Intervista ad Arun Gupta (GlassFish evangelist @ Sun Microsystems)

Un'altra intervista esclusiva targata JUG Sicilia: Arun Gupta


Arun Gupta è GlassFish evangelist presso Sun Microsystems. Si interessa anche di web services ed ha fatto, e fa, parte di diversi expert group facenti capo al Java Community Process.

Di seguito il testo integrale dell'intervista:
Mario:
Hi Arun,
I've already interwieved other your colleagues (Sang Shin and Roman Strobl) and that's the ceremony question: have you ever been to Sicily? :-)

Arun:
Not yet, but would very much like to visit one day. I've been to other parts of Italy (Rome, Milan and Pisa) and truly enjoyed them.

Mario:
Another mandatory question: what do you think about JUGs?

Arun:
In short, JUGs are really informative & cool!

They are one of the most widely adopted grassroots efforts to spread the Java technology across the planet. It's really hard to provide an accurate count because they are all distributed but it's probably in the range of high hundreds. And then some JUGs have huge subscribers - for example DFJUG has approx 28,000 developers. That shows how widespread they are. JUGs not only provide a wealth of information from a variety of speakers but also a great networking opportunity. And sometimes free food and giveaways make them more attractive ;-)

I remember attending my first JUG meeting many years ago. The entire experience was pretty involved and I was still thinking about it while driving back. Guess what - almost jumped the traffic light right in front of a cop.

Mario:
What are you currently working on?

Arun:
I'm responsible for evangelism of GlassFish. This is an interesting role cause it allows me to wear multiple hats - it's a combination of engineering, sales, marketing, mingling with community and cheer leading.

As an engineer, it requires me to stay up-to-date on technology and follow the latest trends. It also requires me to try our products, read our docs, follow the instructions and many other tasks from a completely external user perspective to ensure that all the great engineering effort is conveyed appropriately to the world and is usable. I have published numerous articles, screencasts, papers that provide solutions to common issues that a developer may face. The basic essence is to feel the developer's pain before they do. You can read all about them at http://blogs.sun.com/arungupta which has more than 600 entries now.

Wearing a sales and marketing hat, I talk to customers about GlassFish and hear their feedback. This role builds upon the engineering hat and allows me to discuss customer needs in depth. These discussions typically involve developers who are responsible for implementing the project to the actual decision makers such as CIO/CTO. And so it's important to know the big picture to provide a complete solution.

Mingling with the community is a very important aspect cause it allows to share our architecture, strategy, roadmap to a targeted set of audience and receive instant feedback. I travel world wide and present at different conferences to meet that objective.

Cheer leading, first your self and then the audience, is an obvious requirement along with all the different roles mentioned above.

Mario:
Tell me about your past experiences on Java related technologies.

Arun:
I've been working on Java since 1996 and it's been a fun experience. Over a period of time both the Java language and platform has improved tremendously and matured. Features like annotations give a new meaning to ease-of-use and generics add a different level of power. The Java platform is much more robust as it allows other non-Java languages such as JavaScript or Ruby to run on it and much faster. For example, JRuby is Java interpreter for Ruby language and is actually faster than the native (C-based) interpreter in some cases.

I've been with the Web services since it's inception (almost 7 years) and it's definitely exciting to see interoperable Web services growing from primitive types to Secure, Reliable, Transactional and .NET 3.0 interoperable Web service provide by Metro.

One big difference from the past is the amount/quality of tools that are available to make Java development a pleasant experience. I rely heavily on NetBeans for my day-to-day work and it seems to serve my needs most of the times. If it does not, then I file a bug or pester the engineers :)

Mario:
Why are there so many good developers from India around the world?

Arun:
Computers was not a mainstream profession in India until 20 years ago. It met a lot of resistance when it was introduced that time because of number of people who will get unemployed because of the efficiency achieved. But slowly Indian population realized the importance of computers and then all big universities started offering Bachelors and Masters in Computers. Over a period of time, the smaller universities and several independent institutes played "Follow The Leader" game and started offering similar courses, literally on an exponential curve. In my opinion, it's mostly the availability of several venues that graduate students in Computer Science and related streams that has led to the vast number of Indian developers.

