Case Study: The Sun SPOT project
In 2004 Sun needed to get the first version of the Sun SPOT working in a hurry. Syntropy fielded an initial team of two developers who by the end of the first three months had successfully written a bootstrap loader for the new ARM-based device, had ported a Java virtual machine to the platform, had built a rudimentary SDK to support application developers, and had built libraries to allow the device's radio to be used.
Over the next three and a half years, Syntropy continued to develop software for the platform. The Syntropy team expanded to five people, and Sun's internal team of developers from one to ten. Throughout this time Syntropy retained responsibility for the core platform software, the SDK, and took a major role in determining product direction. As well as writing software, Syntropy was responsible for developing and maintaining a continuous build and test facility and for creating regular binary releases. Particular technical challenges included developing a USB driver that can connect to a variety of hosts, devising a novel power-management system, and providing a framework to allow interrupt handling in Java.
As the Sun SPOT evolved it became a commercially available product, and Syntropy made a substantial contribution to the public support of the platform. As of July 2008, more than 15,000 Sun SPOTs have been manufactured. During 2007 and 2008 Sun SPOT became an open-source project, and over a six month period Syntropy gradually transferred its responsibilities to the Sun team, a smooth change with minimal loss of productivity.