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JavaOne 2014 - Day One and Eclipse IoT Announcement

| by Ben Evans Follow 28 Followers on Sep 30, 2014. Estimated reading time: 5 minutes |

The first day of JavaOne 2014 saw Oracle executives focused more on consolidation and their delivery of Java SE 8 and EE 7. New product announcements were thin on the ground, and trouble dogged the opening keynote. Very late running caused the cancellation of a panel, and IBM's keynote speech, delivered by John Duimovich was widely criticised on Twitter by attendees. The late running also caused the technical part of the keynote, to have been delivered by Oracle's Brian Goetz, to be severely curtailed.

The skipped section contained Goetz's material on efforts such as Project Panama (Java to native code integration) and Project Valhalla (next-generation JVM technology, as reported on InfoQ), which many felt to have been the real meat of the technical keynote.

The disappointing keynotes were counterpointed by a hugely successful community day, with many talks delivered by Java community participants (from within Oracle and the wider ecosystem) being at capacity. James Gosling (the creator of Java) hosted a standing-room-only session on robots and the IoT, and an example of the WaveRider robot (his latest project) was on display in Oracle's Java Hub and Demogrounds. A wide variety of other sessions had strong attendance, with topics such as IoT, OpenJDK and Netbeans being strongly represented.

Elsewhere, the Eclipse Foundation triggered considerable excitement with their announcement of their Open IoT Stack for Java. Their blog post claims: "Based on open source and open standards, the Open IoT Stack for Java simplifies IoT development by allowing developers to re-use a core set of frameworks and services in their IoT solutions."

InfoQ spoke with Mike Milinkovich, Executive Director at the Eclipse Foundation about the release of Open IoT Stack for Java.

InfoQ: How long have Eclipse been working on the IoT announcement?

Milinkovich: Three years. Our first projects were Sierra Wireless (a Lua device gateway framework and IDE) and IBM's MQTT protocol implementation. We announced these at EclipseCon Europe 2011. Since then, there's been steady recruitment of new projects, and we're now up to 17. Most developers hear "Eclipse" and think tools, but none of these IoT projects are tools. Instead, we have device frameworks and gateways, protocols, building blocks - and of course they're all free and open-source, vendor-neutral software.

InfoQ: Do you have any stats and key metrics ?

Milinkovich: One of the downsides of open-source is that we suck at stats! We could find out a figure for total downloads, but without adoption that's a pretty misleading number.

InfoQ: So what are the challenges and opportunities around adoption ?

Milinkovich: Once we have an ecosystem of device gateways and initial products, one of the big challenges is the sheer number of developers required to implement IoT. VisionMobile have estimated that there are currently 300k IoT developers. If we're really going to ship 70 billion devices, then they estimate we'll need over 4 million IoT developers by 2020. This is a huge challenge, but with Eclipse IoT this is also a great opportunity. To enable that many developers, we will need free and open-source technologies and to put developers at centre stage, and this is the Eclipse advantage.

InfoQ: We've heard the "85% of software is now including open-source code" statistic. Any thoughts about that?

Milinkovich: Who are the losers shipping the other 15%? This shift is pure supply and demand. I'm going to recall Marc Andreessen's "Software is eating the world." That was more a post about web companies offering services. I mean something slightly different - the end of closed, special purpose hardware, and a move towards general purpose compute platforms, with small incremental business value on top of FOSS stacks. I see this trend as inevitable and IoT is a big part of that. If we look at companies like Google and Facebook, they depend on infinite scalability of software. In the IoT, companies can't pay $1.50 per device for a software stack. If that was the world we had to live in, then IoT would collapse under its own weight.

InfoQ: What are the risks to IoT?

Milinkovich: Lots! Let's start with Security, Privacy and Identity management.

We haven't solved these yet for the Internet, and IoT is a step beyond. If you're upset about the NSA now, just wait until they're monitoring when you're home, which room you're in, what your heartbeat is when you're with your wife...

Developing software for things is different, fundamentally different to developing software for web sites. Popular software development practices, like continuous deployment, have all too often turned into "don't do testing". You can't do that when upgrades are impossible with small embedded devices, or where the cost to upgrade a device is uneconomical.

The current ethics of build quality isn't going to work in IoT. It can't. Proper QA testing is going to have to come back, and this is a problem, because we've collectively educated a generation of developers to ignore good testing practice. That's going to have repercussions.


InfoQ: What do the next 18 months look like for Eclipse IoT?

Milinkovich: Adoption and recruitment. We need to see our tech start to appear in products. Eclipse means good quality, IP-free technology and software building blocks. We need to see shipping products based on that. We also want to see recruitment - more projects and more markets supported. We have 17 IoT projects, and plenty of room for more. As this is JavaOne, I'm talking about Java IoT, but Eclipse has other projects, in python, lua, C and C++. If you have other platforms, come and talk to us.

InfoQ: Any final thoughts?

Milinkovich: IoT is currently at the pinnacle of the Gartner Hype Cycle. We've seen endless "strategy of the week" press releases, various companies making noise about "getting into IoT". At Eclipse, we think that developers are making more tech choices, and our message is: Pick free and open-source software from a vendor-neutral, openly governed organisation, and don't get captured by a particular vendor.

More information about Eclipse's IoT program for Java can be found at: http://iot.eclipse.org/java/

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