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When Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems back in 2010, it began a multi-year process to re-invigorate Java. Ahead of the JavaOne conference next week, Oracle is now taking its next major step with Java by releasing a new embedded mobile suite designed for the new world of machine-to-machine-based communications.
Peter Utzschneider, VP Product Management at Oracle, told Datamation that over the last two years Oracle has gotten Java back on track, with the release of Java 7 in 2011 and an improved Java Community Process. Over the course of the last year, Oracle has been focused on trying to figure out how it could further Java in the embedded mobile space.
"We see a great opportunity for Java in the machine-to-machine space to provide an abstraction layer to overcome some of the chip fragmentation that is out there," Utzschneider said. "In so doing we can provide a common open portable development platform, so application developers can focus on applications and not get stuck by the underlying hardware choices."
So what Oracle is now doing is providing a new software released called Java ME Embedded 3.2. That release is based on Java ME (Mobile Edition) that Sun had been developing for years as a technology for feature phones. The Java ME Embedded release strips out the feature phone components and provides a generic platform for any embedded platform.
"This brings the product portfolio and the size of devices that Java can run on down to the small microcontroller device level," Utzschneider said.
Utzschneider added that Java ME Embedded can run on a device with as little as 100 or 200k in memory.
In addition to the Java ME Embedded 3.2 release, Oracle is releasing a Java Embedded Suite that includes middleware server components. Utzschneider explained that the suite includes an embedded version of the Oracle Glassfish middleware server as well as JavaDB and the Java SE runtime.
As to why an embedded device might need middleware, Utzschneider explained that embedded devices may need to have an application stack. For example, in-home gateway devices for security or network connectivity need to have some kind of user interface and they need to be able to communicate between network devices.
"A lot of different companies are going after the home gateway market," Utzschneider said. "So whether it's an ADT with security or it's the cable or phone providers, they are all pushing to be the gateway for your home."
All those gateway devices will require some form of middleware webserver on them and Oracle wants it to be Java. Part of getting Java further into the embedded space will involve building further awareness.
"Our experience is that the embedded market is so fragmented such that people don't know what Java can support today," Utzschneider said. "The biggest challenge is helping to educate the market as well as the developer community that there are opportunities in the embedded space."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eSecurity Planet and InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.