHub, so this is definitely the kind of direction that I would see them going," he said. "It's really pretty interesting that Microsoft is going so deep into the Java ecosystem. They're certainly not the old Microsoft anymore."

Microsoft now represents a viable alternative to Oracle, and others such as Red Hat, Amazon and Azul, for developers who want an OpenJDK implementation.

Forrester analyst Jeffrey HammondJeffrey Hammond

"If you want to provide support of OpenJDK, it helps to have folks that know how to do it and have the requisite expertise to do so," said Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst at Forrester Research. "If anything, I'd expect an increase in support for AdoptOpenJDK from the Java engineering team at Microsoft."

Microsoft's Java history swings full circle

Microsoft has a long history with Java. The company developed its own JVM in 1996, not long after Sun Microsystems the Java language and platform in 1995. Microsoft also released Java development tools including Visual J++ and J#. However, after litigation battles with Sun and the federal government, Microsoft discontinued its JVM and Java tools. In 2000, Microsoft C#, a Java-like language that became the company's flagship development language.

"This acquisition is a proof point that Microsoft is not only for C#," said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research in San Francisco. "Enterprises have large Java investments and want to keep running them. jClarity gives CXOs with Java the confidence that Microsoft is serious on Java workloads and will invest in better JDK support."

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Would you trust Microsoft to run your Java-based workloads on Azure?
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I'm always curious about the stories behind the stories. When acquisitions occur, sometimes they are driven by strategies of the buyer that are not visible and not obvious, but they depend on the IP or products of the acquired company. Sometimes, they are just "acquihires", i.e. the buying company basically paid a small premium to hire people because they wanted that talent. Sometimes, they are VC-driven, when one VC investment "buys" another investment from the same VC, to simultaneously get the failing one off the books and to build the workforce of the promising one that is taking off. Sometimes, an acquisition is for revenue, because the cost of the acquisition is smaller than the bump it will provide to the acquiring company. It is always hard to know which is which from the outside.

Peace,

Cameron.
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