Thursday, November 10, 2005

The UPnP and OSGi Specifications
A common misconception is that OSGi and UPnP are competing standards. Well, the good news is that they are definitely not in competition! Actually, they work surprisingly well together. That is good news for us because more and more devices are UPnP enabled. Interestingly, very few devices actually are labeled with the UPnP Forum brand, but it is introduced in virtually any networked device, which are in increasing number of consumer devices. For example, when I start an OSGi Framework at home, I can see the registration of:
  • A Belkin Wireless Network Router
  • A Linksys network storage unit
  • A Go Video Networked DVD Player,
  • Two Xerox Printers
  • A Media-Player on another PC
  • A Wireless camera

This silent revolution is very good news for OSGi users, UPnP addresses the key issue of how to communicate with CE devices, something that is beyond the scope of the OSGi Alliance. But what does the OSGi Alliance then provides? The OSGi provides the secure place to run all those programs that provide UPnP devices (like Media Players, for example) and programs that control those UPnP devices.

There is a big need for the flexibility that an OSGi Platform provides because not everything is rosy in the UPnP world. The specification is in certain areas rather loose, and too many programmers are rather lax, which means that there are many interoperability problems. I actually have to run two different media servers to server my two media players. However, these incompatibilities are an opportunity for OSGi based platforms. Additionally, not all devices have the resources to provide UPnP interfaces; a perfect opportunity for an OSGi Platform to bridge this device so that it can be controlled by UPnP remote controllers. The managed application is well suited to a world where many mediations between devices are necessary.

UPnP enabled devices are a very interesting opportunity for OSGi platforms. I know that many people are working on it. This will be big in the coming years, mark my words!

Peter Kriens
OSGi Evangelist

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