Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Access/Palmsource Announce New Linux Platform

At the 3GSM World Congress this week, Access and Access-owned PalmSource announced the availablility of the ACCESS Linux Platform (ALP).

The Rumors Were True: Oracle Moves To Acquire Sleepycat

Yesterday, Oracle definitively announced that it would acquire embedded database vendor SleepyCat Software.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Green Hills and Esterel

Green Hills Software and Esterel Technologies are announcing a partnership that will lead to a highly integrated package of products for DO-178B Level A and IEC 61508 SIL 3 applications.

The partnership appears to be modeled on an earlier Green Hills agreement with I-Logix. Indeed I-Logix and Esterel also share are partnership and integrations.

While it is difficult to tell at this point if the partnership is as deep as the I-Logix arrangement. If it is, this could be major step forward for Green Hills in the battle for the military/aerospace market. Green Hills appears to have seen the value in modeling and also in the Esterel certified code generator (KCG). The SCADE KCG produces code that is correct by construction. KCG produced code can avoid the MCDC testing required in DO-178B certification.

This agreement is indicative of Green Hills’ current partnering strategy. Find companies on similar fast growth trajectories that have similar cultures and goals, are market technical leaders and are willing to forge deep connections between products and perhaps organizations.

Other news from Embedded World:

Quadros Systems has ported their convergent RTOS technology to the Freescale ColdFire MCF532x and MCF537x processors. Because Quadros RTXC dual-mode RTOS offers optimized dataflow and control capabilities, it is able to maximize the DSP, RISC and I/O capabilities of these new platforms.

Aonix is announcing SWT graphics extensions for its PERC virtual machine. SWT, a Java-based graphics library and widget toolkit developed as part of the Eclipse platform, is designed to be as close to the native platform as possible, making it ideal for embedded applications. This integration makes Aonix PERC VM increasingly suitable for applications such as avionics, communications, industrial automation, office automation, power plants, transportation, mil/aero, and fleet telematics.

Express Logic, Inc. today announced that Express Logic’s ThreadX RTOS now supports the ARM CortexTM-M3 microprocessor. Also, Express Logic and Interpeak announced that the companies have integrated Express Logic’s ThreadX RTOS and Interpeak’s TCP/IP stacks.

QNX Software Systems announced a new operating system extension that allows developers to build hardened, secure compartments around their software applications while providing the flexibility to maximize CPU resources.

QNX Wins Award at Embedded World

QNX Software Systems today announced it was named a winner of the prestigious Embedded Award 2006 at the Embedded World conference. A panel of judges selected the QNX® Neutrino® Multi-Core Technology Development Kit (TDK) as the best product in the software category for its outstanding technical innovation in embedded technology. This is the second time QNX Software Systems has won the Embedded Award. In 2004, the company was recognized for the groundbreaking architecture of its power management framework.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Oracle to buy Sleepycat?

In this weekend's Wall Street Journal there are rumors of Oracle buying a number of companies including JBoss, Zend and Sleepycat. Sleepycat is the commercial supplier of BerkeleyDB - an open source embedded database.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Esmertec Moves Beyond the Client

Esmertec (SWX: ESMN) has acquired a company that will help it address the entire mobile phone value chain with enhanced capabilities targeting carriers. The acquisition of Cellicium will provide the basis for the company's Mobile Operator Division.

We just got off the phone with a major equity analyst who wanted to talk about the Linux and Java businesses. Then we saw this release. From our perspective, the mobile Java business comes down to just a couple of companies with Esmertec being one of them. But client side Java can be tough business, companies in this market need to add value around the JVM either on the client or up and down the carrier value chain. It is not enough to just deliver a JVM. With this move Esmertec is working on the later.

Highlights from the release:

Cellicium, founded in February 2001, operates in Bagneux outside of Paris and is a premier provider of mobile browsing solutions, applications and related services to mobile operators. In the new division, Cellicium will continue delivering these carrier-grade solutions and services to GSM operators.

Jean-Claude Martinez, President and COO of Esmertec, has been appointed to take on the additional responsibility as President of this division, effective immediately.

