One To Watch

Eclipse bolsters M2M portfolio with proposed OSGi container Kura

The Internet of Things is kind of a big deal. At least that’s what the signs are showing us.

The biggest indication yet that the fledgling community had broken its way into the corporate stream of consciousness was General Electric’s intention to start the age of the Industrial Internet of Things, by working alongside Pivotal. We’ve seen Oracle make their play for Java to be at the heart of embedded technologies in recent weeks too.

According to research from ABI, there are 10 billion devices in the Internet of Everything today and the figure will rise to 30 billion devices by 2020. With business booming, is there a danger that demand could outstrip supply, if the the machine-to-machine network infrastructure isn’t up to scratch and primed to deal with a surge?

Fortunately, at the centre of the M2M movement has been the Eclipse Foundation, housing a number of projects related to the technology, as well as hosting an M2M industry working group for interested companies. Although not yet mainstream, M2M toolbox Koneki, protocol project Paho and runtime environment Mihini could end being the lifeblood of the ecosystem, due to the open nature of the projects.

Eclipse Director Mike Milinkovich told JAXenter that the Internet of Things “is going to be huge” last month.

“I believe very strongly that if the Internet of Things is going to be successful, it’s going to have to be open,” he told JAXenter.de editor Hartmut Schlosser.

“The more we make sure the protocols, the frameworks and the developer tools that are being used to build the Internet of Things, the more we make sure those are open - as in open source - the better it will be for everybody.”

It seems the open source foundation isn’t letting up their M2M efforts, with Kura the latest proposal to shore up at Eclipse. Due to the large customisation needed for custom hardware and software, the earliest embedded prototypes have often been proprietary protocols and systems with little use to outsiders. Only recently has the emergence of the cost-effective service gateway model opened things up to all, because it operates as the aggregator and controller on the edge of deployment.

Kura wants to take things even further by providing an OSGi-based container for M2M applications running such gateways. The project creates or aggregates the most essential services for M2M applications, such as I/O access, data services, network configuration and remote management. The proposal states the project complements Java 6 and OSGi platforms well, as most of the components are written in pure Java.

The scope of the Kura project seems pretty all encompassing, with extra plans down the line to design a build environment to isolate Kura components and an IDE to run M2M applications in an emulated environment in the Eclipse IDE.

IWG member Eurotech are the initial contributors, bringing much of the source code from the Eurotech Everywhere Software Framework, with the UI of that project is already present in Eclipse Paho.

A pre-made build for platforms like Raspberry Pi will be included in Kura, with the lightweight computer quickly becoming the M2M platform of choice.

The initial donation is expected to be completed by Q4 in 2013, but Kura has already been tested on open Java VM implementations such as OpenJDK.

It’s another welcome addition to Eclipse’s growing M2M portfolio and one that should instigate greater adoption, thanks to its OSGi backbone.

Image courtesy of Andy Piper

Chris Mayer

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