As part of the Java Card Forum’s 25 year Anniversary celebrations, we have been talking to leading standards organisations to highlight the importance of industry collaboration over the years.
In this interview, Claus Dietze, Chair of the Board, Trusted Connectivity Alliance (TCA) explains the importance of Java Card technology in the Telecoms industry, how the 2 organisations have successfully collaborated over the years and why Java Card should be the platform of choice for IoT solutions.
What is the role of Java Card in Telecoms and how has it evolved over the last 25 years?
Java Card is a key pillar of the Telecoms industry; it’s a key technology for our Secure Element ecosystem. And why is it like this? Because it’s providing the capabilities our ecosystem actually needs.
First of all, it’s providing flexibility, but of course it also provides one of the main features and capabilities, which is interoperability. And due to this, many of the demands that the ecosystem has, can be answered.
The other aspect of evolution, is of course in regards to its market share – you may know that the TCA, formerly the SIMalliance, is tracking its Members’ market data and we started doing this almost 20 years ago (not quite 25 years!). We already started tracking the market share of Java Card in 2004 and back then, I think it’s not a secret if I disclose that we had a market share which was significant, but not yet reaching the level of native operating systems – we had something like 40%. Since then, the market share of Java Card and its adoption in the field steadily grew year on year and we see that this is going to grow even further in the future. So, with new exciting technologies, such as the eSIM, we see that, as far as I am aware, all the eSIMs that are commercially deployed out there in the field are all based on Java Card technology.
It has evolved significantly, because it’s adapting its requirements and capabilities to the needs of our ecosystems very well.
How have the TCA and JCF collaborated?
This started many years ago. The way that the TCA organises its work is by establishing Working Groups. And one of the first working groups that the TCA established was dealing with interoperability – a Working Group that is still alive today. Java Card was a brand new technology in the early days and even though it was claiming to be interoperable from the beginning, different vendors actually interpreted the specification slightly differently and also some of the capabilities and features requested by the customers of those same vendors, were not yet available in the Java Card specification, so proprietary extensions were implemented and that’s what was always causing problems when it comes to the interoperability. As we have key members of the TCA who are also key members of the JCF, we established some sort of “exchange”, so that findings of the TCA were then reported back into the JCF and could be brought into the specifications of Java Card, thus enhancing interoperability and also enhancing the feature set.
What benefits did this collaboration bring?
It improved interoperability – it brought benefits in particular to the whole SIM ecosystem I would say.
Maybe for the network operators it brought the benefit that they had one type of application, so it brought interoperability on the applet level in particular. The idea was to develop an applet once and to run it on all the different platforms of the various SIM vendors and that improved the network operators’ time to market, introducing new services on different SIM vendors’ platforms, because they just had to take the existing applet and put it onto the new SIM and deploy.
For the SIM vendors themselves, it also reduced their efforts, because they just had to develop their application once, and to run it, or even licence it to other SIM vendors, thus also creating additional revenue potential. So, it brought many benefits, in particular, increasing the interoperability of technical implementations.
How does the TCA see Java Card changing in line with the evolving IoT landscape?
The Internet of Things is actually very fragmented, so everyone is understanding something different by this term. You have a wide area of use cases and a wide area of different types of devices. But what they have in common, is that most of those devices need to be connected – so they have a need for connectivity again. And we think that this connectivity should be trusted. In the IoT you don’t currently have security experts, certainly not in the early days at least; they think – let’s connect a device and talk about security later. We think we have to make sure this is done at the very beginning. The technology that we are offering, with SIM technology, eSIM technology and also integrated SIM technology, provides a foundation for first of all enabling trusted connectivity, and of course also for putting additional applications on top of those platforms, that are increasing the security level of the IoT in general. So we think that with Java Card, we can inherit the benefits we have from the traditional SIM and take it and transfer it over into the IoT. And just to add on top of that, of course we also think that eSIM technology, which is based on Java Card these days, is also enabling the IoT to be trusted and more secure. There is also a lot that Java Card can bring with regards to Low Power, to Memory Sizes and so on…there are many features that Java Card is implementing already, that we can leverage off very well, so I think the future is bright for Java Card in IoT and I am very much looking forward to the continued collaboration between the 2 associations on this topic as well.
You can see this interview in video format here.