Friday, December 23, 2005

OSGi on the CCNC 2005

A few weeks ago our distinguished VP of Marketing, Susan Schwartze, told me I had one business night to write a proposal for a CCNC 2005 panel. As a dutiful Technical Director/Fellow/Evangelist I obeyed and delivered a text before the sun rose (ok, in Hawaii). Surprisingly, the proposal was accepted and as luck had it, I will find myself in Las Vegas next month.
The subject of the panel is “When Applications Can Roam Freely”, for a technical guy pretty poetic don’t you think? One of the key issues we try to achieve is to have a single standard for application development. Most standardization efforts are about how different computers can communicate; both on protocol and hardware level. The OSGi Alliance took another route and standardized the execution environment. Our vision is that many devices, large and small, can run the same components, despite differences in hardware, capacity and performance. If we succeed, it will enable a huge market of networked services and the derived need for hardware. This can become similar to how the standardized PC drove a trillion dollar market. The OSGi technology is already being delivered in products and services shipping from numerous Fortune Global 100 companies.
To achieve this vision, we face a tremendous task. A software standard that allows applications to roam freely has a certain overhead. In a world with cut-throat competition, any overhead is deemed as unacceptable. However, there are a number of trends in the market that will make more and more companies accept the overhead because in the end the gain will be more than the pain. It finally looks like, for example, that flash memory and CPUs are getting to price levels that are so low that the cost for Java is paid with the simpler development and more robust results.
And robust results we need. It is frightening how many devices break down or do not work exactly as they should. My wireless base station looses connection about five times a day. This week I bought a TV transmitter, but the Infrared transmitter did not work, well mostly. And I can go on of the user-unfriendliness of most devices. This sad state of affairs is caused by too much brittle, ill designed, software. A unified execution environment will create a component market where quality can thrive. Currently the market for embedded software is so fragmented that many little kingdoms can survive, despite the quality.
The last, but not least, force that is moving the market in our direction is the interconnectedness. More and more devices are getting a wireless or wired connection. This connectedness enables remote management and it creates many software opportunities. The connectedness of devices was what drove the original OSGi specifications in the first place.
If you are interested in discussing these options, take a chance and come to the CCNC in Las Vegas. The panel is manned by the heavy weights of the OSGi: Jon Bostrom the Java Architect from Nokia, Vince Izzo, Business Development, Motorola (connected home), Dave Marples, Ph.D., Chief Architect, EU Global System for Telematics, Telcordia Technologies (automotive), Paolo Pastorino, CTO, Home Gateway Initiative, and me.

If this illustrious company cannot shed led on the future of roaming applications, who can?


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