Prepping for JavaOne: The Alumni Interviews

With JavaOne only two weeks away, IDN talked with several key JavaOne alumni, including James Gosling, John Crupi, and execs from IBM, BEA, and other large and small Java-using and Java-watching firms to hear what they are looking for at JavaOne 2006. We also spoke about what they most enjoyed from past shows. Take a tour of once and future JavaOnes with us.

Tags: Java, Technology, Attendees, Developers, Trends, Vice President, SOA,


With JavaOne only two weeks away, IDN talked with several key JavaOne alumni, including James Gosling, John Crupi, and execs from IBM, BEA, and other large and small Java-using and Java-watching firms to hear what they are looking for at JavaOne 2006. We also spoke about what they most enjoyed from past shows. Take a tour of once and future JavaOnes with us.

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For our interviews, we asked subjects about what they were most looking-forward to for JavaOne 2006, and how they expect announcements at the show might impact companies and careers. We also asked about what their favorite past JavaOne moment was, and how JavaOne should position itself for a healthy and happy future.

Enjoy the armchair tour—and walk down JavaOne Memory Lane with:

Sun: James Gosling, Father of Java and CTO of Sun's developer products group
IBM: Sandy Carter, vice president, IBM's SOA and WebSphere strategy
BEA: Bill Roth, vice president BEA's Workshop Unit
John Crupi, CTO, JackBe (John is also a Sun distinguished engineer and while at Sun co-authored the Core J2EE Patterns)
Edgenet Inc.'s Yash Talreja, Senior Vice President - Products & Technology
RedMonk analyst Michael Cote
Rob Weaver, Architect / Owner, of AccuWeaver LLC

Sun: James Gosling, Father of Java; CTO of Sun's developer products group

What are you most looking forward to at this year's JavaOne?
Gosling: The main theme for most folks will be the enterprise, and there are a few interesting things happening there. One is the new version of Java EE, which is all focused on increased scalability, reliability and dealing with complexity. And, the keys to dealing with complexity will be the tools, which attendees will see ate getting dramatically good and much more sophisticated.

How do you expect this year's JavaOne's technology may impact a developer/attendee's career?
Gosling:I hope that developers will see that the tools are catching up to their needs. And I really hope that they will feel some breathing room. Developers are getting more and more dumped on, and the pressure is really on now. So, a big part of our job is to make it possible for them to survive. So smarter, more agile, and better integration with their environments will all be themes.

What would you most like to see/hear about at JavaOne, that you're not sure you WILL see?
Gosling: Another trend is that enterprise apps are not just sitting in air-conditioned rooms anymore, they are connected to everything. They touch browsers, cellphones, manufacturing floors and while Sun doesn't make all those things, because applications and the network touches all those things, we get involved. And, that will mean developers shave the opportunity to also get involved.

What is your favorite memory from all the JavaOnes you've ever attended?
Gosling:: The things I remember aren't about the business, really. They are about people and things that happen [at the show]. One of my favorite memories was JavaOne when we had the JPL {Jet propulsion lab] guys there. It was the year that I had finally decided that launching T-shirts with a trebuchet was just too much work. And, I had an intern working for me at the time who came up with the idea, 'Why don't you turn it into a contest?' It was a great idea, and so I was at dinner with the guys from JPL that night talking about ways to launch T-Shirts, and they shared their fantasy entry, which was in truth really scary. When someone's first words are 'Well, first you build a rail gun….' You know you're in for a scary evening, especially as rail guns don't work to well at sub-sonic speeds.

IBM: Sandy Carter, vice president, SOA and WebSphere strategy

What are you most looking forward to at this year's JavaOne?
Carter: As a platinum cosponsor, IBM is looking forward to participating in so many of the Birds of a Feather sessions as well as panel discussions regarding Java, open source and, or course, how innovations like these will continue to drive the demand for service-oriented architecture. With so many interesting sessions, it's going to be challenging to see everything that I want. I'm not as sure that I'll be able to make all the great BOF night sessions such as "What's Next for Java Business Integration," so as a team, we're going to divide and conquer and then share our learnings after the event.

