A survey found that modernizing existing Java applications is a higher priority than other projects for 87% of respondents, with more than 80% of these applications expected to be re-engineered over the next five years. The survey polled 450 IT professionals working in organizations in the U.S. and United Kingdom that have more than 500 employees.
Conducted by the market research firm Vanson Bourne on behalf of Diffblue, a provider of a generative artificial intelligence (AI) platform for refactoring applications and generating unit tests, the survey also found enterprises plan to invest nearly half (45%) of their software development resources on modernization of existing applications versus developing new ones. A full 90% of respondents expected to rely on automation to accomplish those tasks, the survey found.
Specifically, survey respondents reported they planned to rely on automation to improve security (50%), increase development velocity (45%) and improve developer experience (42%). Well over half of respondents (58%) said they had already been working on these projects for more than 12 months.
If organizations don’t modernize Java applications, more than half of respondents (51%) said too much time would be spent on unproductive coding, while 50% said development velocity would be adversely affected. The biggest obstacles cited are choosing the right technical approach (45%) and securing budget (42%).
More than half of organizations (59%) have created a dedicated modernization budget to support their efforts. Nealy half (48%) said funds are being provided by business teams for projects, while 49% said general operating budgets have increased.
Diffblue CEO Matthew Lodge said it’s clear there is a huge commitment to application modernization. The reality is the majority of work IT teams do involves applications that have already been deployed. The challenge they face is that the effort required to modernize these applications is still far too dependent on manual processes, he added.
Overall, the survey found 96% of respondents considered Java applications extremely or very important to their organizations. On average, 65% reported additional Java applications are still being developed. Only 4% said they planned to migrate away from Java as part of a modernization effort.
Over half of the respondents expected to use Java 11 (53%) or Java 17 (56%) in their applications, compared to 19% using Java 8. More than a quarter (27%) expected to use a forthcoming Java 21 release. A full 100% expected to use the Spring framework to build these applications, with more than half (54%) planning to upgrade to the latest version that supports Java 17. A full 97% said unit testing is an “extremely” or “very important” element of their application modernization effort.
After experiencing something akin to a mid-life crisis, Java has itself been modernized with the release of Java 17, noted Lodge. The Java community is now adopting many concepts that may have been pioneered in other programming languages, he added.
Regardless of whether organizations are modernizing existing Java applications or writing new ones, the one thing that appears certain is the venerable programming language isn’t about to disappear any time soon.