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Microsoft Steps Up Java Support at Eclipse with a New Strategic Membership

Microsoft has amped up its support of Java developers by expanding its participation in the Eclipse Foundation to become a Strategic Member, the company announced this week.

Microsoft's Stephen Walli, principal program manager in the Azure Office of the CTO, will be joining the foundation's board of directors.

"The Eclipse Foundation is expanding its role through working groups and many of these working groups are important to Microsoft and its partners," Walli said in a blog post. "Recent work around the Eclipse Dataspace Connector and Eclipse Tractus-X are examples of new work beginning at the Eclipse Foundation in working groups in which Microsoft has an interest in participating."

Among other privileges, Strategic Members have a seat on the foundation's board of directors, its architecture council, and expanded board voting rights on key aspects of the Eclipse ecosystem, including licensing, governing policy development, and amendments to membership agreements and bylaws."

"Strategic Members play an integral role in the Eclipse Foundation ecosystem," the foundation explains on its website, because they are "investing significant developer and other resources to further drive Eclipse Foundation technology."

How much of an investment? According to the foundation's membership agreement, Strategic Members must commit "the full-time equivalent" of at least two developers assigned to work on Eclipse technology projects on an on-going basis. Strategic Members are encouraged (but not required) to lead an Eclipse project or a Project Management Committee (PMC). They also pay dues based on a combination of membership class and the organization's annual revenues. A company making more than €250M (just under $3M) annually pays €250,000 for a Strategic membership. (You can check my math on the membership agreement.)

"The Eclipse Foundation has a long history of providing a strong, collaborative culture supporting open-source-licensed projects," Walli said in his post, "and many of those projects are important to Microsoft, our partners, and our customers. It is important for Microsoft to support the organization that supports those projects, and to work within the organization towards those collective goals."

Another reason for Redmond's accelerated involvement: the foundation's recent decision to establish its official headquarters in Belgium.

"The [Eclipse] team showed initiative and forethought and pivoted to become a European-based international non-profit organization to align with its membership," Walli said in his post. "The Eclipse Foundation is a natural place for Microsoft to collaborate on new initiatives beginning with European partners."

Walli posts occasionally on Microsoft's Open-Source Blog. He has a long history of working with open source.

"Having a rich ecosystem of healthy non-profits supporting different groups of open-source-initiative-licensed projects and their project ecosystems is a must," Walli said. "At Microsoft, we are committed to continuing to support and participate across the non-profit ecosystem, as well as engage in projects themselves."

Of course, Microsoft supports its own thriving developer community, but Redmond has been a member of the Eclipse Foundation since 2016, when it joined as a Solutions Member. The company announced the Microsoft Build of OpenJDK, a new no-cost, open-source, Long-Term Support (LTS) distribution of OpenJDK, in April of this year, and released it in May. And Java on Visual Studio Code has become an increasingly popular code editor.

But Microsoft has seemed especially interested in supporting Java on Azure. The Azure Toolkit for Eclipse, which is available on the Eclipse Marketplace, provides "functionality that allows you to easily create, develop, configure, test, and deploy lightweight, highly available and scalable Java web apps and HDInsight Spark jobs to Azure using the Eclipse development environment. The Java SDK for Azure is an open-source Azure SDK for Java designed to simplify provisioning, managing, and using Azure resources from Java application code.

The Eclipse Foundation is a good place from which to pursue at least one dimension of these interests. It's one of the world’s leading open-source software development and specifications organizations. It's the non-profit steward of the Eclipse IDE, enterprise Java (Jakarta), and the Eclipse MicroProfile. And its roster of Strategic Members includes IBM, Oracle, Huawei, and SAP, among others—now including Microsoft.

Posted by John K. Waters on August 4, 2021