The DoD, Open Source, and OSGi as a Server Infrastructure.

Kit Plummer (Gestalt, now part of Accenture)

OSGi DevCon · Long Talk

Thursday, 13:30, 50 minutes | Grand Ballroom F | Download in iCal Format

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Kit Plummer

The Department of Defense is slowly but surely fighting to come to terms with the idea of consuming Open Source Software (OSS) as a variant of COTS. While interesting and useful, this is a battle without drama; it can't help but be won eventually. What is more interesting, and of potentially greater value, is the coming shift where the DoD recognizes the need to more aggressively produce open source software and participate actively in open source communities. As the DoD moves away from isolated software platforms to an ecosystem of interoperable capabilities, there are tremendous benefits to be gained by creating a reusable and open "stack" that simplifies the inherent complexity in such an undertaking.

We recently set out to prove the viability of these ideas in a small way. We are in the process of evolving a project, with the encouragement of our government customer that is Open Source from the beginning, to develop a "dynamic contextual collaboration engine" called "rVooz." This project enables chat/IM and VoIP communication sessions between client-side users who have never met but share some mission/interest context such as an interest, location or mission. This project is unique because it is an attempt to attract a hybrid community of both DoD and commercial participants to the benefit of both.

The project is open and visible at www.rvooz.org.

We are building out infrastructure with OSGi as the core server-side framework, for the modularity and lifecycle capabilities it brings. The rVooz system is comprised of three key components: a client-side context registration point (website, GIS tool, browser, custom app, etc.), the server (called Salient), and tools for making the connection for a given protocol/medium (called Voozers). The Salient server has a few key modules (OSGi bundles). On the front-end we have a simple bundle, which processes the incoming context/registrations via a RESTful interface. The contexts are managed by another bundle called a Context Processor that feeds the matching engines. The matching engines are OSGi bundles designed to match on specific criteria (e.g. string, geo-spatial, xml, etc.). rVooz capabilities are extensible based on installed bundles.

By utilizing Open technologies we were able to transition from ideas, to working systems in a very short amount of time, with very few dedicated resources.

The purpose of the talk is to provide the background behind attempting a Government-owned Open Source project, and to tell our engineering success story based on the benefits gained from starting with Open Source frameworks (and specifications like OSGi) and tooling. We would hope that other organizations and individuals alike could take away our lessons-learned and begin to see Open Source as less of something to consume and more of an environment to take ownership of.

Kit Plummer is a Technical Architect by title, a software engineer by trade and Open Source evangelist by accident. Kit is currently employed at Gestalt, LLC. where he is engineering cross commercial-DoD systems, in an Open Source environment. Kit has also worked with other DoD-centric contractors to build and deliver integration platforms and mission-autonomy capabilities. Kit is also a graduate student at the University of Maryland studying Software Engineering.

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