How do you expect this year's JavaOne's technology events will impact your company's plans in 2006?
Carter: At this point, it wouldn't be fair to answer that question until after the event. IBM continues to keep a close watch on industry news and events and our strategy will continue to be shaped by our customers' needs. JavaOne will bring to the forefront the emerging trends, issues and news that will impact the industry. Those, of course, impact the way that we'll continue to work as peers and collaborators in advancing open standards.

As a long-time JavaOne attendee, what trends in JavaOne have you found most valuable or entertaining?
Carter: I'd have to say the BOF sessions as they present the opportunity to exchange ideas with colleagues regarding highly focused topics.

How would you comment to the following JavaOne criticism voiced by some attendees at JavaOne 2003-05.Sun has stifled participation from competing Java/J2EE providers, including Open Source offerings/projects.Was this ever an issue for you in past years? If so, has JavaOne management repaired the situation?
Carter: We've consistently enjoyed the JavaOne conference and found the show to be a tremendous opportunity to present and connect live, one-on-one and in groups, to share experiences and insight.

BEA: Bill Roth Vice President of BEA's Workshop Unit

What are you most looking forward to at this year's JavaOne?
Roth: I'd like to hear if there will be a radical change in Java policy as a result of Scott McNealy going upstairs. I don't think there will be, and I believe that Scott will still exert his power as chairman from upstairs.

What would you most like to see/hear about at JavaOne, that you're not sure you WILL see?
Roth:I would like to hear more about Open Sourcing Java. We really need to look at the Harmony project to see what is going on there, and it would be interesting to hear more from Sun on that. And, from BEA's point of view, I'd love to see more liberalization of the JCP, which I think is being used more to stifle innovation than to promote innovation. There are still some interesting things we and IBM have tried to get done, which under the rubric of openness have bee4n stultified.

How do you expect this year's JavaOne will impact your own career opportunities in 2006?
Roth: I expect us to impact company's IT plans around our JavaOne announcements. Without going into detail, I can say that dynamic languages will have a big play. So, we will point out to attendees that EJB 3 and Open JCA and dynamic languages are something to look into. There is a future where lots of projects are multi-language. And Java developers shouldn't be nervous about that. The good news is that Java devs already use more languages in their day-to-day tasks than Microsoft devs, so this is not a difficult leap.

How do you expect JavaOne might change careers?
Roth: There are two trends here. First, the world of development is changing more toward graphical and dynamic applications. So, developers should grasp what the inversion of control and container can bring to them with technologies like Spring and EJB 3. EJB 3 also important as a persistence mechanism for enterprise-class transactional objects.

And, then there is wireless. It is amazing, but look at the Blackberry unit volume and when you realize all that is running Java, that is an amazing story for J2ME. It's the story that never ceases to be believed. I have always been a bit of a skeptic, but it is happening.

As a long-time JavaOne attendee, what trends in JavaOne have you found most valuable or entertaining?
Roth: The level of presentations have always been great and the detailed level of content has been fabulous, and that will I expect continue.

What is your favorite memory from all the JavaOnes you've ever attended?
Roth: I was a huge Doug Addams fan and he tells his story of his packet of biscuits, and now that he has passed its all the more meaning. In his story, he is sitting in Paddington Station waiting for a train and he has a package of biscuits (which is what the British call cookies), and he is sitting across from another man and reading his paper. He take out a biscuit and starts eating it and the man across from him glares at him and gets quite upset, and then he takes out a biscuit and starts eating it, and then Doug Addams says he is getting upset. 'It's only a biscuit,' he says to himself. So, finally the man gets up, takes his paper and leaves and underneath Adams sees his biscuits there. He was eating the other man's biscuits. I also like the bands they had for JavaOne After Dark.

