M2M ready

Oracle finally embraces embedded with Java ME Embedded 3.2

Chris Mayer

Just ahead of JavaOne, Oracle make a ploy to entice the only developer area that Java doesn’t cover – light embedded devices. Can it make an impact?

With JavaOne excitement ramping up, Oracle have picked the perfect time to launch two products targeting the emerging machine-to-machine (M2M) field.

The latest inclusion to the database giant’s platform portfolio is Java ME Embedded 3.2, designed specifically to make Java development on lighter footprint devices, such as micro-controllers for machine-to-machine systems, far easier.

There’s a real craving (as shown by emerging Eclipse projects, Paho, Koneki and Mihini)for smart-grid infrastructure across the tech industry, all of whom are hoping to harness some extra power for small footprint devices such as environmental and tracking sensors.

In truth, this is the one area where Java has a real blind spot. Whilst Java ME has been around for some time, Oracle has never entered the realm of M2M before, sticking to enterprise and mobile alone. Developers operate these devices remotely, often releasing updates quickly to minimize impact on the entire network.

Steering clear until now made sense – M2M solutions have only really taken off in the past 12 months, and with the market developing Oracle’s move seems a shrewd one.

The 3.2 release uses the Oracle Java Wireless Client 3.2 codebase, which already runs on feature phones. As a starting point, the commercial release supports ARM devices, with an expansion promised at a later date.

As is Oracle’s way, there’s packaging of Java ME Embedded and Java Wireless Client 3.2 into a new Java ME SDK. This includes Eclipse plugins alongside the already offered NetBeans. There’s also a promise of a standard binary for rapid prototyping on ARM development boards in the future.

Oracle’s second release, Java Embedded Suite, effectively tying together their middleware options to run on heavier embedded devices. This includes the likes of Java SE Embedded 7 and Java DB, as well as a refocused Glassfish and Jersey for embedded development.

Nandini Ramini, Oracle’s VP of Engineering of Java Client and Mobile Platforms explained that the rapid growth in IoT has driven demand for increased capabilities in embedded devices.

She added:  “Java’s uniquely flexible architecture supports these requirements through a highly-secure virtual machine designed to support remote application updates and downloads. With the release of the new Oracle Java ME Embedded 3.2, Oracle now enables the connection of data and processes for small embedded M2M devices on ‘The Internet of Things’.”

Whether Oracle’s hand was forced somewhat by the increasing number of developers turning to proprietary offerings is up for debate. What is clear is that Oracle desperately needed to fill the void for embedded development and this release is their opening gambit.

Now the real task is to entice Java developers back into the fold, and Java Embedded @ JavaOne might just be the place to try and do that.

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