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And what’s the direction with Java NOW?

Last week the world was surprised with the announcement that Oracle will buy Sun Microsystems. The message even made it to the regular news, so my wife knew when I came home. But what she did not know was that this actually could influence my life, as my job mainly is about Java at SAP.

It could. But will it really? That’s of course the questions that many customers ask today also.

The spirit of SAP is not to shout out at the marketplace. However, I was asked by customers and I have the feeling that a lot of people want to have at least some statement on Java.

How will SAP proceed with it’s plans in Java? The answer for today is that there is no change whatsoever. On short and medium term we are on save turf, as of course our use of Java is based on written agreements. And this means we can and will continue with business as usual.

As you might already know Oracle is also a partner of SAP and many SAP customers run on Oracle databases for decades. Java has a large community (even larger then our ABAP community, by the way), that watches closely what happens. Yes, we’re not the only ones using Java!

If you’d like to know my private opinion, I doubt that Oracle would do any steps that hurt Java (as their own stuff is written in that language). However, you don’t need to rely on my opinion.

If Oracle decides for steps that change the situation, this certainly will be discussed. Of course this cannot happen anytime soon, as the acquisition takes at least six month and then the “Oracle Holding” has to digest it. Even though in the mean time the former software company has become an expert to do this, it takes some time.

This leaves open what to do long term. What Oracle will do with Java is speculation anyway. But independent of looking into a glass bowl let’s go through some facts about Java in the last time.

If you have an eye into the market you might have noticed that the innovation cycle with Java has slowed down since some time – a sign that the language matured and there are fewer changes and less hurdles then in it’s early days. This also means that any types of changes have a much longer lifecycle.

And there is another development worth to notice. It seems that large parts of innovation today go into scripting languages. To my personal experience scripting languages are usually not the right fit for large projects, as they are written for  the short cut solution. But together with our latest developments, like going away from programming more into modeling, the scripting comes in quite handy.

As we all know, no modeling whatsoever will be able to replace programming completely. But what it can do is to split up code into smaller pieces and therefore make scripting consumable for large projects.

At the same time, the development of virtual machines goes into the direction of supporting multi languages, as seen in the Blue Ruby approach reported on SDN Research and Innovation sector (remember that ABAP has a VM too…).

Putting it all together I dare to predict that we will see a long term future that is far more language independent, leaving the question of base technology for SAP products to SAP itself and not it’s customers.

Saying this, the long term Java question becomes a question that we at SAP do the right things at the right time and you as a customer rely on us. Sounds like it is today?

But all this is just my wage prediction for things that might start five years from now. We are short before delivering Enhancement Pack 1 of NetWeaver Composition Environment with lots of new BPM (Business Process Management) features. And all of this is written in Java and has really cool features. If I had the slightest doubt this will become a success because it’s in Java, I’d be already out of the door.

(edited on May 1st 19:15 CET to add some information)

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  • Hi Benny,
    Thanks for this great blog, and the interesting observation that increasing language-agnosticism is indeed not only a trend among developers, but also among virtual machines and platforms in general.
    The more we model, the more our software is fully and comprehensibly described in XML languages, the more our coding language becomes an implementation detail that can even be changed relatively late.
    So we can keep cooler about this than we would have a few years ago.
  • With:
    * Shai, the great Java evangelist, leaving SAP
    * SAP investing more heavily in ABAP than Java at the moment
    * SAP rewriting Java apps (e.g. ESS) in ABAP
    * Java in the hands of SAPs biggest competitor
    * Oracle not having the reputation of keeping not-so-profitable units alive

    I'm afraid that I indeed still have concerns about the future of SAP's and Oracle's Java support and the quite serious investments that were made in terms of Java education and development by SAP's customers and partners.

    • a few comments:

      * SAP investing more heavily in ABAP than Java at the moment

      How do you know? Avctually yes, we've increased investment into ABAP. But at the same time we prepare for NetWeaver 7.20, and in short time will come out with BPM stuff that is fully written in Java.

      * SAP rewriting Java apps (e.g. ESS) in ABAP

      Yes, we finally have to admit that running the same app on two different technologies at the same time was not the best of all ideas.

      >concerns about the future of SAP's and Oracle's Java support

      You may stay with ABAP (as I assume you always did). It ran, it runs, and it will run a long time in future- as by the way, I always said...

      >serious investments that were made in terms of Java education and development by SAP's customers and partners.

      All those investments are still supported and will be for a long time also. No end in sight.

      By the way, this and the next week I spend with SAP partners who are here at Walldorf for testing future  versions of NetWeaver Java. An ongoing investment in Java for both of us...


  • Hi,
    We started hearing rumors that WD for Java will go away and will be replaced by WD for ABAP. Somewhere down the line SAP will stop supporting WD for Java. Please tell what SAP is thinking on this line. whehter we should stop suggesting our customers WD based applications/approach.
    • Hello Manoj,
      the truth is that some applications formerly written in WD for Java and are part of ABAP applications are rewritten in WD for ABAP, as we found such technology mix is no good for anybody. There is no plan to stop Web Dynpro for Java. It's alive and you can use it and recommend to your customers.