Azul Systems has added a new, ultra-compact entry to its portfolio of alternative Java environments, taking a run at Oracle for the lucrative mobile, embedded, and Internet of Things (IoT) markets.
Zulu Embedded is a stripped-down sibling of Zulu, Azul's certified, cross-platform build of OpenJDK – Oracle's open source reference implementation of the Java Developer Kit.
While Zulu and Zulu Enterprise target the data center, Zulu Embedded is intended for developers working on code for such devices as routers, switches, automotive electronics, point-of-sale systems, and many other thing-like applications.
Because the new offering is built from the same OpenJDK code that Oracle uses for its own embedded Java offerings, Azul says it offers "identical performance" to Oracle's HotSpot JVM. Azul has also certified each build of Zulu Embedded using the Java Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK).
The main difference, Azul marketing boss Howard Green tells The Reg, is price. The mobile and embedded markets are a major focus for Oracle insofar as squeezing revenue out of Java, as they were for Sun Microsystems previously.
Green says Oracle has been able to use a combination of strict Java distribution policies and its aggressive end-of-life schedule for Java SE to drive new licensing and support contracts, which has been slowly driving up the cost of Java development for small device markets.
Azul is hoping Zulu Embedded will appeal to these developers because of its more relaxed approach. The Zulu Embedded software itself is completely open source, for one thing, which largely eliminates the licensing fees associated with Oracle's proprietary Java offerings for embedded.
Azul's pricing model is based on support alone and is flexible; customers can choose from per-device or flat-fee fee structures, or they can even pitch Azul on their own unique pricing schedules. Whichever way they do it, the goal is that Zulu Embedded maintains compatibility with their existing Java code while cutting costs.
Because there is no "one size fits all" for embedded development, Azul plans to make Zulu Embedded builds available for a wide variety of hardware, operating systems, and environments. The idea is that Azul produces a unique Zulu Embedded build to meet each customer's specifications, tests and certifies it, then provides support.
Initially, only Intel/AMD x86 and x64 architectures are supported, but Azul says support for ARM, Sparc, and other processors will be available according to customer demand. Currently, builds are supported on a variety of Linux and Windows variants, with more operating system support to come, including specialized embedded OSes. Azul says it's even willing to support customers' custom operating systems.
Customers can also choose between JDK 6, 7, and 8, and Azul offers long lifespan support of up to 10 years after each major Java SE release. As for exact pricing, however, that's between you and Azul to work out. ®