Apple deprecates Java, Network Management client software goes…… where ? Call for HTML5

In the release notes for the latest OSX update, Apple has announced they will no longer develop, patch and release any more version of Java. While this is probably a response to Oracle claiming ownership of all rights ( and potential revenues ) to Java, what does this mean for Networking ? java-logo-2.png

Apple deprecates Java

As of the release of Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 3, the Java runtime ported by Apple and that ships with Mac OS X is deprecated. Developers should not rely on the Apple-supplied Java runtime being present in future versions of Mac OS X.

The Java runtime shipping in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, will continue to be supported and maintained through the standard support cycles of those products.

Whoo Hoo, at last, a chance to get free of Java on the desktop !!!

Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 3 and 10.5 Update 8 Release Notes: New and Noteworthy: “”

Impacts

It’s reasonably common among networking vendors to use Java to produce fat client interfaces to their management software using Java. Cisco has the ASDM, Cisco Security Manager client, ACE client, SDM and many more. Blue Coat has their fat client for configuring SGOS and there are many more.

So what’s going to happen to these products if Java isn’t available ?

Fundamentals

The idea behind Java was that vendors could write an interface that would run on any operating system including Linux, Windows and OSX. The reality has been that vendors actually only supported the Windows version and couldn’t actually make it work on any other platform since developers got lazy and used MS specific functions. It’s gotten better as the Mac OSX has become more popular but it’s still not great.

How many years of failure do companies need before they realise it’s time to change ?

Now it’s possible that Oracle will step and develop Java for the MAC, but that will take some time and it’s almost guaranteed to be bag full of problems for a couple of years (if previous Java experiences are any example).

The EtherealMind View

In my opinion, it’s time for Java to die. It’s time has passed and the new client platform is HTML5. After ten years of pain with Java clients, installation hassles, lack of memory, performance problems, machine restarts and general all round stupid problems, I’m more than ready for something else. ( I’ve got the same opinion of Microsoft products as well, I mean, twenty years, eight versions and they STILL haven’t got security sorted out ? Come on!)

There is no need for vendors to be using Java anymore, HTML5 offers all the capability and is proven. So I’m hoping the management software vendors take the time to develop new interfaces. Here hoping they also take the time and make investments in User Interface Design and find new ways to enhance the usability of the their applications. By Jupiter, I sure hope they do this, because so many management applications look like ass and it takes months to train newbies how to use the software and get used to their many foibles. (Hat tip to HP Networking and their “Intelligent Management Center” here: I saw their management platform recently and it’s a visual feast and it’s all HTML)

Of course, vendors could simply say that the Apple Mac’s aren’t supported, but that isn’t going to work since the overwhelming majority of IT people are using MAC. The Packet Pushers podcast stats show that forty to fifty percent of listeners are using OSX, and a lot of people are still listening at work. Therefore I would suggest that vendors are going to be forced to support OSX in the future. (Make sure you put that onto your tenders and feature requests).

The death of Java is long overdue, and I’m glad to see that Apple is helping that along. Huzzah.

Appendix

Typical distribution from the number of downloads.

  • David

    With regard to your statement on Packet Pushers Podcast listeners; where did you derive the stats for your listeners from? If you’re pulling data from iTunes users who subscribe to the podcast, are direct downloaders so limited in number that they don’t sway your statistics? I say this because I’m one of those direct downloaders – perhaps these statistics are interesting enough to warrant some mention on the next Packet Pushers Podcast?

    • http://etherealmind.com Greg Ferro

      The podcast stats are based on number of downloads from the podcast hosting company (not how they are downloaded). I’ll update the post with an image.

  • Santino RIzzo

    Good points. Another knock against Java clients is vendors often lock into only one supported release. If you upgrade your Java, their client either stops working, or becomes unsupported. This leads to a no-win situation of either not having a patched version of Java running on your machine, or not being able to use your management front-end. Currently on my Windows machine, I have to keep 3 different Java releases to use all of our tools, and all but one stopped working on my Mac long ago.

  • Sean Massey

    It’s a stretch to say most IT people are using Mac at work based solely on statistics of one podcast, especially since Windows is the king OS in business. That’s not to say that Macs aren’t used in Enterprise IT – personally, I’ve only seen Unix and storage guys using them. Without additional information such as the IP they downloaded from and the time they accessed the podcast, you cant say if it was a personal mac, a work machine running windows, or an iPhone.

