Embedded Java - the Mouse that is about to Roar
Embedded Java Needs to be Leveraged Very Differently than Most Other Java Technologies.
One of the main reasons that Embedded Java has not enjoyed wide-spread success to date is that it is a significantly different technology than almost every other technology in the Java ecosystem. Due to this difference it did not benefit very much from the strategies used to market Java in general. Beyond this, the high growth rates that the other areas of Java experienced since Java's inception made the task of figuring out how to market Embedded Java a low-priority item.
A precise way to explain why Embedded Java did not grow like most other areas of Java is that Embedded Java lives within a different fitscape than they do. As Max Goff explains in his new book "Fitscapes and Fallacies", a fitscape is a "fitness landscape" within which a technology "lives" and it consists of all the constantly changing environmental factors that a technology needs to adapt to in order to be marketable.
The Embedded Systems and Enterprise Systems Spaces - Oil and Water.
When it became evident around 2000-2001 that Embedded Java was not experiencing the growth rates that it should, various members of the Embedded Java community started researching the cause of this and the following diagram illustrates what was discovered:
This diagram is deceptively simple and yet extremely important because it not only explains one of the main reasons why Embedded Java has not been very successful to date, it also shows how Embedded Java can give Enterprise Systems companies access to a huge, new lucrative market.
Critical Pieces of Information that are Indicated by the Diagram
1) The Embedded Systems community is almost completely blind to the contents of the Enterprise space and the Enterprise Java community is equally blind to the contents of the Embedded System's space.
The main reason why Embedded Java has not found a strong market to date is that Java is a product of the Computer Science community and since 90%+ of the Java community has a Computer Science-only background, they are barely even aware that the Embedded Systems space exists. Computer Science does not give the background needed to see that unique strategies are required for marketing Embedded Java in the embedded systems space. For a more detailed explanation of the differences between these two spaces see:
2) A huge, lucrative sensor-to-boardroom market is currently being created that very few of the companies that live exclusively in either the Embedded Systems or Enterprise Systems spaces are in a position to pursue.
For decades the Embedded Systems and Computer Science spaces have evolved almost completely separately from each other. Internet technologies, however, are finally forcing the communities that live within these two areas to start learning about each other in order to be able to solve the "sensor to boardroom" imperative that is beginning to pressure companies at all levels.
The rising levels of global competition created by the Internet is relentlessly driving all organizations to operate increasingly more efficiently and this is forcing companies to automate the monitoring and control of all of their operations. Due to the orthogonal nature of the Embedded Systems and Enterprise Systems areas, however, sensor-to-boardroom technologies are extremely difficult to develop because these technologies span both of them. This scenario is aptly described by the saying that "oil and water don't mix".
The Enterprise Systems community is currently in the process of building out the sensor-to-boardroom vision but they are almost completely blocked from accessing almost any aspect of the physical world for monitoring and control purposes due to the Computer Science-only background of most of its members.
Conversely, the Embedded Systems community can easily access almost any aspect of the physical world for monitoring and control purposes but it has almost no understanding of object-oriented Enterprise Computing technologies. Furthermore, this community has little understanding of business as a whole, the skills needed to turn a profit or the nature of the increasing levels of global competition that the Internet is creating. In short, the Embedded Systems community is almost completely unaware that a sensor-to-boardroom imperative even exists.
3) The Embedded Java community is small but potentially very important because its members have an intimate knowledge of both areas.
By definition, an Embedded Java developer not only has a solid understanding of the Computer Science concepts upon which Enterprise Systems are built, they also have a strong background in Embedded Systems. The Embedded Java community is in a unique position to act as a bridge between the Embedded Systems and Enterprise Systems communities thereby enabling the creation of sensor-to-boardroom systems which are required to span both spaces.
4) The initial companies in the Enterprise Systems space that have the vision to realize the unique nature of the Embedded Java community, and to leverage it, should be able to capture a significant portion of the sensor-to-boardroom market.
Of all the companies which live in the Enterprise Systems space, Sun Microsystems is probably in the best position to leverage the Embedded Java community for the purpose of pursuing the sensor-to-boardroom market. Even though the Embedded Java community has remained mostly unnoticed by Sun to date, members of the Embedded Java community have paid close attention to Sun's vision of how network distributed computing should develop over the next 10 years.
If, however, the larger Enterprise Space companies like Sun do not start moving into the sensor-to-boardroom market soon, the smaller more agile companies in this space, like JBoss Inc., are likely to make the first move and capture the initial market.
Various members of the new java.net Embedded Java community are in the process of developing a completely new kind of Embedded Java system called "Enterprise Outpost" which is specifically designed to help companies crack open the sensor-to-boardroom market. This new embedded system is built almost entirely with open source and open hardware technologies and it is based on J2SE 5.0
Over the next couple of months I will be using this blog to describe the Enterprise Outpost concept and how it can help companies solve the sensor-to-boardroom problem :-)