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GraalVM is a Technology to Watch

Oracle

This was originally published on the Amalgam Insights site on April 17, 2017. Oracle Labs has recently (April 17, 2018) announced the 1.0 release of GraalVM. GraalVM is an open source language virtual machine(VM), much like the Java VM or Node.js virtual machine. What makes GraalVM interesting, is that it can execute code written in a variety of languages including Java (and Java VM based languages such as Scala, Groovy, or Kotlin), R, JavaScript, along with Ruby, R, and Python. This is a departure from mainstream VM designs. It is much more common to have separate and specific VMs for languages such as PHP or Python. In some cases, a

Latest Projects

I know, I’ve been quiet. That’s because I have been working on a paper about Infrastructure as Code, a big step forward in infrastructure management. In the meantime, my latest CMSWire article is out and it’s on technologies that help in testing. Find it on CMSWire. Keep your eyes open for the paper in a few weeks.

Well That Explains Why It Didn’t Work

Busted Acer Piece of Junk

Full disclosure: This is a bit of a rant. It has nothing to do with the work I do for Amalgam Insights or the areas I typically cover. Think of it as a cautionary tale instead. Just a bit under four years ago, I bought my college bound daughter a brand new laptop. It was an Acer Aspire with 8G of RAM and a one terabyte hard drive. Four years ago, that was pretty good; Today it’s just normal. One of the reasons I chose the Acer is that I had such good luck with them in the past. I still have a functioning, 15-year old Acer laptop that I

Blockchain! What is it Good For?

Blockchain

This blog post was also published on Amalgam Insights. Blockchain is one of those up and coming technologies that is constantly being talked about by vendors and pundits. Many of the largest IT companies – IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle to name few – plus an industry group or two are heavily promoting blockchain. Clearly, there is intense interest, much of it fueled by exotic sounding cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The big question I get asked – and analysts are supposed to be able to answer the big questions – is “What can I use blockchain for?” To begin with, the best applications of blockchain are those that require

Red Hat Acquires CoreOs – Analysis

Amalgam Insights Logo

I have a new paper on the Amalgam Insights site. It is an analysis of the Red Hat acquisition of CoreOs. Overall, I see this as a good development for customers and those who want are pursuing an open source, hybrid container strategy. The report is free to download on our site.

GraalVM is a Technology to Watch

Oracle

This was originally published on the Amalgam Insights site on April 17, 2017.

Oracle Labs has recently (April 17, 2018) announced the 1.0 release of GraalVM. GraalVM is an open source language virtual machine(VM), much like the Java VM or Node.js virtual machine. What makes GraalVM interesting, is that it can execute code written in a variety of languages including Java (and Java VM based languages such as Scala, Groovy, or Kotlin), R, JavaScript, along with Ruby, R, and Python. This is a departure from mainstream VM designs. It is much more common to have separate and specific VMs for languages such as PHP or Python. In some cases, a language will byte compile to a different virtual machine, for instance Clojure compiling to the run on the Java VM. Those languages are purpose built to run on a specific VM. GraalVM, on the other hand, runs code written in languages originally built for their own VM.

This approach offers advantages over the traditional approach of one language, one VM. For example, any program that is compiled for GraalVM can share libraries with other programs that is likewise compiled. Developers can write in different languages but still maintain interoperability and code reuse across them all. This also allows developers to continue to use code written in “older languages” while migrating to a new one. Similarly, it allows the continued used of majority language, such as Java, while leveraging languages that are built for specific purposes, such as R. Another advantage of GraalVM is ubiquity. One VM for multiple needs means fewer VMs to provision and update across IT servers and containers. That can be a serious time saver and makes maintaining large and complex systems a bit easier.

GraalVM is also embeddable. The ability to build plugins using GraalVM was one of the reasons that Oracle started the Graal project. By creating GraalVM compatible code that can be embedded in an Oracle Database opens the door to customers extending their Oracle databases. This is clearly better than writing code outside the database for common query-related processing.

At the moment GraalVM only supports a handful of languages – in other words, it does not have ubiquitous support for all common programming languages. The mainstays of Microsoft application programming, Microsoft CLR based languages such as C# and F#, are not available. Obviously, languages that are native compiled, such as C, C++, or Go, won’t run on GraalVM unless they can be compiled for it. This will probably limit GraalVM to the Java and open source language crowd that is dabbling in Node.js JavaScript for microservices or R and Python for analytics. Another small hang-up is that Ruby, R, and Python are listed as “experimental.” This should inhibit deployment of these languages in production environments using GraalVM. That is a temporary issue that time will hopefully solve.

GraalVM has serious potential. It can simplify a complex VM landscape and allow choice in programming languages without proliferation of VMs and libraries. At the moment, it’s mostly potential, especially given the limited range of supported programming languages. That potential, however, is the reason why GraalVM is worth keeping an eye on.

Latest Projects

I know, I’ve been quiet. That’s because I have been working on a paper about Infrastructure as Code, a big step forward in infrastructure management.

In the meantime, my latest CMSWire article is out and it’s on technologies that help in testing. Find it on CMSWire.

Keep your eyes open for the paper in a few weeks.