Pivotal People—Josh Long, Spring Developer Advocate

November 21, 2013 Adam Bloom

Josh_Long_HeaderThis week, we are excited to feature Spring Developer advocate Josh Long. Josh has written several books on Spring, penned articles on InfoQ.com, and has spoken at many industry conferences including TheServerSide Java Symposium, SpringOne, OSCON, JavaZone, Devoxx, and more. He spends most of his time listening and talking with Spring developers, drinking coffee, and Java User Groups.

Q1 | How did you grow up and what you were interested in?

A1 | I grew up in Los Angeles, CA in the US. I have two brothers (Carry and Troy, each almost 25 years my senior) and a sister (Caitlin, one year my junior). My interests have been mostly around code and coffee. When the iPad debuted and the major comic publishers moved to digital, I renewed my childhood addiction to comic books. I spend so much time stuck on planes that—between technical books and comic books—I’m usually reading something! Nowadays, media companies have realized what we addicts realized a long time ago and some of the best movie franchises are drawn from comic books. It’s a great time to be a fan of comics.

Q2 | What is your background and how did you come to Pivotal?

A2 | I’m a programmer by trade. I started a company in 2004 with 3 other people. Startups are, of course, driven by hard work and results, not golf-game driven sales from consultants that don’t care if you actually succeed. I had used Spring since its inception, but this startup was the first chance I had to really pound on it. It was a force multiplier and the only reason I think I stayed on the JVM at the time. I wonder how many developers we lost to .NET and other platforms because of the sorry state of enterprise Java, before Spring.

Since then, I’ve worked on one highly performant, public-facing web application after another with various stacks, and Spring’s always been the smoothest, most productive experience. I decided, after a while, to raise my hand, speak out at JUGs, and start penning articles. I began speaking at conferences (both domestic and international) and talking about Spring. Eventually, I started writing books on Spring, committing on a few of the projects, and, finally, the Spring team asked me to join them. Each day since has been even more awesome than the last!

Q3 | What is your role within Pivotal and what are you focused on?

Upcoming Webinar
Join Spring Developer advocate (and author of this post) Josh Long this Thursday for the webinar Have You Seen Spring Lately on Thursday the 21st of November, 2013 at 3PM GMT and 10AM PST.Josh will introduce some of what is new and awesome with Spring and the Spring team as part of Pivotal, and field questions about just about anything!

A3 | I’m the Spring Developer Advocate and the luckiest guy in the world! :D People all around the world know and love Spring, and I get to shake their hands and talk to them. Spring is such a unifying force in the world of open-source Java. Part of my job, of course, is to help spread the good word about the latest and greatest in Spring. I also help developers get started and help if they have trouble. I also answer to the community, and do what I can to carry back its feedback to the Spring team whenever possible. I’m often boots-on-the-ground and therefore accessible to our amazing community. I answer to the community, and am always happy to help.

Q4 | What challenges does your product solve and what are some customer examples?

A4 | Spring is a framework for building enterprise Java applications. It’s uses are manyfold—it supports web applications, REST services, mobile applications, big-data- and batch-workloads, NoSQL, integration solutions and much more. For a walking tour of what Spring can offer (we’re calling the whole thing, collectively, Spring IO), you might checkout my post, Have You Seen Spring Lately? If you want to get started with Spring, we provide numerous easily digested guides to Spring! We have many customers and users:

  • You’d be hard pressed to find any company in the Fortune 500 that doesn’t use Spring. You’d also be hard pressed to find many Java shops that don’t use it in some way.
  • In January 2013, I visited with major companies in Asia that use Spring to learn about some of what they’re doing. I blogged about one such visit to the Alibaba group. I’ll let you read the blog, but the takeaway was that TaoBao, in the first few seconds of their sales spike, had something like 10 million users online concurrently. Then, they sustained a similar, crazy load for 24 hours to end up with almost 300% more sales than the previous, largest single-day haul of the western e-tailers (Amazon, eBay, etc) combined! They use Spring heavily.
  • China’s leading search engine is called Baidu and—as Google isn’t really an option there—it serves the majority of the almost 600 million (online) users there. That’s larger than most countries! It also makes China the #1 most-online country in the world in absolute terms. They use Spring heavily, too, as well.
  • In India, Spring powers the government ID and social services program that attempts to provide a unified identity to 1.2 billion people. Here too Spring played a crucial role.

Spring is used in all parts of the world and is very popular. I was just at a conference in Antwerp, Belgium, which is hosted in a movie theatre. One talk there on the latest in Spring 4 filled out the auditorium, and left people standing at the door and in the aisles! It’s worth noting that the auditorium accommodated a maximum of 750 people! Mind you, there are many technical conferences where the entire attending audience is less than 1000 people!

