We here-under publish Beecham Research’s snaps#34 on Open Source M2M, an article written by Bill Ingle at Beecham Research, Ltd.
“Open source software offers the potential of expanding usage and re-using software code for multiple applications, reducing both cost and time to market. Combining open source software’s “write once, use often” with a developer community enabled by open source software’s royalty-free nature could lead to a greater and faster expansion of the overall M2M market.
The Open Source Initiative (OSI) created “Open Source” as a replacement for the Free Software Foundation’s 1985 “free software” term, which OSI believed was ambiguous and poorly suited for the commercial world.
Lawrence Rosen, who served as OSI’s general counsel and secretary, emphasizes the importance of having a clear definition of “open source” in his article Defining Open Standards and summarizes “the principles that apply to all open source software” as:
“Licensees are free to
1. …use open source software for any purpose whatsoever.
2. …make copies of open source software and to distribute them without payment of royalties to a licensor.
3. …create derivative works of open source software and to distribute them without payment of royalties to a licensor.
4. …access and use the source code of open source software.
5. …combine open source and other software.”
A good example of open source software is Linux, the operating system. As Eric S. Raymond, co-founder of OSI, wrote in The Cathedral and the Bazaar: “Who would have thought even five years ago (1991) that a world-class operating system could coalesce as if by magic out of part-time hacking by several thousand developers scattered all over the planet, connected only by the tenuous strands of the Internet?”
The idea of a large community of software programmers, loosely organized and connected by the Internet, all contributing to the development of particular software — and expanding the market for it in the process — is central to both Raymond’s book and the original concept of open source software.
Although Apple’s software is proprietary, a similar kind of situation is seen in development activity surrounding “apps” for its smart phones and tablets, wherein a very large community has quickly sprung up. Meanwhile, Google’s Android is of an open source nature. The overall market for “apps” and the devices they run on — featuring competing open source and proprietary software — is growing swiftly.
Neither Linux nor Android is presently suitable for small M2M devices such as cellular modules while the use of open source software in M2M has yet to attain the scale of activities in the larger IT world — no massive development community has yet arisen — but promising pockets and initiatives exist here and there.
Python and Java in M2M
Python and Java are high-level programming languages with open source licenses. One or the other can be used for M2M cellular applications running on GSM cellular modules made by the leading manufacturers Cinterion and Telit. Telenor Object’s open source middleware platform is Java based, while Digi International’s ConnectCore 3G, an embedded module featuring integrated application processing and Qualcomm’s Gobi technology, can be programmed with Python. Serotonin Software’s java-based Mango M2M2, designed for industrial control and SCADA, is another example.
Sierra Wireless and Java
Sierra Wireless announced at last week’s Mobile World Congress the WirelessIDEA library developed by Aplix Corporation, which enables developers to write M2M applications in Java for Sierra Wireless modules as part of its Embedded Application Framework.
Tridium’s Sedona Framework
The Sedona Framework is an “open source development framework that provides a complete software platform for developing, deploying, integrating, and managing pervasive device applications at the lowest level” per Tridium’s website. The Sedona Open Source License can be viewed at http://www.sedonadev.org/doc/license.html.
Viewbiquity Cloud Interface
Application programming for the Viewbiquity Cloud Interface (VCI), “a unique M2M platform that seamlessly connects multiple business processes, including property management, energy, voice, data and video communications, inventory management, IT infrastructure and tracking” is “open source, enabling support for a wide array of devices and peripherals…” per Tom Shaffon, CEO and Managing Partner at Viewbiquity.
Last month’s Snaps included a link to Xact Technology’s January press release announcing the launch of its open-architecture M2M platform, built on open source code — see http://www.xacttrax.com/55.html.
Open Design: Bug Labs
Open design is to physical products, machines and systems as open source is to software and programming, using publicly shared design information.
New York City’s Bug Labs applies open design principles to wireless device development complete with a BUG platform built from BUGbases and BUGmodules. The BUGbase provides CPU, storage, networking services, short range wireless support, and supports up to four BUGmodules. These are FCC, CE, and carrier certified wireless 3G devices.
The BUG platform provides customers with the ability to “prototype and produce new wireless devices rapidly and efficiently.”
The M2M Bazaar
“Open source” and “open design” may be showing up increasingly on M2M companies’ websites, but they are more than selling points or marketing hype. As connected devices head from the millions into the billions, expect open source software to grow in prominence.”