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OMG DDS makes SOA approach available for real-time embedded systems

Integrating disparate computing systems is by no means an easy task. Integration is one of the most important reasons to focus on Web services in enterprise architecture. Standards like SOAP and REST make it less difficult to get various applications and components talking to each other. However, these protocols are not without latency costs.

Sometimes, the latency times involved even with RESTful Web services are simply not acceptable. Real-Time Innovations (RTI), based in Sunnyvale California, is one company focused on providing messaging and integration for demanding real-time systems.

David Barnett, VP of Products and Markets at RTI, said the type of real-time systems the company works with include transportation systems (plains, trains and automobiles), manufacturing equipment, medical equipment and more. Most of them are systems where inaccuracy due to latency delays can be downright dangerous. Although they don’t work exclusively with embedded systems, RTI generally works with real-time embedded systems that have additional requirements on top of what traditional IT systems have.

Many real-time embedded systems are, as Barnett put it, “internally very highly distributed.” RTI focuses on systems of systems, where a high-end luxury car might be considered a small example with only 150 or so separate embedded systems joined together to form one unified system. A larger example would be a Navy cruiser, which can have over 1,000 subsystems. Near the top are industrial power generation systems, like wind farms, that can have over 100,000 embedded systems that must be orchestrated to work together.

In an enterprise IT setting, most architects would integrate services, systems and applications with standard service-oriented architecture standards like SOAP and REST. RTI has found that the data distributed service (DDS), is a more appropriate standard for real-time systems.

DDS was co-created by RTI and Thales Group in the early 2000s and has been approved by the Object Management Group (OMG). Barnett says, “A lot of our customers refer to it as a real-time implementation of service-oriented architecture. OMG calls DDS “the first open international middleware standard directly addressing publish-subscribe communications for real-time and embedded systems.”

RTI recently announced a new open source licensing model designed to increase participation among producers of individual embedded subsystems. The Infrastructure Community licensing model provides two options. One is a free-of-charge foundational offering with optional support in addition to library source code and prebuilt binaries. The other option is a full commercial license that includes a full warranty and royalty-free deployment for a per-developer license fee.

With a data standard in place for embedded systems manufacturers, the integration of embedded systems to work together in real time should be significantly easier as the availability of interoperable components should increase.

The announcement of RTI’s new open source licensing model coincided with the announcement of the latest release of the RTI Connext product family, which is built around the company’s implementation of the DDS standard. RTI Connext also includes tools for integration, messaging, reduced resource footprint options and tools for testing and debugging. – James Denman