Amazon has made another effort to be a good Java citizen by joining brewmasters at the Java Community Process (JCP), the group which develops specifications for the Java platform.
The firm's latest move was mentioned by Amazon's Yishai Galatzer, manager of the AWS Artifacts and Languages group at AWS, on Tuesday. Galatzer's team, of course, builds Amazon Corretto, a distribution of the OpenJDK.
The OpenJDK is an open source implementation of Java licensed under GPL v2 and presented in collaboration with Oracle, owners of Java, which uses OpenJDK code in its own Oracle JDK. Since April 2019, the Oracle JDK is not free for commercial use, for versions 9 and higher, a change which has increased interest in the OpenJDK.
Galatzer says that "we are ramping up our investment in OpenJDK," and references the company's contribution of the Amazon Corretto Crypto Provider earlier this year. It is also worth noting that James Gosling, inventor of Java, joined AWS as a Distinguished Engineer in 2017.
Now the company is joining the JCP, whose other members include (among many others) Apple, Arm, Cisco, Google, HP, IBM, Oracle, Samsung and VMware – but not Microsoft.
AWS and open source is a contentious subject. Some open source companies see cloud providers as a threat because they make a business from providing services driven by open source software, without giving much back to the creators and stewards of that software. In some cases, open source projects have adopted new more restrictive licences as a result.
Tim Bray, co-author of the original XML specification, now works at AWS. He argues in a recent blog post that "the hypothesis that Open Source in and of itself constitutes a business model is not well supported by the evidence."
Rather, "operational excellence", as offered by (you guessed it) AWS is a proven good business. He recalls working for Sun when it acquired the open source database MySQL, but failing to get Twitter to pay for MySQL support even though "they were existentially dependent on this technology." Bray's post reads like an kind of apologia for the way AWS uses open source.
This tension in the open source community means that anything AWS can do to win kudos is good for public relations. That said, it also makes perfect sense that AWS, as a big Java user, aspires to a greater say in how the platform advances. ®