Tuesday, September 30, 2008

OSGi Commons: OSAMI?

Last year I was asked to participate in the OSAMI project, as part of the French equipe (I happen to live in France). So what is OSAMI?

OSAMI stands for: Open Source AMbient Intelligence. It is (or will be) a European funded project that will develop a large set of components targeting applications outside the PC and server world. That is, applications that directly affect your environment in which you live. We can all testify that computers play a larger and larger role in our lives, but making those devices really work together and share relevant information is not easy. What is missing are components that can be used in a wide variety of devices to make this possible. The OSAMI project will develop these components in a collaboration between industry, universities, local governments, and the European Union.

The good news is that one of the few decided parts of this project is the choice for OSGi. Looking at the problem domain this project is attacking, this is an obvious choice. The specifications are a standard in the market, adoption is high and growing. They give you device- and OS neutrality through Java. And last but not least, the OSAMI domain is close, if not identical, to the domain the OSGi was created for ten years ago.

Obviously, the problem of assembling larger applications out of smaller components is very hard, especially in a dynamic environment like the ones we live in. However, we have gained a lot of experience in those early days and I think we are ready today. The biggest threat I see is the size of the project and its organization. Each country has a local organization that handles the subsidies. Trying to develop components that will work together and will share some kind of architectural consistency will be a major challenge. My (admittedly limited) experience with European projects makes me a bit worried that local champions can focus on their own needs instead of developing a commons that will benefit us all. One of the key failures in a previous project was quite unexpected. It turned out that the participants in the projects never arranged the rights for the material that was created. At the end of the project, it was completely unclear who could do what with the results.

Another challenge will be the standardization of the services. It is quite easy to create an OSGi component that performs some function. However, to generalize and abstract that function in an OSGi service is hard work, I learned.

And not to forget, there are the always significant administrative duties involved in European projects.

So overall, this project is a big challenge but it is also a tremendous opportunity for the OSGi Alliance. In the next couple of years, a very large number of people will be developing an even larger number of components in several open source projects. This will be a significant boom to OSGi in almost any computing field.

I do hope the OSAMI project(s) will take the effort to align their activities with the OSGi Alliance and work to turn their efforts in OSGi Compendium services. This will require a significant effort from the OSAMI participants because the only way to get a service in the specification is to work on it in an OSGi Expert Group.

Anyway, I will closely follow the OSAMI project and report about its progress. I will do my best to liaison between the OSAMI organization and the OSGi Alliance so we can make this project a great succes.

Peter Kriens

P.S. If you want so more information about OSAMI, read a short overview of the German branch of the OSAMI project.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Peter,

    OSAMi looks very interesting and a great endorsement for OSGi.

    The German branch seems to be doing some interesting stuff. Do you know if they have looked at the Eclipse SODA technology. They seem to be addressing a similar problem space.