Tuesday Sep 24, 2013

Session Report: Internet of Things with Java

by Timothy Beneke

Jai Suri, Group Product Manager, Java Platform, at Oracle, with Oracle Embedded Java architect, Noel Poore, gave a session that was both practical and visionary, titled “Internet of Things with Java” that provided a glimpse of the challenges and prospects faced by the coming Internet of Things (IoT). Suri was quick to point out that the session was not a showcase of Oracle solutions for IoT; nor would it provide best practices or design patterns for IoT. “It’s too early and we’re not there yet,” said Suri.

He pointed out that the potential range of IoT applications is vast, from home and industrial automation to improved healthcare. His team has been spending a lot of time and effort trying to figure out how Java fits into the IoT space.

The IoT market is relatively new and evolving, and full of proprietary technologies with, as yet, no standardization. The biggest challenge Java faces is creating a horizontal technology stack that addresses a wide range of needs and challenges. IoT, he pointed out is nothing new – machines connecting with other machines go back to the dawn of computing. But recently, new technologies have made it more accessible than ever before. In the US, Comcast offers XFINITY home automation offering remote monitoring, temperature, lighting and small appliance control, real-time alerts when doors or windows are opened, and more. In Europe, Deutsche Telekom offers a similar system.

In health care, remote patient monitoring is an area of rapid growth. IoT is making a difference in industrial automation and business optimization and efficiency. Other segments of IoT growth include building management, energy, consumer, retail, IT and networks. Research groups are predicting a market of somewhere around $350 Billion by 2017, some of which will be committed to technology.

According to Suri, various factors are driving the growth in IoT. First, connected devices are growing rapidly, with shipments expected to range from $50B to $200B by 2020. Moore’s law is allowing devices to become smarter and, as a result, connectivity is cheaper. Extra bandwidth is available to be redeployed for data traffic and channels are being created that allow companies to move data more cheaply.

IoT traffic data is being stored in databases to be analyzed, so data is growing rapidly. Business opportunities are increasing as the number of devices connected to the cloud allowing for the tracking of shipments, cars and other things grows.

Why is this different from a simple client and server? First the number of web, desktop and mobile applications talking to a server is rapidly increasing. Devices may be on batteries, Wifi, Bluetooth or a long range network – the complexity is huge. And most of these devices do not have a human operating them.

IoT lacks any standard protocol for communication among devices. Protocols depend upon the industry. In home automation, Bluetooth is common along with short range radio networks. Ultimately it is about how users get and receive data from devices. Suri pointed out that most developers give little thought to security. When he joined Oracle he received a badge that allows him to access and send protected data; the badge provides his identity, which governs access. But how do we put an identity on a temperature sensor connected to our home gateway? Or on data about our medical condition?

Some companies are building data centers that allow companies to connect their enterprise applications to a data center so they won’t have to worry about scaling. But is this the right approach when a company has invested millions of dollars in enterprise infrastructure? Why leverage what you already have?

Suri summarized the critical issues:
--Communication across multiple-protocol networks
--End-to-end security
--Software provisioning & lifecycle management across diverse devices
--Data acquisition from thousands of diverse devices
--Managing large volumes of fast data in a scalable architecture
--Leveraging existing enterprise architectures for evolving IoT needs

With most IoT solutions currently being written from scratch, the need for a horizontal platform seems obvious.

How Java Fits In
Noel Poore then showed how Java is the best fit for IoT, emphasizing that his focus was on the IoT with Java and not the Java Internet of Things. In a situation so fragmented with different device drivers, chip sets, operating systems and so on, the availability of a platform that allows developers to move code around with little worry about which device is running it is ideal.

Managing 50 billion devices sensibly and scalably constitutes a huge challenge. Poore presented a conceptual architecture with the pieces that need to be in place for a horizontal IoT platform to work. This would enable developers to build solutions based on platform rather than rebuilding the solution every time a different IoT problem must be solved. The conceptual architecture begins with wireless and wired sensors feeding into an initial gateway which feeds into a core network; in addition smart sensors may bypass the initial gateway and go directly to the network. The network feeds into an IoT communication gateway, which in turn feeds access management, IoT management and data routing and analysis. The first of these two feed into identity access and management, while data routing and analysis is sent to enterprise business and business intelligence to attempt to gain value from the data.

Suri closed by summarizing the take-home points of the session:

* IoT technologies are a “Wild West” full of proprietary implementations and a highly fragmented vendor ecosystem.
* Java enables an open and standards-based secure IoT platform that seamlessly integrates devices with enterprise applications.
* But significant innovations are needed across the platform and the ecosystem products to make this vision a reality.
* The good news is that Java is ahead of the curve, and very well positioned to become the de facto platform for IoT applications.

Look for podcasts of JavaOne sessions at Parleys.com starting in early October.

