IBM is conducting research that involves making use of the open Java Virtual Machine (JVM) in a cloud-based setting as a way to provide dynamic services, especially to mobile devices.

If the research project works out, it might be considered "the operating system of the future for both embedded systems and the cloud," said Jan Rellermeyer, IBM research staff member at IBM Research in Austin, Texas, who explained the intent behind the research at this week's Design Automation Conference.

JVM is the well-known open software created at Sun that facilitates write-once, run-anywhere applications. The idea behind trying to establish JVM as a software stack in the cloud is to facilitate a "continuous platform experience" between JVM-based applications running in the cloud and mobile devices, Rellermeyer noted.  

Working with the Java Development Kit (JDK) framework, IBM is experimenting with dedicated JVM on application servers and shared JVM for a platform as a service (PaaS). "The question is how can we turn JVM into more of a cloud-type platform," Rellermeyer said.

However, the research project is showing that IBM is facing some obstacles to getting JVM to scale to the level that might be expected in a multi-tenant platform-as-a-service, he acknowledged. But IBM is considering what architectural changes it can make with JVM "to make it more scalable and amenable to the foundation of PaaS as well as more lightweight in general," Rellermeyer said.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail: [email protected]