Esmertec has taken a 100% equity stake in Cellicium. The initial purchase price is approximately EUR12.5 Million in cash, with an additional estimated EUR9.5 Million conditional payout in 2006 and 2007. The payout is based on earn-outs, of which 70% will be in cash and 30% in Esmertec shares. Cellicium is a profitable and cash flow positive company.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Microsoft Ups Its Indemnification Package

The full release is here.


The strengthened IP protection will be available worldwide to Microsoft’s mobile and embedded partners and will include the following:

•The defense of OEMs and distributors against IP claims in every country in which Microsoft distributes or markets its Windows Mobile and Windows Embedded products

•Protection of patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret claims based on Windows Mobile and Windows Embedded software

•Removal of the monetary cap related to defense costs

VDC's View:

IP protection is certainly an issue assessed by OEMs employing embedded Linux. Over 60% of the OEMs using embedded Linux surveyed by VDC perform an IP risk evaluation. However, any concerns about IP risk do not appear to be substantially slowing embedded Linux adoption. Whether it is the existing IP indemnification programs offered by Linux vendors and others or a general lack of concern over the risks, OEM adoption is so widespread that Linux consistently ranks as the leading embedded OS in VDC surveys.

This announcement signals an extension of Microsoft’s indemnification program and further mitigates the risk to OEMs of Microsoft introducing patented technology into its Windows Embedded Platforms. The lawsuit filled by Visto in December 2005 against Microsoft shows that disputes over patented technology can come from a number of directions in the mobile and embedded software market. Although Visto is not currently going after Microsoft OEM licensees, the fear is that at some point it might - much like what SCO is threatening for users of Linux.

The real danger here, in my opinion, is an injunction or other ruling preventing an OEM from deploying that software on its devices or creating uncertainty about future availability. NPT’s lawsuit against RIM has resulted in a number of industry watchers counseling about the risks of deploying RIM devices. Microsoft has addressed the injunction issue in its indemnification package, however its remedies will take time to engineer or negotiate. Of course, with shrinking product cycles being the norm in the embedded systems industry, time is the real enemy.

This announcement seeks to shift the balance in software platform selection in Microsoft’s favor by planting small seeds of doubt in the minds of developers and risk evaluators at OEMs. It is just one more way in which Microsoft has differentiated itself vs. open source/Linux. Is this a huge announcement? No. But it should be seen within the context of Microsoft’s other strategic efforts to set itself apart from the open source model.

Clearly Microsoft continues to see open source - and in particular Linux - as its most important embedded competitor. And it should.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

VDC in BusinessWeek Article

FEBRUARY 6, 2006

Open Source's New Frontiers
By Sarah Lacy

MontaVista's Uncertain View

This startup, which embeds Linux in consumer electronics, is poised for big growth and maybe an IPO -- if Wind River doesn't spoil the party

Jim Ready, CEO of closely held software maker MontaVista Software, started off 2006 relaxed from a Hawaiian vacation and espousing an upbeat outlook. His company, which specializes in code that's "embedded" in consumer electronics and other gear, was entering its seventh year. And Ready was confident that in 2006 MontaVista would turn profitable and possibly move closer to an oft-rumored IPO. "When we started this company, we knew this would change the embedded computing world, and that has happened at a pretty good clip," Ready says.

Bold words for a man who's currently undergoing a search for his replacement, has recently accepted the resignation of his marketing chief, and is in the midst of a restructuring that calls for an undisclosed reduction in staff. None of that is uncommon in the rough-and-tumble world of emerging tech companies. But Sunnyvale, (Calif.)-based MontaVista has a reputation for results that don't quite live up to outsize goals. And as rival Wind River Systems (WIND ) begins treading on MontaVista's turf, pressure on Ready and his team to make good on promises has never been greater.

ANOTHER RED HAT? At stake: how big a slice of the $1.5 billion embedded-software market will end up with MontaVista, which has hitched its fortunes to Linux, the low-cost operating system that's updated by developers around the world via the Internet. Ready's model is Red Hat (RHAT ). Just as Red Hat sells and supports Linux for companies, MontaVista develops and supports a version of Linux that's sold to engineers working on a vast array of manufactured products, from phones and to telecom equipment to cars and other consumer devices.