    While this is a good opportunity to truly develop better GUI applications for networking products, it is bad for Mac enterprise adoption in general. There are a lot of enterprise applications written in Java. If I use one of those applications, I would have to dump Mac unless Oracle was able to quickly get a Java build out quickly for OSX.

    This could also hurt open-source on Mac as a number of applications are written in Java to be platform independent.

    • http://etherealmind.com Greg Ferro

      I surmise that Apple has walked away because Oracle is claiming ownership of Java and threatening legal action. It’s up to Oracle now to produce the client, and make it work, and invest money into it.

      That’s no so likely given that Oracle wants to make a huge profit on everything.

  • CCIE Pursuit

    While I gleefully cheer on the death of Java (I move for a public execution with the body of Java hung upside down and each of us getting to flog it to death), this bit made my head hurt:

    “Of course, vendors could simply say that the Apple Macís arenít supported, but that isnít going to work since the overwhelming majority of IT people are using MAC. The Packet Pushers podcast stats show that forty to fifty percent of listeners are using OSX, and a lot of people are still listening at work. Therefore I would suggest that vendors are going to be forced to support OSX in the future.”

    Extrapolating that the “overwhelming majority” of IT workers are rocking Macs from the download statistics of a niche podcast (and then blindly guessing that a significant portion of these listeners are downloading on work machines) is a logical and statistical fail. I would venture that the “overwhelming majority” of IT workers are using whichever OS their employer allows them to use. The last time I checked, Windows was still far and away the most popular business OS.

    I would love for this to be the death blow to Java, but I think that it’s probably a mere flesh wound. I believe that more vendors will be moved to HTML5 because they don’t want to take the chance of being beholden to Oracle than because Apple is no longer developing Java in their OS.

    • http://etherealmind.com Greg Ferro

      If Oracle thinks there is money in Java, then they will develop an OSX version of Java. That’s a big if IMHO since there isn’t much money in Java. The outcome remains to be seen.

      Secondly, 40% is an overwhelming majority for this use case. The simple fact that 40% of people have a MAC AT ALL should be a striking statistics since MAC market share is estimated at 10%. And that 40% are probably the ones who make the decisions to buy network management software and ask the vendors for product features.

      Your point is valid, but not taking into account the preponderance of Apple in an industry that is supposed to Microsoft only. That’s the striking fact, IT people are not using Windows if they have a choice.

      • Chris Buechler

        Majority is defined as “the greater part or number; the number larger than half the total” How 40% is a majority, much less an overwhelming one where Windows has a larger share, I’m not sure. Given the standardization of Windows cross-enterprise at most companies, I would be surprised if the number of network admins running Windows on their office desktop is less than the typical average of Windows hosts, ~90%. I’d bet almost as many run Linux as OS X. Independent consultants who can pick their own systems, as well as people who work at atypical companies like Google, are enough to get probably 10% non-Windows.

        Case in point – VMware gives you no option to manage any of its enterprise products from OS X (short of running Windows in Parallels or Fusion). If anywhere even close to a majority of IT people were running OS X on their work machines, even half of the percentage by download stats you’re showing, they couldn’t get away with that.

        • http://etherealmind.com Greg Ferro

          Yeah, the VMware thing is a pain. However, I run Windows in an emulator which provides a more reliable platform for using Windows.

          Certainly, most VMware engineers that I know are using MACs with Vmware Fusion to run Windows. This way they can have many versions of the client installed for different customers.

  • Ian Triggs

    In all my years working in IT I’ve only seen Macs used by some graphic design people in a marketing department, at one company. 2 Macs out of probably 10-20,000 machines. Your fanboyism is getting in the way of decent blogging.

    On the topic of Java, I’d also like to see it go away for network management applications. I think it will go that way over time but it won’t be because of anything Macs have done (and then will be Mac Java clients for a long time to come). Java does do a lot of important things on our desktops and phones and it would be sad to see it go. It’s a great language.

    Also interesting to note is that HTML5 relies pretty heavily on Javascript :-)

    • http://etherealmind.com Greg Ferro

      You must work somewhere odd. Another example, VMworld two weeks in Copenhagen at the bloggers table, 4 out of 5 people using MACs – and this includes those bloggers based in America.

      Regardless, the stats speak clearly, 40% of podcast subscribers are using MACs. It’s the same for every episode and given that Apple is supposed to have less 10% market share, that is a serious deviation and confirms my thinking that many IT people have switched to using MAC.

