Eclipse Equinox project branches into middleware

Equinox runtime project aims to make applications easier to deploy with an OSGi-compliant componentized middleware platform.

The Eclipse Foundation on Monday announced the creation of a project called Equinox, a significant expansion for the open-source group beyond development tools and into runtime software.

The project will focus on making tools for deploying applications once they are completed. For example, the software would allow an IT professional to install only portions of a Java application as needed, rather than all of the code, to save on server resources.

The Equinox runtime software will be an implementation of a standard, called OSGi, formerly known as the Open Services Gateway initiative.

The technology gives software companies a standardized way to break applications down into smaller components that can work together once an application is deployed, according to the OSGi Alliance.

The Equinox project has the backing of a number of existing Eclipse projects which already deal with platforms for deploying applications, including the Eclipse Communications Framework and Rich Ajax Platform.

The software will be suitable for deploying applications across different operating systems and hardware, including servers and mobile, according to Eclipse.

The move is a significant departure for Eclipse, which is best known as a popular open-source integrated development environment (IDE) for designing and writing programs, particularly for Java.

Tony Baer of Eclipse said that OSGi and Equinox could make traditionally monolithic middleware more flexible and easier to work with.

"With Equinox planting Eclipse's feet into run time, the potential of OSGi could become pretty huge," he said in a blog posting. "Taken literally, it could provide a new model for application integration, or in the words of RedMonk's James Governor, a 'stackless stack.' Governor provides a detailed listing of early offerings that are supporting the OSGi model of dynamic composition of applications.

"If you take the idea of stackless stacks to its logical conclusion, that means the end of monolithic middleware stacks as we know them."