For a relatively ‘new’ development language, Java is already more than 26 years old this year and has steadily grown to become one of the most popular application languages in the world of cloud-based and embedded computing devices.
From humble beginnings, James Gosling’s brainchild at Sun Microsystems is today the number one programming language and developer choice for cloud, despite being a relatively new entrant in the cloud space. However, with more than 25 billion active cloud-based Java virtual machines globally, according to recent research from Oracle and VDC2, and cloud adoption set to explode by more than 300 percent in Africa alone as a result of the Covid pandemic, Java usage can expect a similar spike in the coming years.
But what is it about this now ubiquitous language that makes it so popular?
For one, it’s a very accessible language, with the same featherlight footprint that made it ideal for distributed use in the early days of the mid-1990s World Wide Web. Java has been the backbone for almost every new innovation in the open-source community since it was first released as a free and open-source (FOSS) platform by Sun in 2006. Today, Java has evolved along with other integrated development environments like Eclipse.
Java is the core ingredient in many other development environments and frameworks that proliferate as distributed services and standalone applications for some of the world’s most prominent web-based and enterprise organisations. One example is the Spring Framework, developed in 2002 as a Java application framework. In 2018, global streaming giant Netflix announced its decision to use Spring Boot – a solution for creating stand-alone, production-grade Spring-based applications – as its core Java framework, which has now become the preferred way for the Netflix developer community to adopt Netflix’s open-source software2.
The new world of Java is all about cloud adoption, which itself is the new world of enterprise IT. There are only two types of companies today: those already invested in the cloud, and those preparing for cloud migration. Java is at the core of this movement, with all three major cloud platforms – Microsoft, Google and Amazon – using Java in different ways to build new tools, services and applications for their enterprise customers. Microsoft’s Azure Cloud, for example, uses Azure Spring Cloud to run and deploy Microsoft services in minutes, and to build end-to-end cloud-based solutions out the box. Microsoft has also started migrating many of its legacy systems and services to the cloud using this technology.
Java is much more than just another programming language. It’s an evolving mantra that runs some of the world’s most prominent and profitable cloud-based services, the leading language for DevOps, AI, VR, Big Data, Continuous Integration, Analytics, Mobile, Chatbots, and Social, and the number one development language for microservices in embedded devices.
This affords organisations great choice in terms of technical solutions but also significant challenges in the need for Java expertise that can advise on migrations, re-platforming and architectural migrations all within the Java environment. Not to mention that once the roadmap is established, it is essential to find mature Java teams that have the skills and experience to execute the plan. Fortunately, organisations have the opportunity to tap into the global pool of talent given the dramatic shift to remote work (work from home) and use of remote staff / team augmentation.
The new world of Java will cement the popularity of the language as it touches every aspect of our computing and connected lives, from the applications we use to communicate, to the banking systems we use to transact. It will also herald a new demand for Java-based software development skills, and a heightened awareness of the many possibilities and opportunities companies can use to make their Java services and applications more streamlined and competitive.
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