Why I Left Oracle – A Confession

I will have the moral courage to make my actions consistent with my knowledge of right and wrong.
                             (See Job 27:5)
I left my job as Java EE evangelist at Oracle on March 4, 2016. If you take a look at my blog post announcing my joining Oracle a few years ago, it won’t be hard to spot my skepticism of the role of a professional evangelist and my skepticism of Oracle as a responsible steward of Java. One of the reasons I accepted the job was because of Cameron Purdy amongst a few other key folks at Sun and Oracle. I have followed Cameron’s career for a long time. He is clearly a gem in the executive ranks of our industry. He helped pioneer one of the most successful pieces of enterprise infrastructure that has stood the test of time. Yet he is humble enough to still code even in front of a keynote audience. My faith in Cameron was not unfounded. Things have been good for a while certainly in the Java EE community and most importantly inside Oracle. Then Cameron was made to leave Oracle…

The surroundings around Cameron’s departure saw my skepticism of Oracle grow exponentially. Make no mistake – this skepticism is not merely around Java standard APIs for the enterprise. It extends to Java on the desktop, browser, client, mobile, embedded and yes, even the core language runtime (this last one being the one most people get distracted focusing far too much on). Indeed the skepticism extends to Sun’s entire promising open, collaborative technology portfolio largely centered around the JCP. Whatever your actual or perceived usage and dependency on any part of this portfolio, you shouldn’t think for a moment that this doesn’t concern you (the sheer number of near-sighted, unbelievably apathetic people in our industry never ceases to amaze and confound me). This is the portfolio that has helped make us all successful for the past two decades. You can be rest assured that if this portfolio does not remain robust we probably won’t be celebrating Java’s thirty year anniversary like we celebrated it’s twenty year anniversary a few months ago.

My growing skepticism is of course independently shared by the ever vigilant Java EE community outside Oracle I have had the honor to serve. They have started to coalesce around these concerns quietly for months now. These are courageous folks I have the greatest regard for. The time is well past due I rejoined these folks in the community to help safeguard the well being of millions of Java developers worldwide and perhaps the well being of global IT itself.

Many people seem to have an impression of Oracle as a company full of corporate drones. This is far from the truth. I wasn’t, Cameron wasn’t and we are very far from being alone. This entry would not be complete without a respectful salute to these courageous folks. They will need our continued total support no matter what and they do what few others would dare or care to (now including myself). I wish the corporate drones and their masters lots of luck – they are going to need it more than ever.

As for my skepticism of professional evangelists and professional evangelism I am afraid that too remains intact but has decreased slightly over the past few years. One upshot of all of this is that I get to return to what I have found fulfilling for so many years – down-to-earth consulting in the enterprise. Having worn so many different hats now in our ever colorful industry it is the role in which I still find it the easiest to do the right thing for the right people at all times.

Home sweet home.

Published by Reza Rahman

Reza Rahman is Principal Program Manager for Java on Azure at Microsoft. He works to make sure Java developers are first class citizens at Microsoft and Microsoft is a first class citizen of the Java ecosystem. Reza has been an official Java technologist at Oracle. He is the author of the popular book EJB 3 in Action. Reza has long been a frequent speaker at Java User Groups and conferences worldwide including JavaOne and Devoxx. He has been the lead for the Java EE track at JavaOne as well as a JavaOne Rock Star Speaker award recipient. He was the program chair for the inaugural JakartaOne conference. Reza is an avid contributor to industry journals like JavaLobby/DZone and TheServerSide. He has been a member of the Java EE, EJB and JMS expert groups over the years. Reza implemented the EJB container for the Resin open source Java EE application server. He helps lead the Philadelphia Java User Group. Reza is a founding member of the Jakarta EE Ambassadors. Reza has over a decade of experience with technology leadership, enterprise architecture and consulting. He has been working with Java EE technology since its inception, developing on almost every major application platform ranging from Tomcat to JBoss, GlassFish, WebSphere and WebLogic. Reza has developed enterprise systems for well-known companies like eBay, Motorola, Comcast, Nokia, Prudential, Guardian Life, USAA, Independence Blue Cross, Anthem, CapitalOne and AAA using Java EE and Spring.

