The 'Internet boom' of the past few years has spurred the development of a number of technologies to provide services such as secure communications, reliable messaging, information publishing and application distribution for commercial applications. Over the same period, a new generation of computer languages have also developed to provide object oriented design and development, improved reliability, and cross platform compatibility.
Whilst the business models of the 'dot.com' era proved to be largely unviable, the technologies that they were based upon have survived and have matured to the point were they can now be utilized to build secure, robust and complete observatory control control systems.
This paper will describe how Electro Optic Systems has utilized these technologies in the development of its third generation Robotic Observatory Control System (ROCS). ROCS provides an extremely flexible configuration capability within a control system structure to provide truly autonomous robotic observatory operation including observation scheduling. ROCS was built using Internet technologies such as Java, Java Messaging Service (JMS), Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), eXtendible Markup Language (XML), Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP) and Java WebStart.
ROCS was designed to be capable of controlling all aspects of an observatory and be able to be reconfigured to handle changing equipment configurations or user requirements without the need for an expert computer programmer. ROCS consists of many small components, each designed to perform a specific task, with the configuration of the system specified using a simple meta language. The use of small components facilitates testing and makes it possible to prove that the system is correct.