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Trend Watch: Java

This is the ninth post in a multi-part series with a focus on trends that are interesting and important, specifically in enterprise computing. I’ll continue my point-in-time analysis with a focus on the Java programming language. Remember when Java was new?

Early Java

The Java programming language has been around for decades so it is hardly a new trend. However, what is trending is its use in new and growing ways. I first heard of Java when I was working in a development lab in North Carolina. I had coded in assembler language and REXX but had moved on to defining and managing projects, so I was no longer coding products.

I heard from a colleague that there were projects in the lab where developers were substituting Java for the languages they normally used. Developers started doing innovative things with the language and were very happy to be part of something new. This is when I first realized the innovation that could come from changing languages, thus providing greater involvement by developers. This also opened the door to hiring people with new skills. A simple change like bringing Java into the mix brought about new ways, new people, new software developments and other positive changes.

Why Is Java So Special?

Java is a general-purpose programming language like COBOL or REXX, so it can be used in many circumstances like business applications and systems software. It’s used for both client-side and server-side software implementations. It’s also used with web and mobile development.

Java uses a write once, run anywhere approach where you don’t need to recompile when the program is moved to a different platform. Each platform has one or more Java VMs that handle the platform dependencies. Pause and think about this. This idea alone is enough to make Java a game changer compared to many other languages.

Another game changer is licensing. The original and reference implementations of Java were released by Sun under proprietary licenses. As of 2007, in agreement with the specifications of the Java community process, Sun relicensed most of its Java technologies under the GNU General Public License.

Takeaway: Java has taken the industry by storm. Aligned with open source use, Java is fostering innovation on many platforms and runs as part of IT for the majority of major companies.

Java and Enterprise Computing

When Java adoption started to take off, software companies that were in the midst of wide-scale adoption of Java could implement their own compilers and make extensions that targeted the strengths of their platforms. IBM created the J9 VM as a platform-specific component that runs Java programs.

The IBM implementation of the Java platform provides development tools and an application runtime environment. The IBM implementation of the Java platform is based upon the Java Technology developed by Oracle Corporation (it came to them when they acquired Sun Microsystems). IBM supplies an installable package, the Software Developers Kit, that explain to developers how to implement and use IBM Java technology.

Next Post

Next week, I’ll finish this point-in-time analysis of trends with a focus on digital business and how new systems of engagement like cloud and mobile devices are changing the ways business is conducted with IT.