Java and the Java Virtual Machine for cloud native applications

Java is ready for the cloud today.

By Graham Charters, Sebastian Daschner, Pratik Patel and Steve Poole
October 9, 2019

In principle, any programming language can be used to create microservices. In reality, though, there are several factors that should influence your choice of a programming language. In this article, we discuss the reasons why Java is an excellent programming language and platform for cloud native applications. The depth of the Java community’s business knowledge, the Java Virtual Machine’s (JVM) unrivaled performance with flexibility, and developer friendliness are among the reasons.

Innovation and insight

The first consideration is simply the pace of innovation, and where it is taking place. The Java community is the leader in the business applications space, and Java developers have the deepest knowledge and experience for enterprise applications. The community that created Enterprise Java and has made it the de facto business platform is also the community that is leading the evolution of cloud native thinking. They are exploring all the aspects of what it means to be cloud native—whether it is serverless, reactive, or even event driven. Cloud native continues to evolve, so it’s important to keep abreast of its direction and utilize the best capabilities as they’re developed in the Java community.

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Performance and economics

Next, consider that a cloud environment has a significantly different profile from a traditional one that runs on a local server. In a cloud environment, the amount of compute resource is usually lower and, of course, you pay for what you use. That means that cloud native applications need to be frugal and yet still performant. In general, developers need runtimes that are fast to start, consume less memory, and still perform at a high level. Couple this need with cloud’s rapid evolution, and you are looking for a runtime with a pedigree of performance and innovation. The Java platform and JVM are the perfect mix of performance and innovation.

Two decades worth of improvements in performance and steady evolution have made Java an excellent general-purpose programming language. Cloud native Java runtimes like Eclipse OpenJ9 offer substantial benefits in runtime costs while maintaining maximum throughput.

Software design and cloud solutions

Finally, it’s important to understand that a modern cloud native application is more complex than traditional applications. This complexity arises because a cloud native solution operates in a world where scale, demand, and availability are significant factors. Cloud native applications have to be highly available, scale enormously, and handle wide-ranging and dynamic demand. When creating a solution, you must look carefully at what the programming language offers in terms of reducing design issues and bugs. The Java language, with its object-oriented approach and built-in memory management, helps remove problems that are challenging to analyze locally, let alone in a highly dynamic cloud environment. Java and the JVM address these challenges by enabling developers to create applications that are easier to debug, easier to share, and less prone to failure in challenging environments like the cloud.

Java in the cloud now and in the future

In this article, we’ve discussed only some of the top reasons why Java is well suited for cloud native applications. Further reasons include the massive ecosystem that has excellent developer tools, libraries for doing just about anything, and a vibrant open source community around the Java platform. Java is ready for the cloud today. For more on what’s pushing the JVM platform into the future at a rapid pace, check out our full report, Developing Open Cloud Native Microservices: Your Java Code in Action.

This post is a collaboration between O’Reilly and IBM. See our statement of editorial independence.

Post topics: Operations