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2014
Mark Little

Open source trends talk

Posted by Mark Little Nov 9, 2014

A few weeks ago I have the privilege of giving the keynote at OpenSlava 2014. Rather than talk about JBoss or Red Hat technologies/projects I decided to try something new and talk about how open source has impacted our lives over the past few decades. Most of us take this stuff for granted and I know that's definitely the case for me: having lived through all of it and helped participate in some of it, I found pulling together the presentation both enjoyable and a reminder. I hope to get the opportunity to give the presentation again as I've already thought of a few other things I'd like to add to it and also get more audience participation. Hopefully those people at OpenSlava got as much out of it as I did writing it.

 

The video of the presentation is available online and linked earlier. The actual presentation is also available. However, for those who can't watch the video I thought I'd include a few of the slides. We all know about Linux and the huge impact it has had on the software industry since it started over twenty years ago:

 

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Not only was it also used within the PS3 but it's the basis of Android, a fact many of those phone users don't know. Then of course we have to remember the role open source played in creating the Web:

 

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And for those in the audience who didn't know, the gopher is from Caddyshack! Of course we talk about the Web and implicitly believe we all understand what "it" means and has become. I thought this image of the connectivity map for the Web helped bring it and hence the impact open source has had on our lives, to life:

 

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Of course Java, not open source originally, has had its own significant impact on the software industry. I like to think that JBoss/Red Hat have played an important role in that journey too. But as this slide shows, it's also had an impact outside of our industry including an important one for many kids: Minecraft. I've seen children teach themselves all about Java, jars, manifest files etc. just so they can create mods for Minecraft and exchange them with their friends! I'm not sure any other language could have had quite that impact without open source!

 

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I've already touched on how open source is helping to drive mobile, and in the presentation I also mentioned cloud. Of course there's also Big Data and NoSQL, which are most definitely being driven by open source first and foremost. So over the years where open source was the follower, now it is the leader.

 

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As I concluded in the presentation, open source is no longer a second-class citizen, the domain of some developers working "on the edge". It's often the first line of attack to a problem and has become accepted by many users and developers. Where we take it now is no longer constrained by hurdles such as persuading people open source is a viable alternative (often there is no alternative). Now the limitations are our imagination and determination to make open source solutions work!

 

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I'll leave it as an exercise to the interested reader, but I've written many times about the capabilities that we have in the JBoss middleware products and projects. Many of them have been developed over several years, some such as Narayana/JBoss Transactions, since before Java was even called Java! Our customers and communities regularly deploy the software we have developed in conjunction with our communities, into mission critical environments.

 

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Obviously given our heritage we've focused on what this all means for Java and Java EE. But our various polyglot efforts, around JRuby, Clojure, Ceylon and other languages have shown clearly that the capabilities can be made available to a wider variety of languages than just Java. But obviously not all languages people are interested in run on the JVM and even those that do, such as JavaScript, have a massive non-JVM following. I've said time and again that our industry can't afford to re-invent wheels, especially critical wheels such as transactions, security and high performance messaging. In most cases it's a waste of time or brings dubious value. Making these capabilities available to other languages even outside of the JVM has to be a serious consideration before any wheel reinvention takes place! But how do we do this?

 

In the "good old days" before J2EE we had CORBA where everything was a service. With J2EE and threads within the Java language, people took co-location of capabilities as the default - remote invocations do add some overhead after all (give them a try!) Recently we've had SOA, where business components can be services. Along comes cloud and Software-as-a-Service takes off - the clues in the name! Services offer one such possibility and with the increasing adoption of REST (typically over HTTP) this is an approach with which many users and developers are comfortable. Exposing business components as services is just one step. Taking core capabilities and exposing them as services (just as CORBA did) is the obvious next step and something others have done, especially in the cloud arena. About 5 years ago I gave a presentation about this, a slide from which is included, with circles representing core Java EE capabilities and rectangles as containers, JVMs or VMs:

 

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Now where's all of this going? Well we (Red Hat) have made some progress towards approach this over the years but recently we've seen a significant acceleration. With the advent of xPaaS, integrated services and products for the DevOps world, and now Fabric8, Kubernetes and OpenShift, the creation of docker-based services (components) is happening now. Our aim is to ensure that these services are available to all (public, private, hybrid cloud as well as non-cloud deployments). Within the cloud they'll appear via Fabric8/OpenShift within xPaaS, perhaps as individual services or applications, or within a composite - time will tell, as we are quite early in some aspects of this development process.

 

Ultimately what docker, Kubernetes, Farbric8, OpenShift and many other efforts allows us to do is realise a long held belief and define an enterprise middleware layer that is independent of programming language - the Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Middleware layer. Often our industry spends too much time focussing on the specific languages, the latest shiny object and not enough on the what it takes to build enterprise mission critical applications. This is all part of improving developer productivity, because without these capabilities (transactions, messaging etc.) someone has to implement them and if that's your developers then they're clearly not able to spend time working on the applications or business components you're paying them to build! With our approach we're exposing these services to whatever language makes sense for our customers and communities; those we don't get around to can be worked on by our communities, as that's the beauty of open source!

 

We are embracing and extending our Java heritage but in whatever language makes sense. We have the heritage and pedigree and we should build upon this. The JBoss name should become synonymous with this enterprise layer with associated capabilities (services) irrespective of the programming language you're using. We started this with JBossEverywhere but it needs to go much further. In the polyglot, mobile and cloud era the language for backend services can be varied and often down to an individual developer, but the maturity and enterprise worthiness that the backend provides should not be open to debate. If you are relying upon your backend to be available, reliable, fault tolerant etc. then the maturity, pedigree and heritage you're using are extremely important.

 

JBoss is a platform for the future.

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