developerWorks: I'm Scott Laningham, and this is a developerWorks podcast. This time, we're talking about the state of things with the Java programming language. I'm joined by Stephanie Martin, worldwide lead for Developer Relations, IBM Software Group, and John Andrews, president and CEO of Evans Data Corp. Now, John, I wonder if you could kick us off by talking a minute about the trends that you're seeing in the marketplace as it relates to Java.
Andrews: Sure, I'd be happy to. Since Java's inception or creation in the mid-1990s, we've seen an explosive growth curve, although in more recent times, we've seen a maturity adoption curve start to show. But at present, and most recently, research indicates that Java is being utilized by approximately 50-percent plus of all developers worldwide. So in real numbers, that's seven to 8 million developers are utilizing Java. And we're seeing it, over the next year to two years, experience probably single-digit growth between 5 and 10 percent.
In addition to that, from a mobility standpoint, one of the more exciting areas that we see in the marketplace today, about 45 percent of wireless developers are utilizing or leveraging Java. And interestingly enough, one of the most innovative sectors or geographies for wireless, the APAC region, over 50 percent of all developers in the APAC region are using Java in terms of their development efforts. And we see this growth curve actually being double-digit as we go forward, between 10 and 15 percent across the globe.
In addition to that, innovations continue to trend upward with Java given the major vendor support such as IBM®, the Suns, the BEAs, Oracle and SAPs and others.
And additionally, with open sourcing of Java under GPL, it's created another potential wave of innovation and adoption. So we see a very vibrant and growing community and marketplace for Java.
developerWorks: That's great, John. Thank you for that. Stephanie, I wonder if you could talk a bit about the momentum we're seeing from IBM's perspective in regard to the adoption of the Java.
Martin: Absolutely. It very much reflects the same things that John was saying. We're seeing a significant amount of opportunities around Java and the market demand continuing to increase for Java developers. Right now, we see more jobs available for Java developers than there are for any other language in the market. And we at IBM help these students and IT professionals develop the Java skills that they need to stay in demand and obviously maximize their earning potential. You know, with our academic initiative, we're seeing that we have trained more than 1.1 million students worldwide on Java-related technologies from IBM.
We certainly see great growth, like John was saying, abroad in the double-digit growth in the number of Java developers there and opportunities. Some examples that we have, and we have more than 4,000 companies in India that are building projects and providing services or integrating applications on the Java platform. That's a huge number, and we only see that growing further in other emerging economies.
Another example is we have more than 65 percent of IT professionals in China actively engaging in our developerWorks program to learn more about Java and open standards every day. China, as you probably know, is the third largest developer market in the world and the second-fastest growing in the world. So that adoption and the growth there is phenomenal and going to continue to have a great impact.
So these numbers, I think, alone show that Java is a pervasive language, and the adoption of Java will only continue to grow.
developerWorks: Stephanie, I was going to ask you to kind of summarize again your view of why IBM sees Java as being so important, but obviously, you're already getting into there with that answer. Is there anything more along those lines you want to mention?
Martin: Just a few things on what we're hearing from the community directly. You know, we're seeing ongoing opportunity for Java from all of our constituencies, not just the IT professionals, but also analysts like John here, students and our business partners. And the overarching theme that we're hearing is that Java is here to stay. The scalability and flexibility makes it easy to work with. And as an open language it has numerous tools available for developers to leverage in creating applications.
So the community also sees that the main benefit of Java language is the portability. You know, having an application that can run on multiple operating systems, multiple hardware platforms and be the same. It's just more cost effective for companies to run on Java, again, due to its scalability and interoperability.
developerWorks: John, there have been some things written of late, I'm sure you've read them — all of us have — about Java maybe being overemphasized in the university setting at the expense more core languages, and of course, there's always the Java vs. .NET debate. Understanding that these things aren't just apples to apples comparisons, I'm wondering if you might talk about where Java stacks up against other languages and platforms.
Andrews: Sure. Well first of all, as you said, it's not always apples to apples. And what we find in our research, and I'm sure Stephanie would share this, is most environments today are heterogeneous. Most environments are not homogeneous, and there are many different languages and platforms that could be leveraged in different ways in these environments.
As Stephanie said, Java just offers greater flexibility, greater portability. In fact, greater choice when you think about these complex environments that are being adopted and the resultant applications that are being put in place. In addition to that, as you think about Java, its flexibility across multiple levels of the application set is significant in today's world — meaning it used to be very, very strong just on the server side. Now it's very, very strong on the client side.