Q5 | What are you most excited about being able to do in the new, Pivotal organization?

A5 | One of the most exciting things for me is the opportunity that lay before us. We on the Spring team work closely with the the Grails, Cloud Foundry, Greenplum, GemFire, Tomcat, RabbitMQ, and Redis teams. We’re building software—a platform—that can really change the game for the better. It’s amazing having all that awesome under one roof, on one team, and it’s even more amazing getting to work with these people.

Q6 | Pivotal has put a significant focus on the developer. What does that mean for your product?

A6 | Spring is at the forefront of this initiative!

Due to Spring’s vaunted portability and the power within the framework, it is the ideal choice for legacy application servers like WebLogic (if you’re stuck there) as well as also for lighter application servers like Apache Tomcat, of which Pivotal tc Server is a binary-compatible distribution, and Jetty. Spring’s portability extends to the cloud, where it can be used to build applications on Cloud Foundry (as well as numerous other clouds). Spring provides numerous abstractions and integrations with infrastructure too. For example, Spring is an ideal choice for big-data solutions such as those you might build on top of our Hadoop distribution Pivotal HD by using Spring for Apache Hadoop or Spring XD. Spring supports real-time needs on top of Pivotal GemFire, using Spring Data GemFire, and on top of Redis, using Spring Data Redis. Spring features great integration and batch processing support and a first-class API for working with Pivotal RabbitMQ, our enterprise-grade, AMQP-based message broker, using Spring AMQP or Spring Integration, for example.

Of course, I mention our technologies and products first, but Spring supports developers all over the Java ecosystem!

Q7 | How will Spring work with Cloud Foundry and Pivotal One?

A7 | Spring runs really well on Apache Tomcat and works well with lots of popular middleware technologies like RabbitMQ, Redis, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB. Happily, all of these—and more—are available as services on Cloud Foundry. Spring’s portability makes it easy to build applications that work well in the cloud and its rich set of APIs make maximizing the platform as easy as possible.

Q8 | What new Pivotal products are you most excited about working with?

A8 | The data technologies—Pivotal HD, GemFire, Redis, and others—are particularly sexy in dealing with the data-deluge common to contemporary applications. RabbitMQ is an easy-to-use, highly performant, and scalable solution for the very difficult problem of integration between systems—key in today’s world full of loosely coupled, singly-focused cloud services. Apache Tomcat holds the lead as the most widely used application server on the market, and Pivotal tc Server embraces that community with a management and monitoring-ready Apache Tomcat distribution. Of course, you can already use most of these on Cloud Foundry. So, I think Cloud Foundry is the one that holds the most attraction for me—there’s no reason to be afraid of deployment anymore. That’s a powerful, game-changing thing, I think. Now, there is no reason to avoid experiments, and you can use the best infrastructure and service for the job. This can only improve application quality!

Q9 | How was your experience meeting with the GE team?

A9 | A few months ago, myself and several members of the Spring team visited and talked to the GE team about some of the amazing things they’re doing with Spring. They are longtime, smart users and fans of Spring, and it was obvious when you talked with them. We had some very good discussions around REST, big-data, and more. Though, I don’t think we really taught them anything!

Q10 | What is your favorite developer tool and why?

A10 | Why, Spring of course! Spring is transformative. It’s been around longer than most of the Pivotal technologies, but has more than stood the test of time and changed the world. It changed enterprise Java forever and for the better. Spring is at the heart of the Pivotal platform and is used by millions of Java developers worldwide. It gave enterprise Java the hug it most sorely needed from 2003, onward.

Q11 | What is your biggest achievement?

A11 | Well, I don’t really know how to answer that. I don’t have a single thing. The trick is a bit (ok, a lot!) of luck and a lot of passion and hard work. You can do anything if you’re passionate and a little bit lucky! I’ve written 4 books (all on Spring). This is something I’d always dreamed about but never thought possible! Now that I’m on the other side of it, I still don’t think it’s possible! Of course, I joined the Spring team as an engineer and an evangelist, truly helping Java developers in a meaningful way. None of that would have been possible if Spring hadn’t helped me in the first place, though. I also speak a few languages. Communication skills have served me very well, and I’m very grateful I put some effort there.

Q12 | What do you like to do in your personal time when you aren’t living and breathing Pivotal products and what’s on your bucket list of things to do while still on this little rock we call earth?

A12 | That’s a hard question! I do read quite a bit, but I was doing what I do now in my free time before I joined the Spring team years ago! This job was my free time. Now, I draw a paycheck and don’t have to eat into my vacation days. For things on my list, I have yet to sky-dive, visit Antarctica, or learn Mandarin–these are in no particular order.

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