Micro devices have always suffered from a limited resource set, but as technology gets cheaper and smaller, what is considered small in 2012 is much different from what was considered small in 2002. Furthermore, with performance improvements in the JVM and modular technologies like OSGi allowing applications to load and respond faster, Oracle has found that a wide range of embedded devices are now capable of running more software than ever before.
A new role for the middle tier server
Given this new reality in the mobile and embedded devices space, Oracle has made a bold move by making their Glassfish application server the central part of their new embedded offering, the Oracle Java Embedded Suite. That's right, the middle tier application server that used to reside only behind firewalls in large data centers is now being pushed onto the millions, if not billions, of embedded devices that are flooding the market.
"This is a product which oracle has brought to market to bring value added services for embedded devices," says Georges Saab, Oracle's VP of Development for the Java Platform. "Oracle's Embedded Suite includes a Java runtime which will allow you to run Java applications. It includes JavaDB, a database to allow you to securely store information on your embedded device. It has an application server with a Web profile - the Glassfish server - and finally a framework for hosting and accessing Web services - named Jersey."
At the JavaOne Embedded conference, a wafer thin embedded device that was smaller than a Ritz cracker was loaded up with the Java Embedded Suite. Because the tiny device astonishingly included built-in WiFi support, which is now becoming commonplace, the device was able to perform device to device interactions using both the Jersey support for Web Services and the Web profile of the built-in Glassfish server.
Making embedded development easier
Of course, this type of functionality isn't completely revolutionary. Many companies have made a living building these types of solutions for mobile and embedded devices. What is new is the fact that the solution is being bundled together by Oracle. Organizations no longer have to do the low level plumbing previously needed to get these types of technologies to work properly on an embedded device. "Oracle’s Java Embedded Suite reduces risk, facilitates a faster time to market, is more portable between devices and provides a great partner in support,” says Georges Saab. “By using this solution from Oracle it allows you to focus on that thing that you're doing rather than building all of the plumbing."
With new embedded devices becoming less constrained by memory and processing power, along with the increasing availability of built in networking support, Oracle's new Java Embedded Suite offering, which is optimized and tuned with memory constraints in mind, will ensure that Java will continue to be the dominant programming language for developing applications for the embedded market.