It's not hard to see why MontaVista -- or any other budding open-source company -- would emulate Red Hat. Sales at Raleigh (N.C.)-based Red Hat jumped 44%, to $73.1 million, in its fiscal third quarter, which ended in December. Net income more than doubled, to $23.2 million, in the same period. But Red Hat is the exception -- not the rule -- among open-source players.
MontaVista wants to change that. The market for embedded software is poised to boom.

Currently, many would-be customers write their own code in-house. But that can be costly. And a growing number of manufacturers would rather rely on a standardized operating system, freeing engineers to focus on the concepts that can really distinguish a product, such as design and layout. MontaVista and Alameda (Calif.)-based Wind River both reckon the embedded market could become as big as $5 billion a year over time.

BIG OPPORTUNITY. And Linux has obvious benefits. For one, it's often cheaper than proprietary alternatives. Also, manufacturers don't want to be locked into an operating system over which they have little control. Nor do they want to be beholden to any one vendor, as many computers makers are with Microsoft (MSFT ) and its Windows operating system.

Little wonder that Linux is finding its way into more devices. Motorola (MOT ), Samsung, and Panasonic have all introduced Linux smart phones (see BW Online, 11/8/05, "Linux Answers Phone Makers' Call"). The Open Source Development Labs has embarked on several projects to standardize Linux for wireless handsets and telecom gear.

It has the makings of a big opportunity. When Ready was getting started in 1999, using Linux for devices was a radical idea. John Shoch of Alloy Ventures remembers getting the call in 1999 when Ready first proposed an embedded Linux company. It hadn't even occurred to Shoch, though he had made several investments in embedded software.

"I wish I'd thought of putting those two words together," Shoch says of "embedded" and "Linux." "On the spot we shook hands [on an investment deal]. We didn't know how to sell or execute or meet the needs but knew this was a whole new opportunity and we were going to figure it out."

"TRUE COMPETITOR." And figure it out they did. MontaVista, with soaring growth rates, outmaneuvered several small competitors in the early part of the decade. But that growth has tailed off in recent years, analysts say. The private company doesn't disclose revenue figures. But analysts say sales are in the range of about $30 million to $40 million a year. Ready says growth was about 20% last year.

That wouldn't be bad -- if MontaVista were a $1 billion software company. But for an up-and-comer, it's a red flag, says analyst Chris Lanfear of research firm VDC, who questions whether the growth rate is even that high. "It's certainly not a good indicator of market acceptance of what they're offering," says Lanfear. "I wouldn't discount the entrance of Wind River. MontaVista has never really had a legitimate, true competitor."

MontaVista's story is part cautionary tale for other emerging open-source companies that face an equally long, tough slog to profitability and high growth. The only pure-Linux success story is Red Hat, which took more than a decade to prove itself. Sweden's MySQL, which specializes in open-source databases, has upended that market, with nearly half of all Web sites running on its products. But MySQL's sales are just $40 million -- negligible compared to the $15 billion database market dominated by the likes of Oracle (ORCL ) and Microsoft.

"ARE YOU READY?" MontaVista, too, has had a tough time persuading clients to give Linux a chance. "Folks don't jump willy-nilly into this," Ready says. "How long does it take an elephant to have a baby? It's a long time, but you get this giant thing in the end."

Ready and his investors insist MontaVista is moving according to plan, despite burning through much, if not all, of the $75 million raised from investors and still not posting a profit. They say they have 2,000 customers and note that all of the Linux smart phones on the market use MontaVista Linux. Indeed, that market should grow nicely in the next few years as some handset makers, like Motorola (MOT ), look to shift more of their phones to a standard operating system like Linux.

Ready & Co. also insist that the restructuring and changes in upper management are aimed at getting MontaVista to profitability faster and bringing in new blood that has experience taking a company public. "Bankers are calling me regularly and saying, 'Hey John, we know MontaVista is the next pure-play Linux offer. Are you ready?'" Shoch says.

MAJOR IMPACT. Wall Street very well may be hungry for another public company that can benefit from rising demand for Linux. Red Hat's stock more than doubled in 2005 as it became apparent the company had finally hit on a winning business model. But Red Hat has had to earn that kind of appreciation. It's now growing at a much faster clip and it's scoring bigger deals. Most important, Red Hat doesn't have the competitive landscape MontaVista does.

