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Not everything can be a DIY hit, even when it comes to OSGi

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. That was a key takeaway from Zuhlke Engineering‘s Tim Ward’s EclipseCon 2013 session March 28 in Boston on Enterprise OSGi.

Do It Yourself (DIY) television shows have proven popular with audiences, but the same “I can save myself money by doing it on my own,” mentality that makes for good entertainment, may not be so amusing when it comes to OSGi server runtimes.

During his lecture, Ward talked about how those who enjoy DIY projects will like OSGi because it’s all about modularity. “It’s very easy to build a server runtime from a freely available piece,” he said. “OSGi makes it simple to reuse components, but do you want to do this?”

If an application architect decides to go the DIY route, there are several options to choose from. Among the platforms are: Eclipse, Apache, Aries, JBoss, GlassFish and IBM Websphere, explained Ward.

There isn’t a cut-and-dry answer to what features should be used. Just like the many aforementioned platforms, each scenario needs to be looked at independently.

Ward advised session attendees to ask themselves, “What do you want from your runtime?,” he asked. “You need to answer this question first. Is it a development stack for playing around with?”

Ward also advised people to consider the following:

– Do you want to learn? You’ll gain the most knowledge if you build it yourself;

– What kind of time do you have? You’ll make the fastest progress using a pre-built offering;

– Is it a small/medium reduction system with a small feature set?

Even though each situation has its own circumstances, there are some general rules to follow. Ward suggested that for those creating an application that needs a lot of features, building their own runtime isn’t a wise decision. He asserted that in such a scenario, developers should save themselves time and pick a pre-built runtime that offers the necessary services.

Another situation where building a runtime can also be a poor use of resources is when an application needs to run on three or more nodes. Again, Ward said this is a scenario where it’s better to fork over some cash. The combination of deployment, management, and monitoring will be big issues.

Ward’s closing piece of advice was this, “Mostly, pick an option that’s designed for your requirements. The number of people who don’t do this is crazy!”

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