Another reason is that English is taught as a main language starting even from pre-school. This allows students to develop a good control over English language from the very beginning. The majority of reading material available in bookstores or online is in English and that exposes Indians to a wealth of information.

Mario:
What do you think about the current and future evolution of GlassFish?

Arun:
GlassFish has already evolved over the past few years and continuous evolution is an distinctive feature. v1 was released in 2006 with focus on Java EE 5 compliance. v2 was released in Sep 2007 with focus on enterprise grade features such as High Availability, Clustering, .NET 3.0 interoperability, Centralized Administration and other similar features. The 3 words that describe v2 are - Fast, Easy and Reliable. GlassFish v3 Technology Preview 2 was released in May 2008 and builds upon the experience and strengths of v1 & v2. The 3 words that describe v3 are - modularity, extensiblity and embedability. It is modular as it is based on OSGi framework, extensible as other non-Java applications such as Rails can be deployed as well. It is embeddable as it can run inside a VM and that opens up lots of possibilities.

You can track the evolution at http://blogs.sun.com/theaquarium.

Mario:
Do you think it will reach other J2EE/JavaEE application servers on production enviroments in future?

Arun:
GlassFish is already used in production in many different different industries. All the known GlassFish deployments are documented at:

http://blogs.sun.com/stories/

Each blog entry explains the deployment environment of customers. It is also accompanied by a detailed questionnaire where each customer talks about the strengths of GlassFish. Send an email to stories@sun.com and help us collect more of them.

GlassFish ecosystem is growing rapidly with 4.5 million downloads in 2007, 100k registrations and over 7000 community members.

Mario:
What do you think are points of strenghtness of GlassFish compared to other open source application servers like Jboss?

Arun:
There are several distinguishing features:

1). Java EE 5 compliance - GlassFish is the Reference Implementation of Java EE 5 and so provides a fully specification-compliant implementation of JAX-WS, JAXB, EJB 3.0 and JPA 1.0 that allows you build a truly portable application. JBoss is not Java EE 5 compliant yet.

2). Performance - GlassFish reported SPECjAppServer2004 numbers in 2007 where we outperformed BEA, Oracle and IBM's app server. JBoss never submitted the results. And we improved in areas not covered by the benchmark such as Web services, EJB 3.0, JSF and JPA. In all, GlassFish is the fastest Open Source application server. Open Source and Production-quality are not mutually exclusive and GlassFish has proven that well.

3). Administration - GlassFish comes with a browser-based administration user interface and CLI (asadmin). The browser-based interface provides graphical representation of the objects under management, enhanced log file viewing, and better display of overall system status and monitoring data. The CLI provides a comprehensive utility to perform all administrative operations and can be easily scripted as well. The script even provides suggestion if an incorrect command is typed. JBoss comes with a dump of JMX beans with interpretation left to wizards.

4). .NET 3.0 interoperability - GlassFish comes with Metro - one stop shop for all Web services needs. Metro is a complete Web services stack that allows to create a simple Hello World Web service to a Secure, Reliable, Transactional and .NET 3.0 interoperable Web service. A heterogeneous environment is a common reality for any data center and Metro enables you to build business solutions seamlessly without worrying about SOAP data formats and WSDL intricacies.

5). Seamless integration with NetBeans - NetBeans provides complete development of Java EE 5 compliant applications - EJBs, Java Persistence Units, JAX-WS Web services - all through wizards. All of these artifacts can be directly deployed on GlassFish, directly from within NetBeans. NetBeans IDE shows/manages all the applications deployed to GlassFish. NetBeans also provides local and remote debugging of GlassFish. In all, a seamless integration with NetBeans allows users to live in a completely Open Source world.

Mario:
Last question: your programming "must have" book.

Arun:
Google :)

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