Jini Technology Applied to Railway Systems -free paper


In the world of pervasive computing where large management systems, as well as small devices, all become interconnected, the problem of the configuration and management of networks is becoming increasingly complex. System administrators have to deal with many problems due to the increasingly distributed architecture of systems. Jini, a new paradigm for the development and management of distributed systems, provides mechanisms that enable systems to plug together to form an impromptu community. This practice report demonstrates how Jini can be applied in an industrial environment, or more exactly how it can be used in the integration of embedded devices on-board trains in the back-office IT infrastructure of railway operators. We present two use cases: the first is about an on-board service that allows for remote access to an onboard diagnosis database; the second is about automatically installing new services on-board trains. The results are encouraging and prove that Jini is the appropriate technology to link application servers and service gateways in embedded servers.

The Internet, having caused a revolutionary impact on office automation, is currently provoking a large effect on industrial automation and information systems. The emergence of the Internet provides a framework that enables for communication with any piece of hardware and/or software, regardless of where it is physically located. Heterogeneous distributed embedded systems, which were commonly isolated in the past, are increasingly connected to networks and integrated within information systems. The management of distributed embedded systems has become a huge task for embedded systems providers, operators and service organizations that want to offer to their customers a high quality of service. The interconnection of distributed embedded systems and information systems brings significant benefits and offers new business opportunities. The problem is that the configuration and management of networks is becoming increasingly complex. System administrators have to deal with many problems due to network unavailability, systems down, high latency and other typical problems of any distributed system. Recently, Sun Microsystems proposed a new paradigm for the development and management of distributed systems. This new technology, called Jini, provides simple mechanisms that enable systems to plug together to form an impromptu community – a community put together without any planning, installation, or human intervention. Each system provides services that other systems in the community may use. Jini simplifies interactions with networks, by eliminating the cost of manual administration of services. In the framework of an R&D project for the railway manufacturer Adtranz, we experimented with Jini technology in order to evaluate it in an industrial application. We identified two potential application domains. The first application domain concerns the embedded devices on a train. They are interconnected with a train communication network. As the composition of a train changes over time, the communication network must configure itself automatically when the train is powered up, and it should reconfigure automatically when locomotives and cars are added to or removed from the train.

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