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By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2007-03-06 Print this article Print

BEAs mSA (microService Architecture) Backplane is an OSGi-based infrastructure that consists of about 100 different OSGi bundles. "The OSGi specification is an important standard for IBM, since it has been sorely missing from Java," said BJ Hargrave, a senior technical staff member at IBM and an OSGi fellow and chief technology officer of the OSGI Alliance. "Were already seeing a huge demand in the community for the OSGi capabilities and are leveraging them in our own products. This is mature, robust and tested technology. With the adoption of the OSGi technology by Eclipse, IBM is able to take advantage of the OSGi capabilities in many of our products that are based upon Eclipse such as Lotus Expeditor, Lotus Sametime, WebSphere Application Server, Tivoli Provisioning Manager and the entire Rational Software Delivery Platform." "OSGi is a dynamic system that can be updated on the fly," said Daniel Schellhoss, executive vice president at ProSyst Software, of Cologne, Germany. "New services, applications and even the framework components can be updated or added to while the system is running. All of the components can be dynamically loaded from a variety of sources, including Web pages, content servers or insertable media. This allows dynamic injection of new services behind the scenes while the system continues to function.
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"Being a company that is offering both commercial OSGi framework implementations as well as open-source products and a complete set of development services, support and training on top of it, OSGi is what we do for living," Schellhoss added. "We help our customers, which are device manufacturers, service providers or enterprise software companies, to make their products a success. There are products out there in the market from Philips, Motorola, Siemens, among many others that run the ProSyst OSGi framework." Eric Newcomer, CTO of IONA Technologies, of Waltham, Mass., said his company is using OSGi as part of the Eclipse SOA Tools Platform Project. "We have two levels of interest: one thats consistent with the most popular use of OSGi, which is for deployment," Newcomer said. "Eclipse plug-ins are delivered using OSGi bundles, and this has proven the usefulness of OSGi in large software projects." However, "the other part of OSGi were interested in is not as well-adopted, and that is its capability to become a run-time container, or execution environment." In particular, said Newcomer, "we feel OSGi has the potential to offer an alternative to JEE [Java Enterprise Edition], especially when customers do not need all of the features and functions of a JEE application server. Right now JEE is kind of like a big box of rocks—you get everything inside whether you need it or not, and you have to sort through and pick out the stuff you really need. With OSGi you would have the capability to select and configure a more customized run-time for your specific purpose. And in the specific case of SOA, I think its been pretty clearly established by now that JEE is overkill." So a large part of IONAs interest in OSGi "is that it provides a kind of configurable microkernel architecture that we think has a lot of potential to become a cheaper, better, less complex container for SOA infrastructure than JEE," Newcomer said. Jeff McAffer, a senior technical staff member of IBM Rational and head of the Eclipse Equinox project, which implements OSGI, said, "Three years ago Eclipse had a proprietary run-time. It was somewhat like the OSGi design but static and had a coarser-grained dependency mechanism. At that time the community was pushing Eclipse to be a rich-client platform and that required changes at the run-time level. In addition, we wanted a run-time that had a community and standards around it rather than trying to sell yet another component model. We also wanted a run-time that was more dynamic. After evaluating various run-times of the day, we adopted OSGi." Indeed, not only has Eclipse benefited from OSGi, but the Eclipse adoption of the technology put OSGi on the map, McAffer said. Next Page: OSGi is central to Eclipse.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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