Article - Sept 2000
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SURVIVOR: The Real Story

Keith Sciulli, Marketing Director
ProSyst USA, Inc.

 It is just good to know that there are options, and there are pioneers who believe that it is better to work together than defeat one another.

It resembles that of an election year when people are choosing sides and positioning their leverage. However, this year's battle is really in the technology field. Who to choose will be the big decisions for developers as to which protocol they will pick to build into their smart devices. Each camp has its pundits and its naysayers. Both SUN and Microsoft are deeply entrenched in the market. Both have too much at risk and are refusing to concede ground. This stalemate has placed developers right in the middle of the quandary. Who is going to emerge from this stubborn battle victorious as the defacto standard?  Who will produce the most widely accepted platform? Who has the resources to bring it out to the mass market first and make it stick?  What is tearing at the heart of this next big tech explosion is the answer that will most likely be the catalyst for the evolution. For now the market looks like a technology tug-of-war with the technology developers as the rope.

Consortiums are being established to outline the codes and specifications that will be used. Many of which the larger companies are sharing seats on both simply to stay informed, or sway the momentum of the market. Their persuasion is obviously self-serving, nonetheless their power indisputable. Groups like OSGi (Open Service Gateway Initiative) which maintaining its neutral tone is now finding it increasingly more challenging to satisfy the rancor amongst the members. Universal Plug and Play groups are establishing a strong foothold of users, and secret society alliances are popping up everywhere.

Stuck in the middle of the mess are the developers, who are feeling the heat from business developers who see smart devices and the new revenue streams they represent as the eminent wave of new commerce and the new economy. For now it has found its place for industrial automation. Next we will see it in luxury automotives, those that can absorb the cost and size of the stealth-like boards in the car's componentry to create an internet on wheels scenario and eventually morphing into complete vehicle self navigational without human intervention. 

The real market in the waiting however, is the Residential Gateway market of the Post PC era, when devices will proactively and automatically be controlled through a central processing unit remotely from just about anywhere. It is here where the market is expected to become the multi-billion dollar cash cow and future of consumer electronic appliances. "They have said that it is expected to be the biggest explosion with the longest fuse." says George Reel, Sales Director for ProSyst. We have been evangelizing and nurturing this market while we feed the high end commercial and industrial uses first. ProSyst is platform independent. Not entirely agnostic ProSyst is a two-year-old company from Germany that was in the EJB business and maneuvered into embedded to capitalize on the expected turn of the wheel. They feel they discovered the answer to the dilemma by being the first to introduce a working JINI into their embedded server and gradually customizing its product to satisfy the market.  Next integrating Universal Plug and Play with plans to eventually bridge the two protocols altogether. They have remained ahead of the curve and have successfully managed to proactively predict and incorporate the changes into its embedded server.

ProSyst's solution is "mBedded server", a small 60kb footprint that can sit on practically any JVM and enable it to sing. They have introduced WAP, HAVI, HTML, WML, and with its latest version they have teamed up to offer Directory Services. This responds to the demand for encrypted security of proprietary information over the net and perhaps more importantly, network management of these billion devices as they permeate the market. So what has ProSyst at stake in the battle for protocol dominance? Simply everything. Like the different parts of the body ProSyst's mbedded server acts as the brain that drives, orchestrates, and governs them allowing them to function in perfect synchronicity. The new Gateway Technology, with all the new revenue streams and services it represents, is too good and too promising to adopt a WAIT and SEE attitude.. We believe the first one to hit the market and do it right will score, but it's a big world with lots of devices and a lot more to come. There is room in the market for everyone." says George Reel ProSyst's Director of Sales. I guess the message I would like to send out is simply to go ahead start building your gateways. You don't have to hedge your bets it will be covered.

Further movement to counterpunch the polarized protocol dilemma is mounting and finding a place with the developers who need something NOW that can be easily implemented with little or no cost. To answer the call is the protocol, SALUTATION. It is an open protocol with no royalties, and it provides service discovery and service management. It has strong support from the IBM and Bluetooth camps and is making a serious bid to fill the promises of other protocols that have not yet delivered the goods. It is posturing itself to be the Linux of protocols, especially fitted for low-cost device applications. The embedded world is playing with SALUTATION and it is quickly becoming the sharpest tool in the shed.

Silently in backrooms and golf courses deals are being penned to bring these capabilities to bear. Service channels are being developed and smart homes are cropping up everywhere. And while no one owns a crystal ball, the writing is on the wall. Historically, it is in moments of time like this when a smaller more agile player seizes the opportunity to capitalize on market uncertainty and devise a universal solution that slays the sleeping giants.

If ProSyst feels it has found the answer in being Platform independent, others are still too politically motivated by the Big Names to act. So what is causing the indecisiveness? Perhaps we are still waiting for our other projects to be completed. Perhaps we don't feel the real world needs or is ready to pay for a computer in its refrigerator, or simply it is for fear of alienating the campus bully. Either way, it is safe to say that progress never sleeps, and never retreats. The clash of the titans will rage on, and there is no way to address the unforeseen. It is just good to know that there are options, and there are pioneers who believe that it is better to work together than defeat one another.

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