After years of pooh-poohing Linux, Wind River did an about-face two years ago and now sells Linux tools and support alongside its own home-grown software. The impact in the embedded-device world is akin to Microsoft offering a Linux version of Windows. Wind River generated $235 million in sales in fiscal 2005, which ended in April, and it's already in all of the major accounts that MontaVista has spent six years scrapping for.

Though it's a latecomer to the Linux party, Wind River says it's making up for lost time. "The first mover has to find the way and sometimes learns through a series of mistakes," says Wind River Chief Marketing Officer John Bruggeman. "Sometimes they are not recoverable. [That] was very clear to us when we stepped back and asked the customer, 'Why are you pressing us to enter the Linux market so aggressively?'"

NAME-BRAND CHIEF. And while MontaVista has more Linux clients now, the device business is uncertain. Companies like Motorola could easily switch to Wind River for future phones if they were offered more favorable pricing or just felt more comfortable with a large public company.

Right now, many big handset makers are hedging their bets, using some Linux from each, analysts and customers say. A new CEO at MontaVista could make all of the difference. By his own admission Ready is a founder and an entrepreneur at heart. Running a larger company day-to-day isn't his forte or passion. If MontaVista could get a name-brand chief with public-company experience, it could instill confidence in customers, and get MontaVista over its current hump, into the black, and on the way to $100 million in annual revenues, before Wind River gains too much more ground. MontaVista also has yet to replace Kelly Herrel, the vice-president for marketing who departed in early January.

MontaVista is named for its first location, Monta Vista, an unincorporated area of Silicon Valley that was misspelled a century ago by land developers who meant to evoke the Spanish words for "mountain view." The outlook for MontaVista may be rosy for now, but it could swiftly darken if the Wind River onslaught gathers steam. That could relegate MontaVista to the ranks of Silicon Valley companies that pioneered a market only to watch a rival reap the rewards.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

ENEA Full Year Highlights

From the Release:

VDC Note: Currency conversion (2005 average: 13.4 SEK to 1 USD)

Full Year

Net sales increased by 9 percent to SEK 712 (656) million. Adjusted for divested units, net sales increased by 20 percent.

Software sales increased by 17 percent to SEK 238 (203) million, accounting for 33 (31) percent of the Group's net sales.

Operating profit improved to SEK 56 (21) million, with operating margin rising to 8 (3) percent.

Profit after tax improved to SEK 69 (14) million. The deferred tax asset for the Group's Swedish units was capitalized, which had a positive effect of SEK 24 million on tax costs.

Earnings per share amounted to SEK 0.19 (0.04).

Fourth Quarter

Net sales amounted to SEK 194 (186) million.

Software sales increased by 1 percent to SEK 67 (66) million, accounting for 34 (36) percent of the net sales.

Operating profit amounted to SEK 17 (24) million, equivalent to an operating margin of 9 (13) percent.

Monday, February 06, 2006

PERC Pico Announced, Could 2006 be the Year of Real-Time Java?

Aonix appears to be working hard to fulfill VDC's real-time Java predictions (see our 5 Things to Watch in 2006 post) with the release of PERC Pico, its latest product.

Our notes on the release:

  • PERC Pico is has smaller foot print and is faster than Aonix PERC, a full Java SE class VM
  • PERC Pico does sacrifice some library support to achieve if size and performance capabilities
  • Retains key Java advantages of code portability, modularity and reuse - as well as the large # of developers who know Java.
  • Minimal footprint is about 128K
  • C/C++ like performance can be achieved
  • Latency is about 2-3 microseconds
  • Utilizes t he RTSJ profile, but is not a full RTSJ implementation.
  • Can be used with No RTOS (bare metal), with PERC for full Java SE support, or with an RTOS
VDC's View: PERC Pico is a sign that the future of real-time, mission/safety-critical Java might just be bright. Previous attempts at real-time Java were unable to manage the footprint and performance issues that restrict its use in many hard real-time applications. To overcome these issues, the team at Aonix has come at these problems from the point of view of the developers who will use the technology and identified the most important features. PERC Pico does sacrifice some aspects of Java, but retains enough of the advantages to be appealing to developers. VDC expects that PERC Pico will be the basis for future standards from the JCP and this will certainly help adoption.


