Put on your tech specs: Amazon Web Services has joined the Java Community Process

Amazon has made another effort to be a good citizen of Java by joining brewing masters in the Java Community Process (JCP), the group that develops specifications for the Java platform.

The company's latest move was mentioned by Amazon Yishai Galatzer, manager of the AWS artifact and language group at AWS, on Tuesday. The Galatzer team, of course, builds Amazon Corretto, an OpenJDK distribution.

OpenJDK is a Java open source implementation licensed under GPL v2 and presented in collaboration with Oracle, Java owners, which uses the OpenJDK code in its own Oracle JDK. Since April 2019, Oracle JDK is not free for commercial use, for versions 9 and higher, a change that has increased interest in OpenJDK.

Galatzer says "we are increasing our investment in OpenJDK", and refers to the contribution of the cryptography provider Amazon Corretto 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 joins 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 controversial issue. Some open source companies see cloud providers as a threat because they make a company provide services driven by open source software, without giving much back to the creators and administrators of that software. In some cases, open source projects have adopted new, more restrictive licenses 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 itself constitutes a business model is not well supported by the evidence."

Rather, "operational excellence," as AWS offers. It's a good proven business. He remembers working for Sun when he acquired the MySQL open source database, but failed to get Twitter to pay for MySQL support even though they "depended existentially on this technology." Bray's post reads like a kind of apology for the way AWS uses open source.

This tension in the open source community means that whatever AWS can do to earn praise is good for public relations. That said, it also makes perfect sense that AWS, as a great Java user, aspires to have a greater voice on how the platform advances. ®

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