Java IoT Authors: Andreas Grabner, John Mertic, Elizabeth White, Ruxit Blog, Liz McMillan

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 (http://www.osgi.org/About/WhyOSGi), and the details of the OSGi specification, you should go to the OSGi Alliance site at http://www.osgi.org.

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 (http://servicemix.apache.org) or the productized distribution Fuse ESB (http://fusesource.com), 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 (http://fusesource.com). 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
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
If you had a chance to enter on the ground level of the largest e-commerce market in the world – would you? China is the world’s most populated country with the second largest economy and the world’s fastest growing market. It is estimated that by 2018 the Chinese market will be reaching over $30 billion in gaming revenue alone. Admittedly for a foreign company, doing business in China can be challenging. Often changing laws, administrative regulations and the often inscrutable Chinese Interne...
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
SYS-CON Events announced today that Streamlyzer will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Streamlyzer is a powerful analytics for video streaming service that enables video streaming providers to monitor and analyze QoE (Quality-of-Experience) from end-user devices in real time.
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Cloud based infrastructure deployment is becoming more and more appealing to customers, from Fortune 500 companies to SMEs due to its pay-as-you-go model. Enterprise storage vendors are able to reach out to these customers by integrating in cloud based deployments; this needs adaptability and interoperability of the products confirming to cloud standards such as OpenStack, CloudStack, or Azure. As compared to off the shelf commodity storage, enterprise storages by its reliability, high-availabil...
The IoT industry is now at a crossroads, between the fast-paced innovation of technologies and the pending mass adoption by global enterprises. The complexity of combining rapidly evolving technologies and the need to establish practices for market acceleration pose a strong challenge to global enterprises as well as IoT vendors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Smith, senior product manager for Numerex, will discuss how Numerex, as an experienced, established IoT provider, has embraced a ...
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
“Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CloudBerry Backup is a leading cross-platform cloud backup and disaster recovery solution integrated with major public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue an...