How would you comment to the following JavaOne criticism voiced by some attendees at JavaOne 2003-05.Sun has stifled participation from competing Java/J2EE providers, including Open Source offerings/projects.Was this ever an issue for you in past years? If so, has JavaOne management repaired the situation?
Roth: BEA has generally been given a fair shot [at JavaOne]. However in many cases I believe Sun has violated the original spirit of JavaSoft and have done things to Java that are in Sun's best interest but are an anathema to the founding mothers and fathers of Java. As an example, I would say the use of Oracle TopLink as a reference implementation for the EJB 3 work is morally abhorrent to me as an original Java-softy.

John Crupi, CTO, JackBe(and Sun distinguished engineer and while at Sun co-author of the Core J2EE Patterns)

What are you most looking forward to at this year's JavaOne?
Crupi: I'm most looking forward to learning more about the unique solutions created when combining the power of AJAX and SOA.

What would you most like to see/hear about at JavaOne, that you're not sure you WILL see?
Crupi: That Java goes opensource and Sun joins OpenAjax

How do you expect this year's JavaOne will impact your company's IT plans in 2006?
Crupi: JavaOne is a great source of the "pulse" of the enterprise IT world. You can get a good sense of what the developer/IT community cares about and what they are less interested in.

How do you expect this year's JavaOne will impact your own career opportunities in 2006?
Crupi: I hope the Java community sees the amazing potential of AJAX.

As a long-time JavaOne attendee, what trends in JavaOne have you found most valuable or entertaining?
Crupi: The software vendor parties keep getting better ;) I like that I see more software vendors popping up who provide higher level solutions based on Java. Such as BPEL, rules engines, grid, SOA, ESB, etc.

What is your favorite memory from all the JavaOnes you've ever attended?
Crupi: My favorite JavaOne memory would have to be when I spoke alongside of my colleagues, Deepak Alur and Danny Malks, to a crowd of more than 5000 attendees at a Core J2EE Patterns session. It looked and felt like a sea of people.

How would you comment to the following JavaOne criticism voiced by some attendees at JavaOne 2003-05.Sun has stifled participation from competing Java/J2EE providers, including Open Source offerings/projects.Was this ever an issue for you in past years? If so, has JavaOne management repaired the situation?
Crupi: I think Sun has done a tremendous job in opening up JavaOne to software partners, competitors and especially the opensource community. The opensource community represents (as it should) a significant portion of JavaOne.

Yash Talreja, Senior Vice President - Products & Technology Edgenet Inc.

What are you most looking forward to at this year's JavaOne?
Talreja: I am looking forward to hearing success stories about scalable and robust implementations on the J2EE platform—one of our J2EE based deployment at a Fortune 50 customer is projected to exceed the transaction volumes at large eCommerce players like Amazon.com in a couple of years.

I am also looking forward to learn about advances in cross device application development, i.e. same code base which can run w/o much modification on a hand held device (Palm or Pocket PC or a laptop).

How do you expect this year's JavaOne will impact your company's IT plans in 2006?
Talreja: It could impact it in a significant way depending upon what I learn. If I discover some novel technologies which could radically change the business proposition we offer to our customers (we are an ISV). I am especially interested in tools and technologies which help monitor or achieve successful large scale deployments which can stay up 24 X 7. I am also interested in tools and technologies which could assist us in "porting" our applications to handheld devices.

How do you expect this year's JavaOne will impact your own career opportunities in 2006?
Talreja: Keeping up to date with the latest technologies and trends always has a positive impact on one's career, especially when it involves a revolutionary technology like Java. That said, I am happy in my current job and not looking at a change right now.

As a long-time JavaOne attendee, what trends in JavaOne have you found most valuable or entertaining?
Talreja: I liked the extension of the conference into late evening/ night. The BoF sessions are really useful and make efficient use of the time a person is in town since there is not much to do in the evening. I also really like the way JavaOne recognize its Alumni and gives them special distinction.

What is your favorite memory from all the JavaOnes you've ever attended?
Talreja: My favorite memory was unexpectedly meeting an old friend, Sharon Liu, who is now a senior manager at Sun as a presenter in 2004. We had worked with each other 10 years back at Oracle where both of us were at individual contributor level. Both of us had significantly progressed in our career since then, she was now a Senior Manager at Sun and was presenting on Java security, I had moved out of area and was a VP of Engg at a startup.

