Will OSGi Ever Infiltrate the Enterprise?

Jessica Thornsby

“Right now, OSGi is the most widely acclaimed technology that nobody is using,” writes Kirk Knoerschild.

“Of the more than 6 million Java developers worldwide, those using OSGi and designing modular applications is only a very small fraction,” states Kirk Knoerschild in his latest blog post.

Why is this the case? Knoerschild has a few thoughts on the matter.

Two of the technological factors hindering OSGi adoption – particularly in the enterprise – include a lack of platform and tooling support for building OSGi based server-side applications. In a previous blog, Knoerschild listed SpringSource dm Server and Paremus Infiniflow as the only products he was aware of, which allowed the developer to use OSGi as the host environment. However, dm Server was recently donated to the Eclipse Foundation. Knoerschild acknowledges this is a positive move for the open source community, but he interprets it as an indication that dm Server wasn’t doing too well, despite the rarity of its support for Hosted OSGi development.

The other problem he perceives with OSGi in its current state, is not a technology problem, but an image one. He has encountered people in the industry who believe OSGi to be an outdated, boring topic, partly because OSGi’s roots can be traced back over forty years. And, in the IT industry, who wants to hear about a forty year old technology, when there’s always the Next Big Thing just around the corner?

“The problem is not that OSGi isn’t a great technology with real benefits,” he writes “the problem is that nobody cares about modularity.” In his opinion, dressing up the principles of OSGi in a new, trendy guise, and selling this revamped version of OSGi to the enterprise, could be the way forward.

“My little pontification here should in no way be interpreted as questioning whether OSGi is capable, but instead whether OSGi will,” he concludes.

There are a few positive indications for the future of OSGi in the enterprise. The recent Apache Aries project delivers a set of pluggable Java components for open source implementations of current and future OSGi EEG specifications. Even more encouragingly, IBM are currently running an open beta of their WebSphere Application Server V7 Feature Pack for OSGi Applications and Java Persistence API (JPA) 2.0 product. This product offers optionally installable, standards-based implementations of the OSGi Blueprint service specification and Java EE 6 JPA 2.0. Maybe IBM’s backing, can finally help push OSGi into the enterprise?

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