20 thoughts on “Why I Left Oracle – A Confession

  1. We left Oracle a few years back and founded Codename One. To be fair the situation wasn't much different under Sun although with the one major caveat that Sun was so badly managed that a team within was able to force the org to do the \”right thing\” by manipulating the chain of command. You can't really do that within Oracle.I generally agree with some of the sentiment although I think the situation is far worse on the desktop and horrible/non-existent on mobile.

  2. Yes, I'll most certainly be at JavaOne and other events as time permits. Community wise my biggest priority this year is finding ways to help Java EE 8 move forward. Folks should stay tuned, stay alert.

  3. There is indeed some truth to this. I do have a small customer base/local network I can rely on and luckily will be starting on a paid project shortly.I tend to think this makes it easier and perhaps even possible to contribute community work. It's hard to think about contributing if one's own financial position is not reasonably secure.

  4. Thanks very much for the thought. I am very honestly happy just doing enterprise consulting. I know it's not enough for some but it's just perfect for me!

  5. Reza,I have heard a lot of your presentations on youtube and elsewhere. It is sad to see you go. Best of luck with everything. What is your take on future of Java when it comes to adoption with new startups and mid size companies? Is it going to change given the current state of things?

  6. Thanks for your kind words.Your question is a very good one and one I have no clear answer to. As you have gathered from my post I am very worried about what Oracle is doing with many things. It all depends on how the industry reacts and steers Oracle/all parts of Java. I am working with a large group of people right now to make sure Java EE in particular is not badly derailed. All Java developers should remain alert, vocal, engaged and contribute in our own way. That's the only way we will make up any gap that Oracle continues to unfortunately create.

  7. Stay curious and stay tuned. With regards to Java EE in particular it will be much clearer shortly where I and others are coming from. As to the other areas of Java, their respective communities will need to be vigilant and vocal on their own I am afraid.

  8. Hi Reza, You visited my company about 2 years ago to evangelize the JavaEE platform. In 45 minutes you were very quickly created an application with all the enterprise requirements for success. It was an \”ah-hah\” moment for myself and my team. You are a great evangelist and an example of what this role can accomplish. Best of luck moving forward.

  9. Reza, good luck in your future endeavors. You've got to provide more facts in this post or it just comes across as sour grapes. What, specifically, should JavaEE users be worried about? You've got people paying attention. Now is there anything you can share?

  10. The very unfortunate fact is that I am not in a position to share anything more at the moment. All I can ask for is some more kind patience. More reliable facts will come to light very, very soon.Believe me it hurts me to no end that I can't share more right now,

  11. @Reza totally makes sense. I agree that we won't be celebrating the 30 year anniversary as we celebrated the 20th, but even the 20th seemed subdued to what it could have been. I agree with you that we need to rethink the idea of technology \”evangelists.\” There are good, honest ways to do this effectively, but most of the time people responsible for technology marketing and evangelism get roped into the marketing function of a business. The irony here is that a good technology evangelist is often hired because of the work they do in an open source community. The minute they start taking a paycheck from a company to pitch a product they tend to lose this credibility. I know this because it happened to me. You go from an eager open source contributor to a technology \”evangelist\” to someone who is burnt out on the political machinations that go along with the intersection of open source and commercial interest. It's tiring, and maybe a little depressing to look around at an open source conference and see that everyone there is essentially a \”sponsored driver.\”Good luck, and I'm sure you'll find something to do in 15 minutes.

  12. I salute you Reza! I'm a die-hard java developer coming from the other side of the world who cares so much about the direction of Java in the future. I admire you guys being 'guardians' of this widely loved language. We are millions and hopefully the blurry lines will get redrawn with the community as a whole making some significant contribution..and eventually we'll be celebrating the 30th year with more pride and passion!

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