J2EE used to the only real option for developing for enterprise applications in Java. The market has moved on and David Chappell has written an excellent article on the future of enterprise Java and the three directions it is going.
The three directions of Java are:
J2EE, now branded JEE, is going to continue. It will not be the core product offering of many vendors any more. This is partly because JEE is often perceived as not ideal for SOA (not an unfair claim, given that it was not designed from scratch for SOA).
David Chappell explains the situation very well: It was never reasonable to expect powerful vendors like IBM and BEA to remain Sun’s vassals, especially now that their J2EE market share vastly exceeds that of their putative lord. Combine this with Sun’s reluctance to give up control, and the result should surprise no one: the Sun-led J2EE alliance is at an end.
Open Source application development products are now highly credible and will continue to thrive. The list of successful open source products is impressive, including Linux, Eclipse, Struts, Tomcat, MySQL, and several more. In fact, the only area where open source is weak is SOA, which of course is the focus the Open SOA.
As David Chappell major risk with the divisions in Java is that it will not be as strong as it might be if the roadmap was unified. However, with JEE and the JCP not serving the commercial interests of the major Java vendors like BEA and IBM and JEE not perfectly aligned with SOA, there is no option but to move forward with the Open SOA.