Aonix®, the provider of the PERC® real-time virtual machine for embedded targets, has made available a pre-commercial “proof of concept” release of its new PERC Pico™ technology. PERC Pico is the first development environment for Java developers geared toward the creation of resource-constrained and deeply embedded hard real-time applications. PERC Pico is already being evaluated for use in a broad range of projects including: avionics, satellites, deep space probes, radio communications, weapons systems, and flight surface controls.

PERC Pico offers the advantages of Java™ development with footprint and execution performance comparable to C/C++ programs. PERC Pico makes it possible to create very small, fast programs with tight timing requirements using Java source code. The Eclipse-based PERC Pico environment combines off-the-shelf tools with standards-based annotations, a verifier, and automated build tools to create efficient executables and dynamically loadable class files. The built-in memory management removes the complexities and execution inefficiencies typically associated with conventional garbage-collection techniques that are not as suitable for resource-constrained applications.

“For years, the promise of a hard real-time solution for Java developers targeting deeply embedded or resource constrained applications has been mostly unfulfilled,” said Dave Wood, PERC Product Manager. “PERC has been the leading VM solution for complex, soft real-time applications for nearly a decade, and now PERC Pico will fill the void for the hard real-time needs typical in mission- and safety-critical applications.”

PERC Pico can be used in either a stand-alone configuration on bare target boards where footprint and execution speed are at a premium or in combination with the full PERC virtual machine in an RTOS environment. An RTOS-based configuration is ideal for complex embedded applications where developers need to combine high levels of functionality with access to low-level devices. The PERC virtual machine offers rich J2SE™-based capabilities and predictable garbage collection, while PERC Pico provides the low-level access and small latencies that are often required.

“Availability of the PERC Pico technologies is critical to fulfilling the Java Community Process requirement to establish a safety-critical Java standard”, noted Kelvin Nilsen, Aonix CTO. PERC Pico is designed as a profile of the RTSJ™ specification. Aonix, already active with the Open Group and the Java™ Community Process in working toward safety critical profile standardization, has volunteered to make this technology available as the basis for the official reference implementation.

PERC Pico is available now in limited pre-release form for qualified customers interested in evaluation of the technology. The commercial release of PERC Pico is scheduled for delivery in the second half of 2006.

Friday, February 03, 2006

LynuxWorks 2006 Vision Summit

VDC attended the LynuxWorks “Vision Summit” in San Jose, CA this week along with a number of other analysts and press representatives in attendance. The session included a series of presentations that focused on the company’s positioning of their RTOS and tools products with a focus on satisfying open system, safety, and security requirements. In addition, the session served as an event to introduce new additions to the LynuxWorks Team, including Robert Day, Joe Wlad, and Steve Blackman.

VDC’s conclusions from the summit meeting:

LynuxWorks is one of the traditional RTOS companies in the embedded software market. They have long held a position within this market of supporting a dual approach for their operating system solutions – LynxOS and BlueCat Linux – offering a platform choice to OEMs.

From VDC’s perspective, this private company’s revenue has been stable over the last several years that have most likely contributed to the lack of investment in rebuilding the organization and marketing programs. The summit comes on the heels of a LynuxWorks press release in December 2005 that discussed the strength of their most recent quarterly results, optimism going forward, and additional financing from current investors. To be clear, the additional employees are seasoned veterans within the embedded software market. These additions demonstrate the company’s commitment to a more aggressive marketing and product campaign that focuses on their key strengths and differentiators for their products – adherence to open standards, consistent Eclipse-based software development tools, safety-critical/high reliability, and security/information assurance (for medium EAL 4+ and high EAL 6+), and software reuse/portability.

2005 has apparently been a very good year for the company. The selection by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems group in April for the U.S Army’s Future Combat System (FCS) was a key win. There were most likely significant resources dedicated to making this win possible and countless more to ensure its continued success. While such a resource commitment might suggest a strategic shift in focus for the company in the short-term in key target industries, we expect that the company is betting on the increasing awareness across all industries to develop products more efficiently, with higher reliability, and software portability, while providing some level of information assurance.