Monday Sep 23, 2013

More on the JavaOne 2013 Strategy Keynote - IBM's Java Focus

John Duimovich, Java CTO and IBM Distinguished Engineer, took the stage at Sunday’s JavaOne 2013 keynote and stated that IBM had a new approach to this year’s JavaOne. They arrived at JavaOne with 20 developers of all ranks, giving 28 sessions -- and only one marketing person. This was consistent with a mantra he repeated throughout his keynote: “It’s a great time to be a developer.” Duimovich also commented several times that developers ultimately have a lot of power, a recognition that leads IBM to shape many policies around the needs and desires of developers.

“With so many frameworks, languages and tools available, developers have all they need to create great applications,” he observed. “With the cloud and PaaS it is easy to go to market and, in fact, possible to take a good idea, test it, and deploy it within a day.” This, he insisted, has changed the landscape for developers. Since Java is the leading platform being used to deploy to the cloud, along with Javascript and HTML5, IBM will continue to follow and invest in developers.

Systems of Interaction and Engagement
Duimovich identified an interesting turn of events. “There is a new class of application development out there now called systems of interaction, which are typically delivered via the cloud." “Systems of interaction” is a term that encompasses what has traditionally been called systems of record, which are what many Java developers work with in Java EE using containers and databases in such domains as business process-oriented bank accounts and HR systems.

He observed that there are new and growing open cloud ecosystems centered around such platforms and projects as CloudFoundry and OpenStack, offering the next “big thing” for developers -- the ability to access a whole open stack and write applications. “What’s different about IBM is that we are investing in open things a bit earlier in their life cycle,” said Duimovich. “We don’t wait until they are done and competing with us. We try to influence them early.”

New applications are being developed that offer systems of interaction which he characterized as user-centric applications specifically targeted to support user work flow.  These are mobile apps similar to what is in a phone or a car that bridge both systems of record and social networks. “So the application might take Twitter or Facebook into account, while bridging big data and bring together capabilities that drive user-focused applications,” explained Duimovich. “You are on the way to the airport and the app tells you the plane is late; you take off and the app tells you about the weather in the city of arrival. After that, you might be interested in where to buy new clothes because your luggage is still at the airline.”

Such applications have contextual “awareness” driving them. All of this is driven by the cloud as systems of record get pushed out to the cloud as services. “IBM has created an experimental platform that developers can try out called IBM BlueMix which is based on OpenSource and CloudFoundry,” said Duimovich. “It has runtimes and frameworks, like Java, and new ones like Node, and other scripting languages like Ruby.”

IBM BlueMix offers standard services such as database, caching, and messaging, but also includes new ones like social information, and location and geo-spatial database information. “This is all brought together so the enterprise can engage with their customers in a much richer way -- the way they do that is via the cloud.”

Java Innovation at IBM
He discussed the IBM WebSphere Liberty Buildpack, which is freely available for developers. It can be downloaded and pushed to any Cloud Foundry-based system. “This is our first step in making Java to PaaS deployment as easy as possible for developers.” Liberty is a Java profile that supports Java EE and is a container offering lots of features for clouds.

IBM has also been working on a multi-tenancy JVM, which means the VM can run and stack more VMs inside of it to save space and enable faster startup performance. This allows developers to manage life cycles independently. It’s intended for those who want to get more dense and efficient deployment on the cloud. “Just as peanut butter and chocolate go together – Liberty and multi-tenancy VMs are delicious,” said Duimovich.

He explained that running the Liberty profile and on the multi-tenancy JDK results in 2-3 times faster startup and twice as much density, so developers can stack twice as many instances on a machine than before without loss of performance.

Duimovich closed with some remarks about hardware innovation at IBM, and where the Java language may be headed in the future.

IBM BlueMix

IBM WebSphere Liberty Buildpack

Watch Keynote and Session Highlights on Demand

Thursday Feb 21, 2013

Register Now for Devoxx UK and Devoxx France 2013

There's only a little over a month to go before Devoxx UK on March 26 and 27 in London and Devoxx France on March 27 to 29 in Paris. The conference schedules are up and space is tight, so register today before they are sold out!

"Cloud, architecture and security" is a new conference track this year. Other tracks are Java SE, methodologies, Java EE, web & big data, new languages on the JVM, and future Devoxx. Developers will get a shot at peer discussions in Bird-of-a-Feathers, learn tips and tricks during quickies and get in-depth technical information in hour-long talks or in the three hour hands-on-labs.  "You could learn something that will help in your day job. Maybe it's a better use of patterns, technologies or methodologies you're utilizing right now" explains Trisha Gee, one of the Devoxx organizers

The conference also presents great networking opportunities with leaders in the Java community and renowned speakers who wrote popular technical books. Some of those well-known speakers are Kirk Pepperdine, Peter Pilgrim, Stephen Chin, Arun Gupta, and Markus Eisele, just to name a few.

Oracle is a European Platinum Partner of the three Devoxx conferences in the U.K., France and Belgium. Come and join us in London and Paris next month.

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