How would you comment to the following JavaOne criticism voiced by some attendees at JavaOne 2003-05.Sun has stifled participation from competing Java/J2EE providers, including Open Source offerings/projects.Was this ever an issue for you in past years? If so, has JavaOne management repaired the situation?
Talreja: This was never a direct issue for me but this criticism does not surprise me. It is obvious that JavaOne conference, like many other processes and deliverables associated with Java are controlled by Sun, and Sun participants gets a disproportionately higher number of presentations.

I think Sun Microsystems needs to make up its mind—it can either treat java as a Sun licensed and controlled platform, or give it to a neutral body to maintain, while still maintaining the IP rights and early revenue stream.

What do you think JavaOne needs to do to go another 5 years, or even re-capture some of the early excitement?
Talreja: Given the increasing diversity of applications and the global users the Java platform serves, I believe that the JavaOne conference needs to break up into JavaMany conferences both from a geographical as well subject point of view. II see the need for repeating and/or alternating JavaOne conferences across the country and across the world.

For example, I believe that the number of Java developers and innovators in India, China and rest of Asia now exceed number of Java developers in US. Similarly, there are many Java developers in the East coast and Europe as well. Similarly, I see a need to have focused, shorter conferences on J2EE, J2ME etc. Sun is already doing that with the NetBeans day, which is targeted towards a specific set of audiences.

Michael Cote, Analyst RedMonk

What are you most looking forward to at this year's JavaOne?
Cote: I haven't kept a close watch on Mustang as I'd like to, so I'm looking to take the chance to catch up. In my new role as an industry analyst with RedMonk, I pay a lot more attention to the ecosystems around technologies, like Java, so I'm also looking forward and checking out the general state of the Java ecosystem in an offline state. Also, I've gotten to know many more people online since last I want (3 years ago, I believe), so I'm looking forward to catching up with people.

How do you expect this year's JavaOne will impact your company's IT plans in 2006?
Cote: I'm hoping that there's some vigorous debating between dynamic languages, Java, and what the Java community should do about the popularity of dynamic languages. That's the pet trend I'm most curious about: if and how the various Java thought leaders address that issue will further set the tone for that discussion in 2006.

How do you expect this year's JavaOne will impact your own career opportunities in 2006?
Cote: Well, since I'm an industry analyst now, my part in all this is a lot more interactive and out-reaching then when I was a developer. So, JavaOne is about consuming information, but more so engaging with people to not only get to know folks, but to see if there's any advice or help my firm and I could give them. I'm also eager to meet up with any DrunkAndRetired.com podcast listeners out there and record some episodes.

As a long-time JavaOne attendee, what trends in JavaOne have you found most valuable or entertaining?
Cote: I always liked the generalized design and work advice. If I was interested in a technology, like JXTA, the pertinent sessions were interesting. It's great when there's a "track" for such information that covers the technology and then brings in people to go over how they've used the technology.

What is your favorite memory from all the JavaOnes you've ever attended?
Cote: I always enjoy seeing Josh Bloch and Neal Gafter.

What do you think JavaOne needs to do to go another 5 years, or even re-capture some of the early excitement.
Cote: I'm not sure if they do podcasts now, but it'd be great to see them done in real time, perhaps with the help of IT Conversations. I'd also like to see more user-driven, ad hoc planning a la barcamp introduced. I wouldn't want all of the conference to be run like that at all, but it'd be great to see several "open sessions" where the audience could drive with a little cat-herding from the "speakers."

How would you comment to the following JavaOne criticism voiced by some attendees at JavaOne 2003-05.Sun has stifled participation from competing Java/J2EE providers, including Open Source offerings/projects.Was this ever an issue for you in past years? If so, has JavaOne management repaired the situation?
Cote: I have no idea if they've repaired any criticisms since I don't follow JavaOne chatter too closely and haven't been in 3 years.

