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Between May and August of this year, we conducted three surveys and polled a total of 865 Red Hat JBoss Middleware customers about their attitudes toward emerging architectures and programming paradigms. We were specifically interested in learning more about how our customers are thinking about Java EE in the age of microservices, containers, and the cloud. We also wanted to better understand their priorities and motivations, the challenges they are facing, and ultimately how satisfied they are with the capabilities of Red Hat's products and services.

To set the context, we asked customers how they would describe their current production Java EE applications. The majority said all are large, traditional, on-premise Java EE applications (64 percent), with another 23 percent indicating that most of their applications are on-premise with some cloud, and 13 percent saying that more than half of their applications are deployed in cloud environments.

Over the next three years, however, this is expected to become more balanced with 30 percent anticipating that all of their applications will be large, traditional, on-premise Java EE applications, 32 percent expecting to have a mix of the two, and 38 percent expecting to see more than half of their applications deployed in cloud environments.

This shift is likely going to be a natural evolution for many organizations, versus being driven by a strategic imperative, as they mature and move toward more heterogeneous, hybrid cloud environments. Less than a quarter (24 percent) of respondents said that moving applications to the cloud is a high priority for their IT organization. Instead, customers are prioritizing their ability to maintain and update existing applications (71 percent) and to create or update new applications more quickly (53 percent).

These priorities are reflected in customers' approach to microservices and containers – two technologies predicated on the need for greater agility and control in enterprise application environments.

When asked about their organizations' timelines for deploying microservices architectures, 29 percent said they either already use them in production today or are currently implementing them. The number is similar for containers at 33 percent. Near term, 36 percent of respondents are in the process of researching microservices or plan to deploy them in the next year, and 38 percent said the same for containers. Less than one fifth of respondents have no plans to deploy microservices architectures (18 percent) or containers (16 percent) within the next five years.

It is little surprise that these priorities also correlate with some of the challenges respondents are facing with regard to their current application infrastructure and are a reflection of continued pressure on IT departments to deliver more, faster, and in many cases with the same resources. Sixty-three percent of respondents see cost and effort to maintain application infrastructure as a challenge, while 50 percent face challenges related to legacy technology, and 34 percent feel pressure to improve speed to market and developer productivity.

To learn whether or not we are helping customers address their challenges, and if customers' priorities match the benefits they experience using Red Hat's flagship Java EE product, Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP), we asked those specific customers – the majority of whom have been Red Hat customers for more than five years – to elaborate on what they have gained.

The top three benefits of using JBoss EAP identified by customers include stability, easy upgrades and reduced maintenance (59 percent), cost savings (44 percent), and improved developer productivity (38 percent).

As customers seek to modernize their application environments and implement technologies like microservices and containers, it is important that they be able to bridge old and new technologies in a safe and meaningful way. As indicated by the leading priorities, they want to be able to maintain existing applications while also harnessing the agility and benefits of these new architectures and programming paradigms. An application platform that can serve as a bridge between the two is an important consideration.

Earlier this year we launched JBoss EAP 7 with the aim of helping enterprises use and extend their existing application investments as they transition to more modern technologies. We have done this by making JBoss EAP lightweight and giving it a small footprint suitable for both traditional and microservices-style applications, and optimizing it for our container application platform, Red Hat OpenShift.

The technology industry is in a state of constant flux. Only time will tell if these trends continue, but for now, we are pleased that these middleware customers are satisfied, they are investing in us for the long term, and they trust our vision for the future.

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