Click here to close now.


Java IoT Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Flint Brenton, Liz McMillan, Jennifer Gill

Related Topics: Java IoT, Open Source Cloud, Eclipse

Java IoT: Article

OSGi: An Overview of Its Impact on the Software Lifecycle

Getting ready for OSGi will involve changes to how you write applications and how you deploy and manage those applications

OSGi technology brings a number of much needed benefits to the Java enterprise application market, and is disruptive in that it impacts the software development, deployment, and management practices of many organizations. OSGi impacts deployment given the shared, modular nature of OSGi, meaning application code must be written differently to capitalize on the benefits of OSGi. Equally important, application management processes need to be adjusted, given the highly shared nature of OSGi modules across many applications. This article provides a high-level overview of OSGi, and the impact this framework is having on the software lifecycle.

What Is OSGi?
What started life as an acronym for the telecommunication industry's Open Services Gateway initiative (OSGi) has today expanded to cover Java development across industries and enterprises. Originally conceived and designed as a Java software framework to make it easier to build modular applications able to support always on, constrained environments such as a cell tower switch, OSGi is now being adopted by all the major enterprise Java software providers including all the major Java EE application server vendors (e.g., Oracle, IBM, JBoss). But what prompted the evolution of OSGi? Much like telecommunications services providers, most, if not all, enterprises are running applications or infrastructure that must stay "on" and support dynamic updating of new versions.

The OSGi framework covers three major areas: Bundles, Lifecycle, and Services. The Bundle layer is the most visible, and most used part of the OSGi framework. In short, the Bundle layer is represented as a JAR file (Java ARchive) that includes extra information about which parts of its content can be used by other applications, as well as its dependencies. The Lifecycle layer defines a sequence of steps that the bundles (your code) go through when installed, started, updated, stopped, and uninstalled. Having the lifecycle explicitly defined allows the code in the bundle to start managing its own resources. Equally important, the Lifecycle layer helps administrators catch issues early as OSGi mandates that all external dependencies be resolved before a bundle can be used. If the dependencies cannot be resolved, an error is logged before the bundle starts. Clearly, this is a much better process than getting a phone call in the middle of the night during a critical process run. The Services layer exposes services running code objects that can be called from other code running in the OSGi server. The big difference for OSGi Services is that the framework allows the service implementation to change at runtime - the concept of dynamic updating referenced earlier.

The positive impacts of OSGi on the application development process are clear, but what about application deployment and management? And why is deployment and management even important to the developer?

For more insight into why OSGi (, and the details of the OSGi specification, you should go to the OSGi Alliance site at

Impact on Developing Applications
The most visible OSGi change for Java developers is the OSGi Bundle layer. As indicated earlier, this is extra information that is included with the code that explicitly says which Java packages others can use (export), and which Java packages are needed at runtime from others (imports). This additional information allows a developer to be more explicit in code dependencies than ever before, making it significantly easier for teams of developers to work together, and benefitting the overall code maintenance process. In fact, OSGi has been described as providing true Java application modules.

There is also version information about imports and exports, which allows multiple versions of Java libraries (e.g., hibernate or log4j) to be deployed on the same server at the same time and not cause of the traditional conflicts which developers encountered.

As developers get more sophisticated with OSGi, they will better understand the critical importance of the Lifecycle layer. At the most basic, it's a great place to get (start) and release (stop) external resources such as database connections. This eliminates the need to generate the often complicated code required to safely manage connections in the middle of your code.

Some will eventually look at the OSGi Service layer; most to access existing capabilities such as configuration management and logging. Some will share and consume code in different bundles (modules) using OSGi services to take full advantage of runtime versioning of components. Imagine the ability to install a patch to an application module in a running system without needing to write lots of fancy code into your application. That's what OSGi services offer the enterprise developer.

Deploying an OSGi Application
We've already talked about developers putting dependency information into their code bundles, streamlining the deployment process. When you install an OSGi bundle into a server, you can ask the server if all of the dependencies are present, what those dependencies are, and if some are missing, what (and what versions) are missing. All this dependency checking happens before the code is started, so you can catch issues early (before you pager goes off). It also enables the ability to record the full dependency tree, including versions, of an application at any point so you can better track changes to your system and how that relates to application changes.

Several OSGi servers, such as Apache ServiceMix ( or the productized distribution Fuse ESB (, allow OSGi bundles to be installed and upgraded from Apache Maven repositories. Maven is a build system that can keep software artifacts within a set of locations (repositories) with a number of build time advantages for automatically downloading all dependent code libraries such that a code build can run. For deployment teams, this allows for much closer coordination between themselves and the development team as all team members are working against a common repository. This allows deployment teams to update running systems with a single command once a patch has passed all QA tests.

Managing an OSGi Application
One of the biggest advantages, and potential challenges, for managing an OSGi-based application is the amount of code (bundle) sharing between applications. This can present a challenge for traditional management processes as extra consideration must be given to updating a bundle. For example, how will one update impact other bundle(s)? The good news is that there are a growing number of tools for OSGi that make it much easier to understand the dependencies, and the potential impact, of updating or removing code bundles from a system.

Another advantage of OSGi-based applications is the ability to leverage the OSGi Configuration Admin service, which allows systems administrators to package, change and audit changes to the configuration of bundle properties. For example, the host name and port of the database that a given bundle should access can be managed as OSGi configuration properties giving the administrator a common way to see those properties, make runtime changes, and audit changes.

This article provides a high-level overview of the impact of OSGi to the enterprise software development, deployment, and management lifecycle. The impact of OSGi across the software development lifecycle means that applications can be more robust and dynamic than ever before, including to the ability to develop and deploy applications that never, ever are unavailable. Getting ready for OSGi will involve changes to how you write applications and how you deploy and manage those applications, so try to think of both technology and process changes as you learn more about OSGi.

More Stories By Scott Cranton

Scott Cranton is a Principle Solutions Engineer at 
FuseSource ( He is a veteran in the enterprise software field with more than 20 years of experience as an architect, consultant, and product manager. Scott has worked with many Fortune 100 enterprises in many industries, including Telecommunications, Financial Services, Energy, and Retail.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound cha...
We are rapidly moving to a brave new world of interconnected smart homes, cars, offices and factories known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Sensors and monitoring devices will touch every part of our lives. Let's take a closer look at the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is a worldwide network of objects and devices connected to the Internet. They are electronics, sensors, software and more. These objects connect to the Internet and can be controlled remotely via apps and programs. Because they can be accessed via the Internet, these devices create a tremendous opportunity to inte...
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context with p...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.