In bed(ded) with Java

‘Intelligent’ embedded devices will be driven by Java, say analysts

Elliot Bentley

Two Oracle-sponsored white papers suggest that Java has a bright future on embedded and M2M devices.

deluge of “intelligent” embedded devices, especially those
incorporating machine-to-machine (M2M) aspects, will be driven by
Java, according to two recent Oracle-commissioned white

For current M2M device users and manufacturers, the most recent
white paper reports, the highest priorities are “ensuring
end-to-end security, from the remote device through to the data
center and the end user” and “integration with IT Systems”.

The report,
Designing an M2M Platform For The Connected World
, was written
by M2M research specialists Beecham Research and is drawn from the
results of surveys and interviews with current M2M producers and

Many of the authors’ conclusions reflect those of other industry
members, particularly that he large amounts of data produced by
these M2M devices will require storing and processing (thus
contributing to the ‘big data’ phenomenon) and that integration
with cloud-based services is “vitally important”.

According to the report, 40% of M2M market players consider it to
be a “major advantage” to use the same software development
environment throughout an M2M-based system. Being an
Oracle-sponsored the paper, the authors unsurprisingly continue:
“For example, using Java at both ends could deliver a clean
environment for an integrated medical devices and monitoring
application.” However, another 35% of those surveyed said that a
mixed environment provided “no advantage”.

Another earlier paper,
Ghost in the Machine: Java for Embedded Development
, explores
in more depth the role which Java is playing in embedded devices.
As you might expect, it is highly confident about Java’s embedded
future, concluding that “Java offers a set of choices suitable to a
broad set of needs and a road map to further improve the
productivity of the Java ecosystem”.

The authors predict that increasing power in embedded devices and
the coming modularisation of the JDK will see a shift away from
Java ME to Java SE Embedded. While not an official line from
Oracle, this might come as a surprise considering the
release of Java ME Embedded 3.2 at JavaOne this year
. But with

Java ME soon converging with SE
, it’s natural to assume that
the main version of Java will soon see embedded devices as a

Not only will the software be changing, but the hardware too:

While traditional embedded systems will continue to grow, they
are also evolving rapidly from fixed function and disconnected
systems to more flexible and interconnected systems, which IDC
calls intelligent systems.

These “intelligent” devices are driven by the trend towards
data-gathering devices, automated appliances and increased use of
tablets and smartphones. According to IDC data from 2011, revenue
from these “intelligent” embedded systems revenue is growing by 19%
annually and may reach $1.53 trillion by 2015. Intriguingly IDC
predict the healthcare and energy sectors to “expected to outstrip
all others” in rates of adoption.

Those not versed is the history of Java may be surprised to learn,
as the authors remind us, the language was “initially designed and
conceived to run in embedded devices [and] was precisely focused on
the portability and productivity problems faced by embedded

While these two papers may not provide many new insights into the
future of embedded and M2M devices, it does suggest that Oracle is
taking this growing area increasingly seriously.

Photo by Clive

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