    • http://etherealmind.com Greg Ferro

      Oh, and I should point out that JavaScript is VERY different from Java. JavaScript is part of the web browser (Safari / Chrome etc) and not part of the OS.

      Java is an runtime language used for applications and environments – its’ kind of similar but not the same thing at all.

      • Ian Triggs

        Yeah I know it’s very different, I just thought it would make a funny side note :-)

        Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Java still has a place in the HTML5 world, only time will tell I guess.

        A quick google search shows me that enterprise penetration for Macs is at about 3%. 4 out of 5 bloggers on a Mac doesn’t really represent the networking world, as they’re bloggers dealing with websites. Most network engineers are subject to the choices of their workplace, which is over 90% Windows based.

        By the way, I’m a big fan of your podcasts and site Greg and I hope you keep up the good work :-)

    • Jason Gurtz

      The only thing Netscape’s Javascript (for many years now the name is actually ECMAScript) has in common with Sun’s natch Oracal’s Java is part of its name. Well, I guess an ALGOL derived syntax may count too, tho even that differs.

      I won’t go into the many differences, but I’ll point out one fundamental difference. Java uses the JRE (virtual hardware), which runs a compiled intermediate language, standard Java byte code. ECMAScript is typically interpreted and uses whatever interpreter is available; although some browser interpreters may have compile on the fly optimization, there is no standard IL.

      For the love of all that is good can people please end the meme of Javascript being somehow related to Java.

      • http://etherealmind.com etherealmind

        Sigh, yes people. Java and Javascript are not remotely the same thing.

    • Oliver Gorwits

      “in all my years I’ve never seen…” etc.

      My previous workplace had a team of five network engineers and another three CERT guys and we all moved to Apple over the past four years as our workstations were refreshed (even the die hard Solaris user).

      I’m not a software developer. My workstation is an SSH, email and web client and not much more. I spend most time managing information (documentation, designs, device configs, etc), and for this the combination of GUI and terminal is all I need. Linux is okay until you want to do something simple like add a 2nd monitor. Windows and Putty would also do fine but the Mac is slicker.

      I think more and more network people are seeing it this way; they just want to get on with the work and have the workstation provide as little resistance to that as possible.

  • http://www.staticnat.com Josh O’Brien

    JAVA DIE! I”m in full agreement. I have not liked Java Implementations of management since Console One for Novell. HTML 5 is the right way to go I think. Funny how some places are dragging their feet on its adoption.

    I wanted to mainly comment on the Apple Fan Boy comments. While I agree that 4 out of 5 blogger’s does not accurately define the overall market share for Apple products I do think that is shows the trend of where that platform is heading. I was 100% against any apple product until they released their first Intel based platforms. When that happened I took a risk and purchased a Macbook. I never wanted to go back! Initially I used Parallels to to run XP then Fusion. Then one day I dropped the thing off a ladder while doing a site survey. When I got it back up and running I never went back to running Fusion. I setup dual boot for Visio and that was all I needed. I thought it would take forever to spin up on it and it simply did not.

    As for the Enterprise Market share I am stuck back in that world. My company does not use Apple products nor do any of my 100+ large customers. However every single day I see more MacBooks in these environments being used by Technical staff. They are purchasing them on their own and then using them for anything that their companies will permit. Some that is as simple a meeting laptops but for others it is for full systems management. It is also interesting to see that when working with Cisco SEs and other Staff the % of PC to Apple notebooks is shifting rapidly. A year ago the first apples adopters struggled in presentations and such to make it all work. Today most of my Cisco presentations are coming from Macs and are seamless.

    All of this does not even account for the adoption of the iPAD into the Enterprise market. Where I sit now in a 100% lenovo shop the floor I am on has more than 30 iPADs being used for documentation and note taking. Corporately they are considering it as a platform for many different services. Cisco and other vendors have seen the value in the iOS products and are actively developing and enabling development around it as we have seen with VPN and UCS management Clients. All this could change as the adoption of Android tablets and Cius take hold but I am guessing that Apple will continue to take enterprise ground on both the System and Tablet space for quite awhile.

    All this said the only Apple Products I currently own are my iPOD, and an eMAC as a kitchen computer at home. Reason being is that my purchase priorities are elsewhere. I would rather be using a Mac for work but the cost is personally prohibitive at this moment. As for the iPAD I would love to have one but with Android tablets comming soon with more features and and open platform I will probably follow the path I did with my phone (HTC Incredible) and stay Android. So not a sold out fan boy but I see the value and see why so many people are moving to the Apple side of the room.