Monday, February 8, 2010

OSGi & Cloud Computing

The Eclipse Foundation and the OSGi Alliance are holding a Cloud workshop during the OSGi DevCon/EclipseCon developer conference in Santa Clara, Thursday March 25.

They key question we want to answer in this workshop: what role can OSGi play in the cloud? Offerings like the ones from Amazon ( are agnostic of any application model and OSGi can play in their EC2 offering like anybody else because it is based on generic x86 machines. However, a model like the Google App Engine so severely knee-capped Java that it is doubt full that OSGi can run on it. Many cloud computing providers have free plans to get you started, or at least make the cost trivial. However, the costly part is your own investment in the software you develop for the cloud. On the desktop and on the server we've had a lot of advantage of standards that abstracted us from the vendors. This portability allows us to move our code to different app servers (well mostly). Though most of the lessons we learned in the past still apply to the cloud, the current vendors of cloud computing have very specific offerings that easily create portability problems. How to access the storage? How to discover and handle multiple instances of the application in the cloud? How to handle storage? How to share domain specific services? Standardizing interfaces for these aspects of cloud computing could provide a lot of portability. And portability is not only in the interest of the clients, also vendors gain by having a much larger market.

Perusing the different offerings for cloud computing I can clearly see that the OSGi bundle model would work very well in this area. Applications can easily be managed remotely because remote management is inside OSGi's genes. This always has made OSGi easy to use in clusters and much of those benefits apply equally to cloud computing. However, the advantages of the OSGi service model seems to be even more clear. A cloud computing environment is by definition a dynamic environment. Adding instances, removing instances, and instances that fail will likely influence the other instances. This means that the application will need to handle the dynamicity of the services that these computing instances provide. There will be also be dependencies that must be managed. OSGi services shine in these areas, making it relatively simple to correctly model these dynamic dependencies.

So overall the combination of cloud computing and OSGi is clearly an interesting one. With the workshop we want to bring together cloud people and OSGi people and see where there are areas where OSGi standards could help. This first workshop is by invitation only because for this first time we want to learn; we need people with experience in the area of cloud computing and that see OSGi as a potential standards player in this area; creating a discussion between cloud experts and OSGi experts. So if you're heavily into cloud computing and you want to attend, send me or Ian Skerret from the Eclipse Foundation a mail. Amazon? Google? Microsoft? You?

Peter Kriens


  1. The url that links to the Workshop page uses https. This promotes people for a username and password. If you replace the https with just a plain http it works fine.

  2. Hi Peter,

    This is a great to notice this direction from OSGI foundation. It is very vital for us to understand how OSGI is going to play in Cloud area.

    I have a question about Scalability aspect of OSGI applications.

    How do you see Scalability of OSGI applications across multiple JVM. Essentially COnfigurations for:
    1. Scalability
    2. Fault Tolerance

    Pointers appreciated.