A new Liferay portal releases provides a good chance to ponder the state of runtimes in the Java world.
Open source portal vendor Liferay has just released a new version, building out the platform around the popular portal it’s been putting out for years. CMS Critic has a good wrap-up of the features in the new 6EE release. As with much of the Java world now, the ideas of an application server, a portal, a container, and a general platform have run together nicely for Liferay. The same is true for many others in the field since the iron-grip of the J(2)EE went arthritic awhile ago.
Think of the bucket of everything that Spring does, the opening up of the VM to run other languages, like the darlings of last year, Scala and Erlang. JEE has turned into a buffet finicky programers can pick from, not a suite of The Frameworks Ye Shall Use. On the whole, this is good as the standard, official Java world wasn’t really keeping pace with the fast evolving ideas coming from the consumer web – from the non-enterprise world.
The Motherhood and Apple-pie
Liferay seems to have done well with it’s strategy of keeping pace of “social” and the basics of portal needs. This is probably due to being open source and, as a company and project, scrappier than it’s rival products from Oracle, IBM, and JBoss. There’s a refreshing sense of simplicity in their messaging, e.g., a 215 meg runtime instead of “boxes of DVDs.” And, of course, there’s the promise of being cheaper than Brand X, often much cheaper. Their client list – with no shortage of big names – would seem testimony to the success of that strategy.
Being here at the Symposium in Anaheim, I can see that the Liferay folks and community itself (represented in something over a 100 attendees, I believe) have a nicely evolved open source warm-and-fuzzy feeling, at the same time being unashamedly open core. They’re all nicely earnest. (And, hey, it’s always nice to be in California to get one of these.)
From speaking with the Phurnace pholks before they were acquired by BMC, there’s a brisk business going on migrating from closed-source portals (IBM’s and Oracle/BEA’s) to open source ones, JBoss, Liferay, and co. CMO Paul Hinz used the phrase “end of feature” life as a jab at incumbent portal offerings that may not be End-of-Life, but are stagnant in their development. Clearly, in the portal space, Liferay is looking to pick up migrate-to-cheap portal projects. At the same time, they’re hoping to offer a harbor for Java developers, most of which are casting about for the platform to standardize on.
Write once, configure everywhere
As James pointed out recently, Java is far from “dead.”. Indeed, Java is finding much use as the basis for new middleware:
So the cool kids aren’t using Java. Or are they? One of the hottest trends in tech right now is NoSQL (If you’re a software developer get acquainted with it). Many of the hottest NoSQL technologies are written in Java.
MapReduce – one of the core technologies Google and Yahoo use for fast response times across large data sets is Java-based. A whole new industry ecosystem is growing around Hadoop, Apache’s MapReduce implementation. Ask our client Mike Olson fromCloudera if Java is dead. What about HBase? Java… Neo4J? Java. And so on. Of course we’re also seeing innovation from the new hotness – thus Erlang underpins CouchDB and RIAK. But Java is certainly core to the innovation. Lets look at RabbitMQ for example – which though written in Erlang was acquired by SpringSource as a messaging engine to underpin a Java-based programming model.
And that’s just the category of NoSQL. Sure, there’s plenty of folks who are happy to be liberated from Java – the post Rails world blew that sentiment door off the hinges…