On August 3, IBM released our IBM Semeru Runtimes : OpenJDK class libraries combined with the Eclipse OpenJ9 Java Virtual Machine (JVM). In the last few years, the Java ecosystem has seen an explosion of different OpenJDK distributions, so you could easily be wondering: why does the world need another one?
There’s a short answer to that question and a long answer. If you’re in a rush, the short answer is that the IBM Semeru Runtimes are currently the only binary JDK distribution that gives you no cost access to OpenJDK class libraries powered by the Eclipse OpenJ9 JVM. For cloud based workloads, OpenJ9 and therefore the IBM Semeru Runtimes can help you reduce deployment costs . Importantly, these runtimes can be used with WebSphere Liberty and OpenLiberty for a cost-effective combination you just can’t beat!
The longer answer starts with a bit of a history lesson, because IBM has been helping to build the Java ecosystem for longer than you probably realize. Since it became one of the first Java licensee back in 1996, eleven years before the OpenJDK project was created, IBM has been helping to make Java successful: longer than almost any other company.
Over our 25 year history with Java, we’ve worked with and built ourselves several Java runtime products and Java JIT compiler technologies, all productized for use by both our customers and our extensive set of IBM software products that run on Java. And that’s not just for mainframes or POWER/AIX platforms as some people assume. Yes, we’ve always ensured that Java runs well on our platforms, but IBM Java-based software, for example WebSphere Application Server, has been running on Linux X86, Windows, and macOS platforms for decades. The J9 Java Virtual Machine technology we built has to run well across all of these platforms because our customers rely upon it.
In 2017, IBM committed to an open source first strategy for our Java runtimes by: 1) contributing our J9 Java Virtual Machine technology to the Eclipse Foundation (now Eclipse OpenJ9), 2) strengthening our commitment to the OpenJDK class libraries, and 3) helping to start and grow AdoptOpenJDK as a place where the Java community could openly collaborate to produce and validate the quality of OpenJDK binaries across a wide variety of platforms and with a choice of open source JVM options.
Four years later, AdoptOpenJDK is the largest single provider of JDK binaries. As a reflection of that success and out of a sense of responsibility to the community it now underpins, AdoptOpenJDK is migrating to the Eclipse Foundation to become Eclipse Adoptium . Eclipse Adoptium continues on the path set by AdoptOpenJDK to bring high quality JDK binaries to a variety of different platforms. But unfortunately, it will no longer be able to provide a choice of open source JVM options . Instead, Eclipse Adoptium will itself only produce Eclipse Temurin, a build of OpenJDK that uses the Hotspot JVM.
But lots of developers and businesses now use and depend upon the JDK binaries from AdoptOpenJDK that combine the class libraries of OpenJDK with the OpenJ9 JVM. The recent JVM ecosystem survey  from Snyk states that 44% of developers surveyed are using AdoptOpenJDK binaries. Download statistics at AdoptOpenJDK suggest OpenJ9 is about 12% of direct downloads and perhaps as much as 20% of docker pulls. Taken together, that could mean about 5% - 9% of the surveyed developers are using OpenJ9. It’s fuzzy math, of course, but if you add those numbers to the 3% of developers surveyed that are using the IBM SDK for Java (which also contains the OpenJ9 JVM), then somewhere between about 8-12% of those polled by the JVM ecosystem report could using OpenJ9 based binaries, which hopefully reflects usage across the entire Java ecosystem.
And so the longer answer ends with: to support all these developers and businesses that prefer OpenJ9 technology, IBM stepped forward to produce, and distribute at no cost, the IBM Semeru Runtimes . There is an IBM Semeru Runtime Open Edition targeted for developers looking for the open source OpenJDK license , and there will soon be a Certified Edition targeted for customers who are familiar or more comfortable with an IBM license, or who have a requirement for Java TCK certification. You’re free to use either one at no cost in development or production.
IBM has been contributing to the success of the Java ecosystem for more than 25 years, and the recent release of the IBM Semeru Runtimes reinforces our ongoing commitment to Java developers and businesses everywhere. We look forward to hearing what you do with IBM Semeru Runtimes!
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