Bottom line:

The company’s success in 2005 and optimism for the future has allowed them to invest in their marketing programs, organizational structure, and product R&D. All these together should position LynuxWorks to capitalize on their momentum going into 2006. What remains then is the hard part: executing against the strategy and realizing the returns on those investments.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

FSMLabs and the WIN-T Program

While JTRS gets all the press and the problems, the WIN-T program keeps moving forward. FSMLabs has a couple of wins with Harris and BBN for its RTLinux product on the WIN-T program.

Battle of the IDEs

(Jan Liband from Encirq told me that I had not included the scale...Whoops, it was included in the original version...but not here. Sometimes you are too close to the data. Scale is 1-5, with 5 being the top score. Also, proprietary IDE is not ment to be a loaded term.)

Here is some data we collected last year, some of which was used in an Electronic Design article in January. As part of our surveying efforts, we ask developers to rate various IDE tool sets. In the survey these IDEs are listed by product name and vendor. In this case, we rolled up the specific IDEs into three categories.

1. Pure Eclipse SDK
2. Proprietary IDE (example: Tornado, etc.)
3. Eclipse-based IDE (example: Workbench, etc.)

The vendor experience rating may not translate well to downloading an SDK off the web but, of course, developers had no trouble in coming up with an opinion. We will take the data as it was reported, with some reservations about what it might mean.
What does the overall data mean? It appears that the developers we surveyed believe you can add value on top of an open source IDE and, that in some cases, those IDEs are superior to the traditional proprietary approach to IDE development.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

News Round Up with Comments

Here are some of the more important news items of the last couple of days:

Green Hills Software, Inc., the leader in real-time operating systems (RTOS) and device software optimization (DSO), today announced the immediate availability of its entire DSO product line for Xilinx Virtex™-4 Platform FPGAs, including the INTEGRITY real-time operating system (RTOS), PowerPC compilers, TimeMachine debugger, MULTI integrated development environment (IDE), Green Hills probe, and SuperTrace probe. While each product is a leader in its space, together they form an optimized and highly integrated DSO solution that enables Virtex-4 system developers to create the highest performing and most reliable product in the least amount of time and at the lowest cost for solutions in the networking, medical, automotive, avionics, defense and industrial control markets.

VDC's View: Note the use of DSO in the beginning of this announcement. For those of you who thought this DSO thing was dead, guess again. None of the DSOers has given up yet. Wind, Enea and Green Hills look like they will stick with DSO for the foreseeable future. The subtitle of this release is: Immediate Availability of Leading Hardware and Software Solution for Software Defined Radio (SDR). The current JTRS programs are in some trouble with respect to being able to meet their technology and delivery promises. The future is, of course, SDR based but the current attempts at implementation may not be the ones that take us into that future.

Micriµm announces the release of µC/USB-MSD (V1.00)

The µC/USB-MSD stack enables you to use your embedded target device as a USB mass storage device. You can simply connect your product to a Windows-based PC.

VDC's View: MicroC OS? Why is that important? Because MicroC is everywhere even if you don't know it. Always good to keep an eye on what Micrium is up to.

IBM Launches New Software to Help Organizations Automate Governance
IBM...launched new software designed to help systems engineers manage their development environment and more easily comply with industry-specific regulations.

Built on Eclipse, IBM Rational Systems Developer helps organizations trace industry-specific regulatory requirements from design to implementation. With its support for the Rational software portfolio, Rational Systems Developer enables engineers to manage their software development process more comprehensively and integrate compliance mandates into the process automatically.

For example, in the defense space, Rational Systems Developer helps systems engineers comply with mandatory defense systems requirements -- the Department of Defense Architecture Framework (DoDAF) -- by providing standardized views and reports on the system architecture. Rational Systems Developer is also able to create a visual model of a system's software design and can automatically generate code from the design, thereby saving time and increasing accuracy in future projects. Other compliance and standards initiatives primed to take advantage of Rational Systems Developer include AUTOSAR, DoD5000 and Navy Open Architecture certification and accreditation processes.

VDC's View: IBM's competitors have already staked a claim to the DoDAF market and indeed other industry specific frameworks as well. Telelogic acquired Popkin in 2005 and I-Logix released the award-winning Rhapsody 6.1 in 2005 as well. Cleary IBM needed to address these challenges. Although IBM is by far the leading vendor of modeling tools in the embedded market, questions still remain about the company's commitment and long term plans.