The embedded software, often referred to as firmware, is permanently installed on dedicated hardware resulting in a single embedded software. The environment in which we are living and working is filled with embedded software. All electronic devices can perform “smart” functions due to their native embedded software.
In addition to monitors, printers, routers, digital cameras, flash memory sticks, headphones, and other computer peripherals, embedded software is a core component of household appliances. Washing machines, microwave ovens, digital televisions, video cameras, mobile phones, etc are a part of it.
Building an embedded system that can be integrated into the IoT architecture requires a thorough understanding of the project requirements. There are many risks associated with such a development process that includes multiple layers of tech solutions.
Let’s review some challenges that can affect both embedded and IoT development life cycles and what can be done about them.
Resolving embedded development issues in a variety of systems
Embedded software development starts with understanding what kind of system you need. The two types of embedded systems are monolithic and distributed, and each has its advantages and applications.
Monolithic systems consist of only one device serving a few purposes. A monolithic body, as its name implies, is a single unit that collects input from the outside, conveys it through the interface, and produces a predefined output.
For instance, your washing machine is a monolithic system that receives input from the user by pressing buttons and switching dials. Upon receiving the data, the central processing unit (CPU) produces certain outputs prompting the machine to start washing.
Solving monolithic system design challenges
A monolithic system’s embedded development challenges can be solved through precise planning at the design stage. A new embedded software development project requires you to choose the right process workflow, components, and connectivity protocols based on your business requirements. You need to design a system based on your needs and goals because different components, interfaces, and protocols have strengths and weaknesses.
Monolithic systems can be used to build large, versatile distributed networks. By connecting monolithic devices that perform different tasks and serve different purposes, you can create an ecosystem that suits the needs of your business. Your smart factory can be equipped with a network of sensors to track inventory. When several sensors are connected within a single network, they form a distributed system, rather than being monolithic on their own.
Distributed systems are collections of monolithic systems that gather data and send it to the main processor (Gateway), which makes decisions based on that data or user commands. Embedded development lifecycles can be more complex when dealing with a distributed system, since it allows control over diverse and complex systems.
A smart home, for instance, is a distributed system. Despite being a single infrastructure, it contains many monolithic devices connected to the control unit or gateway via a network. To tackle the challenges of distributed systems across the embedded development lifecycle, it is essential to map out the entire infrastructure beforehand.
Solving challenges across distributed systems
A distributed system has more inherent embedded development challenges and vulnerabilities because it is a more complex type of infrastructure.
What are the best ways to solve distributed system challenges across different layers?
Since distributed systems are much more complex than monolithic ones, they present more inherent challenges and vulnerabilities. Let’s examine how each system layer contributes to development issues.
- Heterogeneity. Middleware is the primary element of software or a network of different developers. A middleware system facilitates the exchange of requests between a client and a server. Using the intermediate server, we can solve API problems and tie together different products and systems.
- Openness. We can examine this aspect from the perspective of resource-sharing services available to users. All the critical interfaces in an open distributed system are publicly accessible and include a unified communication algorithm and user interface. Such a system can be built using heterogeneous software and hardware.
- Scalability. It is important to ensure that the embedded architecture remains scalable even after significant growth in customer base and resource integration.
- Security. While transmitting sensitive data through a distributed network, you must ensure that it is properly encrypted. Keeping this information confidential will enhance the overall security of the system.
- Failure Handling. An incorrect display of services or a system crash may result from errors in software and hardware performance. It is therefore necessary to implement some corrective measures. Having separate elements fail while others work smoothly is challenging in distributed systems.
- Concurrency. It is always possible that several users will request access to a particular system component. To guarantee reliability, each resource must work harmoniously and safely within a shared digital ecosystem.
- Transparency. For a distributed system, this factor is essential for ensuring that users or developers perceive it as a whole. Developers need a transparent deployment of services in the virtual space, and ordinary users shouldn’t know where the code base is located.
Dealing with IoT development lifecycle issues
An Internet of Things is formed when a number of autonomous devices are linked together with internet access. In the early stages of the life cycle of an IoT app development, a transition like this presents unique challenges.
Internet of Things solutions often use cloud services, but these services also come with some risks. Let’s say your IoT platform uses cloud-based application logic. This will fail the entire system if the client-side app cannot access those data. A centralized communication system also runs the same risk, as crashing the main application will stop the IoT infrastructure.
It would be best to implement a non-networked approach to performing non-smart tasks in this case. An implementation of a mesh network protects your system from failure. Without direct access to the cloud, devices can identify themselves, authenticate themselves, and communicate with each other. As a result, the device can exchange data at a certain level and perform its functions.
Flexibility and compatibility
It is imperative that your system remains compatible with future technology updates as the IoT Development life cycle keeps evolving with the time.
Compatibility must be considered, however. Hardware development can increase the performance of your software, but it can also significantly slow down product updates. Furthermore, you may be able to expand the functionality of your IoT device by choosing storage and computational resources designed specifically for IoT applications.
The final step is to ensure that an IoT device can be smoothly integrated into a client-side application. The technology may be compatible with advanced technologies to an appropriate level.
There are different protocols and architectures for IoT devices that must be interoperable with each other. For seamless cross-platform deployment of IoT Solutions, reputable technical professional organizations (e.g., IEEE and IETF) developed open architecture modules and standards.
All the best practices must be incorporated into Internet-of-Things services for devices to communicate with each other.
IoT architecture has many variables, as mentioned above. It is important for gateways to act as central hubs that connect elements of different protocols and energy profiles (Wi-Fi, serial port, Bluetooth, etc.), as well as to act as central hubs. A gateway could be found between IoT devices, sensors, and clouds so that the entire environment is connected.
Several mandatory features are included in modern intelligent gateways provided by top global manufacturers (Siemens, Advantech, Cisco Systems, etc.). These features ensure reliable and secure data exchange between the cloud and IoT devices. Consequently, you should select the one that meets your requirements in terms of interface specs, memory capacities, power rating, etc.
A well-planned embedded and IoT development life cycle will help you meet your goals faster and avoid budget overruns. If you are working on such architecture types, you must possess extensive domain expertise and experience in addressing problems intractable to them. To create a scalable and robust system, you should hire a reliable software development company.