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What's In A Name: Is This The End Of J2EE?

Why Change One Of The Most Successful Brands Now? Only The Marketing Teams At Sun Know The Real Answer

There has been talk recently that Sun is planning to end the use of the J2 platform name and branding scheme. The proposal is that the terms Java Enterprise Edition and Java Standard Edition will replace J2EE and J2SE. If you had the opportunity to read the March edition of JDJ, you will have discovered that the history of the J2 name, although not perfect, was a compromise by recognizing the platform had taken a significant step forward and resisting the temptation for calling the new release Java 2000.

Given that history, a name change was probably always on the cards but there was never a good time to make that change. In the early days of J2EE, getting vendors to adopt and use the term J2EE was essential for the success of the platform as an industry-wide event. Changing the J2EE name at that point would have confused matters to no end, so a name change was a nonstarter. Later, with the emergence of the .NET Framework from Microsoft, the Java community rallied behind the J2EE banner when comparing the two platforms. Microsoft even used this comparison, partly in an attempt to validate a very new .NET platform, even to the extent of focusing less on the comparison of Java versus C#.

Why change one of the most successful brands now? Only the marketing teams at Sun know the real answer. The J2SE name in particular never got the industry recognition that J2EE received, but changing all the brands for consistency is never cheap. What it means for the average Java developer is unclear. It is now more descriptive to say that you are a Java Enterprise Edition developer, but at the same time clients and recruiters will still be looking for a J2EE developers so I doubt the J2EE name will ever really disappear.

Regardless if you call yourself a J2EE or Java Enterprise Edition developer, there were two other pieces of interesting news this month. The first was another article from Sun about the Barcelona project (the Multi-Tasking Virtual Machine, MVM); the second item was the first shipping Java system from Azul Systems.

The Multi-Tasking Virtual Machine
The MVM JVM is still a research project but garners a lot of attention in and outside Sun. The claims are that using the MVM technology will result in more scalable JVMs with improved startup time. The version I tried at Sun didn't use the standard isolated JSR and I didn't get very far making it work on Solaris. The MVM model is similar to other service style models like the X-based console/terminal service. The X-based console service does not start a new process each time a terminal request is received but instead spins off a new instance. The huge advantage is decreased startup time; the traditional downside is that if one console experiences an error, it can take down all the other running consoles - something that was very frustrating for early users. The MVM plan is to spin off applications that would be a higher risk, for example, using JNI in their own process space. We will have to wait to see a public download, but getting a product from research into production is hard and requires a lot of dedication.

A New Java CPU
The first shipping Java appliance from Azul Systems is the second piece of news of note. In the early days of Java there was some interest in having a Java CPU; however, the focus was to replace the most complex application of all, the desktop. Azul Systems have mitigated this by narrowing their scope to J2EE application servers. However, the big surprise is the cost of a dedicated Java CPU.

CNET reports that the base production systems cost just under $200,000 for a 192 CPU system, or approximately $1,000 dollars per processor and peaks out at just under $800,000 dollars. That is a great leap of faith for some, although the price is in-line with large systems from traditional Unix vendors. There is a trial 89 CPU system for demo users but time will tell if there is demand for such a powerful system. My own employer's Web site delivers most of its Java application services through a cluster of four machines and two database servers, and even when we first started the Java developer connection site we literally had a single ultra 1 machine. Yet it's a testament to Java technology that no one is rushing to build a C# or .NET processor to compete.

In closing, next month's edition if JDJ will be focused on JavaOne, probably still the largest Java conference in the world. If you have any interesting stories to share please let me know at [email protected]. I have been fortunate to have attended every show to date and will be sharing my tips and tricks on making the most of the conference.

More Stories By Calvin Austin

A section editor of JDJ since June 2004, Calvin Austin is an engineer at SpikeSource.com. He previously led the J2SE 5.0 release at Sun Microsystems and also led Sun's Java on Linux port.

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