And now with some of the extensions that the community is making in terms of rich Internet applications where Java would play much more of a prominent role in the growth of rich Internet applications, Java again performs well in all different environments. And that's really why people like the openness, the choice. And again, it gives a very cost-effective solution and it enables developers whether they're students, hobbyists or professionals to leverage the applications that they have assembled and developed across multiple platforms and environments.
developerWorks: Do you think, John, that those issues, I mean, those qualities that you mentioned — flexibility, portability — are those the chief advantages of Java for businesses from the enterprise level all the way down to the smaller businesses? Or are there some others that you want to point out, too?
Andrews: In certain cases, we find in our research, that people point to the security around Java being better than some of the other platforms. It being better performance around what we would call robust and data-intensive applications, as well, would be a couple of other areas we would point out.
developerWorks: You know, Stephanie, I know I'd be neglecting my employer, IBM here, if I didn't ask you about some of the offerings that IBM has for Java developers. Could you talk a bit about those?
Martin: Absolutely. They're quite extensive. I mentioned earlier that IBM's academic initiatives, through that we offer IBM mentors as ambassadors to schools across the globe to teach and get curriculum into classrooms around Java-related skills and technologies. But in addition to that, we offer a vast library of resources, including tutorials, software downloads, and forums for IT professionals to collaborate and get the education that they're looking for and enable collaboration among IT professionals on Java.
So thousands of developers in more than 200 countries now visit our Java zone in developerWorks every month. And this Java traffic has grown over 34 percent in the past four years. So again, we're seeing continued growth around Java and interest in learning more. Also, developerWorks has all sorts of information on the latest development from the industry that relates to Java. For example, we have a tutorial for mastering a new Web development environment called Grails, which is similar to the up and coming language Ruby on Rails that mixes familiar Java technologies with contemporary practices.
Our goal at IBM is to make sure that we continue to educate developers and help them leverage Java as they look to take advantage of new frameworks. And the offerings that we have in developerWorks and what we're doing through the IBM academic initiative certainly are in support of that.
developerWorks: Again, Stephanie, the focus on open standards. We get asked about that often, and that really kind of goes to the core of IBM's support of Java here, doesn't it? The reason behind that.
Martin: Absolutely. I mean, open standards-based technology were the keys really to unlocking an abundance of possibilities for IT professionals. And, as we've heard from that community and our business partners and our customers, they do not want to be locked into one platform. Proprietary platforms not only limit the developer in a company from interacting and interoperating with customers and partners that aren't on the same platform, but they also limit the short and long-term potential a developer has with their application.
You know, like some of the things John was talking about specifically around the flexibility, scalability, and security options that they're going to need as they grow more, as well as limiting options for new features and architecture due to the lack of interoperability when open standards like Java are not used. There just are no restrictions with open standards. Developers have freedom, flexibility, and control over the applications they develop, and that, at the end of the day, is what we are hearing developers ask for.
developerWorks: As a closing thought here, I'd like to ask you John, from your perspective on all this, from your helicopter view, what do you see in Java's future? What's the next big trend for Java that you see coming?
Andrews: Well, I think as Stephanie indicated, it really is pervasive, and you can see across the spectrum a different opportunity set for Java's growth occurring. But probably the most interesting one today would be around devices, consumer devices — whether they're mobile or whether they're embedded. Right now, Java is in over 1.5 billion of those consumer devices, and we start to see the extension of Java from the enterprise out into the mobility space as being a fairly interesting trend and a high growth area.
But at the same time, you can't ignore what's going on within the enterprise, as well. And as Stephanie said, with the abundance of new developers coming out of the academic world, it's really hard to say that there's any area where Java is going be more pervasive than another area. Again, I mentioned on the mobility side, I mentioned the rich Internet application area as well, are high growth and exciting areas.
developerWorks: That sounds great. You know, it makes me think if the world ends up at all like futurist Ray Kurzweil talks about it, then we're all going to be wearing Java and eating Java and just about everything else, right? [LAUGHTER]
Martin: It will certainly surround us.
developerWorks: John Andrews, president and CEO of Evans Data Corp., and Stephanie Martin, worldwide lead for Developer Relations, IBM Software Group. Thank you both.
Andrews: Thank you very much.
Martin: Thanks, Scott.
developerWorks: Get more on this topic at ibm.com/developerWorks. This has been a developerWorks podcast. I'm Scott Laningham. Thanks for listening.
Scott Laningham, host of developerWorks podcasts, was previously editor of developerWorks newsletters. Prior to IBM, he was an award-winning reporter and director for news programming featured on Public Radio International, a freelance writer for the American Communications Foundation and CBS Radio, and a songwriter/musician.