IoT needs Java

Java is a key component of the Internet of Things, according to an Oracle executive.

During a panel session at Oracle Open World, Oracle Senior Vice President Peter Utzschneider said Java is key to the creation of the Internet of Things as there are not enough developers to create the necessary software for each type of device separately.

Java has been around for years, and has amassed a community of nine million developers. While there has been some fragmentation of versions, "we're... building a common platform," he said.

The arrival of Java 8 next March will be "a dramatic leap forward," Utzschneider. There are currently three versions of Java relevant to devices, but one is being retired and the other two (SE and ME) will have more commonality in terms of language and APIs.

This means code will be more reusable between projects involving larger and smaller devices (in terms of processing power and memory size), and it will also allow developers to be moved between projects more readily.

Oracle Senior Vice President Chris Baker said a standard platform is needed for the Internet of Things along with standardised, preconfigured systems so that people can get on with writing specific applications (without having to worry about the plumbing). The 'write once, deploy to many' model will be essential to making the task feasible..

"We believe the Internet of Things is going to hit every industry," he said, but with nine million Java developers there is "a huge economy out there."

Asked whether the insecurity of Java could be a liability for the Internet of Things, Utzschneider said recent issues involved the browser plug-in for Java rather than Java itself. Oracle is "on a concrete path to get thorough that," he said, and suggested the fundamental security of Java had been proved on SIM cards and smart cards.

Responding to a suggestion that Oracle may be planning to charge for Java components that were previously free of charge, Utzschneider said the company's policy is that parts that are currently free will remain that way. Items subject to a licensing fee (eg, $US0.60 for a very low-power device) generally will not change, though some may be released without charge. For example, Java for ARM-based servers and for the Raspberry Pi are free.

The writer attended Oracle Open World as the guest of Oracle.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.