GlassFish, Future and No Secret Agenda–An Interview With John Clingan, GlassFish Product Manager by Adam Bien

Adam Bien: Hi John, please introduce yourself. What is your Java background? What was your first contact with Java?

John Clingan: I am the product manager (PM) for Java EE and GlassFish Server at Oracle and Sun Microsystems before that, beginning with Java EE 5 and GlassFish v2. In the last six months I have also picked up PM responsibilities for EclipseLink, the JPA reference implementation developed in the Eclipse community, and Project Avatar, a server-side JavaScript for the JVM that supports the Node programming model. While I truly enjoy being the PM for Java EE and GlassFish (7 years now), I am enjoying the new responsibilities as a change of pace. They all keep me very busy!

Adam Bien: From Zero To A Killer Appserver. This was my perception of the early GlassFish releases. What was the major driver behind the sudden quality increase?

John Clingan: Well, in my humble (and biased ☺) opinion, GlassFish has always been and remains a high-quality product. Keep in mind that a significant portion of GlassFish source code was the result of open sourcing the Sun Java System Application Server (SJSAS). SJSAS was a mature and feature rich product in its own right, and was deployed in many business critical environments by well-known organizations. GlassFish did not have the same challenges that new open source projects typically have, like building up new features from scratch, both around core development features as well as manageability. With the exception of new Java EE 5 features in GlassFish v1, it was battle-tested from day one as an open source project.

Adam Bien: Oracle dropped the commercial support for GlassFish. Could you reveal any secrets about this decision? What was the motivation?

John Clingan: No secret agenda or ulterior motive. We have been transparent about the reasoning behind it. It was becoming increasingly difficult to justify supporting, patching, and developing production features for GlassFish when Oracle WebLogic Server already fills that need. It is not productive to invest in two products that address the same market. However, GlassFish and WebLogic Server do fill differentiated and very important roles. GlassFish continues to fulfill the role of the Java EE reference implementation and is the first to support the latest Java EE standard. This offers a means for developers to learn the latest standards until vendors follow with commercial implementations. Commercial implementations by their nature follow the Java EE standard by 6+ months due to their need to integrate with a vendors broader product portfolio. So, Oracle continues to invest in GlassFish to address the role of the reference implementation as well as a high quality and productive development environment. Oracle WebLogic Server is the preferred Oracle application server for production deployment.

Adam Bien: Nevertheless, GlassFish is still alive. Would you appreciate more community contribution, if yes in which areas?

John Clingan: Yes, contributions are always welcome and should be based on whatever developers are able contribute. As always, bug reports, bug fixes, etc are welcome. Supporting the community in the discussion forums and mailing lists is another great way to contribute. Since we are starting down the Java EE 8 path, Adopt-A-JSR will directly impact GlassFish as the RI and Java EE the standard. We also accept feature contributions.

Adam Bien: Would you appreciate commercial support from other ISVs? Could Oracle support such vendors with e.g. appearance on the homepage etc? Read the complete interview here.

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