JRuby Team Leaving Sun for Engine Yard

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-07-28

Not sure of the future of their project at Oracle, the JRuby team is leaving Sun Microsystems to join the development team at Engine Yard, a company that specializes in Ruby and Ruby on Rails development and application hosting.

The move comes three years after Sun hired Charles Nutter and Thomas Enebo, the chief maintainers of the open-source JRuby project, and is based primarily on "uncertainty" about the future of key Sun technologies under Oracle's ownership. Nick Sieger, another member of the JRuby core team, also will join Nutter and Enebo at Engine Yard.

In an interview with eWEEK, Nutter said the main reason for moving JRuby to a more secure and stable position at a hardcore Ruby/Rails shop like Engine Yard was "uncertainty about the future and also Engine Yard reaching out and committing to helping to move JRuby forward."

Engine Yard was not the only place where the JRuby team could have landed. "Other people approached us, but this felt like the best fit," Nutter said.

The JRuby team has developed a stable, high-performance Ruby implementation that runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). JRuby is a Java implementation of the Ruby language. JRuby also is showing increasing penetration into the traditional base of Java developers. And it has become one of the ways that Java-based Web development shops are adopting Ruby. Meanwhile, Engine Yard has been quietly amassing a horde of Ruby and Rails talent and projects, and appears to be emerging as a mecca for Ruby applications development and hosting.

Overall, this move aligns the JRuby team with the Ruby/Rails experts at Engine Yard that are focused on helping business and Web developers reap the benefits of Ruby. For Engine Yard, this move broadens and deepens their support for Ruby, so they can bring even better offerings to the many businesses that have major Java investments and that also are working with Ruby and Rails. 

Nutter said the team will be working on JRuby at Engine Yard. Meanwhile, Sun will continue to deliver products that support JRuby, such as NetBeans. "We enjoyed working for Sun," he said, adding that leaving was a difficult decision.

Nutter said the move to Engine Yard also will give the JRuby team "a free hand to work more openly with everybody in the JRuby community."

Michael Mullany, vice president of marketing at Engine Yard, said, "We're really excited to have the JRuby team onboard." He said Engine Yard will be delivering documentation and commercial support for JRuby in the future.

Moreover, "We're super-excited to be able to offer JRuby options on our cloud offering as well," Mullany said.

Nutter offered comparisons between Engine Yard's cloud effort and Google App Engine, with the advantage of Engine Yard's "understanding of how to run Ruby in a hosted environment."

"We'll have a first-class Java environment on the Engine Yard platform," Mullany said.

The JRuby team members will begin working at Engine Yard as early as Aug. 3, Nutter said. 


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