Crossing the Chasm

OSGi – Winning Over The Majority

Jessica Thornsby

Will OSGi ever move into the mainstream?

Following
Kirk Knoernschild’s
assertion that OSGi’s lack of platform and
tooling support, and its ‘outdated’ image are preventing it from
being embraced by the enterprise, Ian Skerrett has posted a blog
proposing ways to encourage OSGi adoption.

Currently, Skerrett perceives OSGi as being primarily used by
those on the cutting-edge of development. If it wants to go
mainstream and be adopted by your average developer, it needs to
meet a whole new set of criteria. If it cannot satisfy this
criteria, it won’t ‘cross the chasm’ and go mainstream.

At the moment, there are several notable OSGi-based projects.
The EclipseRT project offers a collection of OSGi-based runtimes
and frameworks built by various Eclipse open source projects,
including the Riena platform for building multi-tier enterprise
client/server applications, and the Swordfish
SOA runtime framework. Apache Aries aims to provide a home for open source
implementations of OSGi EEG specifications. Neither of these
projects are in danger of pushing OSGi into the mainstream,
although IBM’s
open beta
of their WebSphere Application Server V7 Feature Pack
for OSGi Applications and Java Persistence API (JPA) 2.0 product
could earn OSGi a few new followers.

So, what steps can OSGi take to win over the mainstream?

Skerrett agrees with Knoernschild that OSGi is damaged by its
image. Organisations are generally more interested in agile and
cloud computing, than modularity. An image revamp is perhaps
necessary here.

In Skerrett’s opinion, the learning curve for OSGi is too steep.
This problem could be eased by better supporting documentation:
demos, tutorials, and books would make it easier for developers to
get to grips with OSGi. He also suggests taking a more
solutions-based approach to OSGi, which means delivering it
alongside consulting, training, tools and long-term support; not as
an isolated technology.

Skerrett proposes that the OSGi community could help promote the
framework through writing blogs, speaking at conferences and
writing case studies sharing their own positive experiences of
OSGi. Tara of Instil Software points out that this
community-created buzz, would have the additional benefit of acting
as informal guidance for those looking to get into OSGi.

Is OGSi ever going to make waves in the mainstream? One thing is
for sure: OSGi does not have the buzz of new technologies, such as
cloud computing. So, has modularity and OSGi missed the boat?
Skerrett takes a cautious view on this: “OSGi is here to stay but
it is still unknown how prevalent it will be in the next 5
years.”

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