The best way to address such comments would be to set aside 1-2 rooms at the Moscone for an un-conference, like barcamp, and have the barcamp honchos come over and help run it. You'd also have to make attendance free for those rooms. I can't see how that'd harm the over-all conference: at worst, the best format would win. Java programmers have no problem with transparent meritocracies. Personally, I like both formats, so I wouldn't want to see one win out over the other. But, if the people want lower barriers to entry and broader participation, introducing a mini-unconference is the way to go.

Rob Weaver, Architect / Owner, of AccuWeaver LLC

What are you most looking forward to at this year's JavaOne?
Weaver: I'm mostly interested in the cool new things that people are doing with Java. For me it's about networking and getting my creative juices recharged. I'll be interested to see how Jonathan Schwartz "promotion" is played up (or down) in the keynotes.

How do you expect this year's JavaOne will impact your company's IT plans in 2006?
Weaver: From what I've seen in the past, JavaOne helps me to understand the technology roadmap, which helps shape decisions on where to invest our development dollars. I get inspired with ideas derived from the visionary sessions, and seeing how some new technology might be applied to problems I am seeing at the companies I serve.

How do you expect this year's JavaOne will impact your own career opportunities in 2006?
Weaver: I think the largest help in my career that JavaOne provides now is in helping me build and maintain my technology network. It also makes me more effective in guiding technology decisions, since I have some insight into where the big players are going with Java. I usually come away from JavaOne (exhausted) with a few fantastic ideas, and I expect a few of these will impact the work I am doing next year.

As a long-time JavaOne attendee, what trends in JavaOne have you found most valuable or entertaining?
Weaver: The things that I have found valuable have been different each year. The first year I attended, I was a Java newbie, and was able to learn enough to become a Java developer. Additional years truly helped me in moving my career from developer to architect to company owner. Over the years I have been able to glean technical knowledge, insight on directions from the big Java players, and valuable development lessons from fellow attendees.

What is your favorite memory from all the JavaOnes you've ever attended?
Weaver: I don't think I can narrow it to a single event, but I guess it would have to be meeting people like James Gosling. The first couple of years, the "fireside chat" was actually a real fireside chat, where people like James Gosling would sit and talk with us.



Last year I actually got to meet James again on the exhibit hall floor, shake his hand, and thank him for creating something that keeps so many of us employed. I also ribbed him about having come to so many JavaOne conferences and never having caught a T-shirt, and he promptly told his assistant to mail me one (which I now have).



My other favorite JavaOne was when I got chosen as a speaker and was able to present. The best part of that were the conversations after the talk, where I sat and exchanged ideas on developing with open source frameworks with people who had been listening.



How would you comment to the following JavaOne criticism voiced by some attendees at JavaOne 2003-05.Sun has stifled participation from competing Java/J2EE providers, including Open Source offerings/projects.Was this ever an issue for you in past years? If so, has JavaOne management repaired the situation?
Weaver: I haven't ever had any problem with Sun's method of competition. Most of the open source projects I have used over the years have been well built software solutions that wouldn't compete with anything that Sun could offer anyway. In the few areas where Sun does compete with open source, I don't think Sun has stifled competition, but instead they've added to the quality of what is being produced. I think Sun has moved pretty quickly to answer concerns like the Java certification and access to the verification kit.



For instance, I use NetBeans (as I have for many years) because it has everything I need to do development work. I think the other IDE's have become much better because of Sun's continued innovation.

What do you think JavaOne needs to do to go another 5 years, or even re-capture some of the early excitement?
Weaver: I think Java has become so big, that it may be time to separate some of the facets into their own events. I know a lot about Java, and I am constantly amazed at the constant expansion of the J-something standards that I don't know about (or usually even know what the acronym stands for).



The early JavaOne conferences were exciting because they had a nice mix of intros, roadmaps, educational sessions, and technology deep dives. The last few years the sessions have seemed to be much more for an audience of experienced Java technologists or IT managers, and less on helping somebody make sense of the J-alphabet.



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