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DevOps in IoT: Creating a Connected Future

devops in iot creating a connected future

 

The growing adoption of Internet of Things is making enterprises and consumers alike excited about the prospect of a connected future.  IoT devices happen to have a life-cycle beyond deployment, as each one is essential to the proper functioning of a larger, connected ecosystem comprising many other devices. Think of a large number of self-driven cars hitting the road simultaneously, eventually taking over to become the majority of the traffic. If only one goes down during transit, the gridlock that would ensue is going to be of catastrophic proportions.

 

Clearly, the above example suggests that the biggest prerequisite in the development of an IoT solution is the ability to provide for continuous feedback and value improvement to ensure that the final offering is free from defects or problems running into future. This is where DevOps methodology can play a very important role.

 

Why DevOps in IoT

Most organizations already employ agile technologies and continuous build and deployment for software in place. As software release cycles get shorter, the same can be expected from the corresponding devices. DevOps, in IT, has been widely praised for its ability to simplify code, ensure high quality software with greater automation coverage and highly reduced time-to-market.

 

The same advantages of DevOps can be further extended to the world of real IoT devices. The parallels are definitely there even when you’re dealing with not just code, but actual IoT devices. For example, the culture of collaboration and information sharing which characterize DevOps can be very effective in bringing more synergy into the business processes, meeting release timelines and identifying errors/defects in real time.

 

The other case to be made for DevOps in IoT of course is the fact that with the ability to constantly update devices and features, businesses are afforded new opportunities for business and innovation. The bottom-line impact for product engineering businesses that implement DevOps methodology presents a very strong case for DevOps.

 

A truly connected world – a dream or a nightmare?

The question that comes to mind is if DevOps in IoT is as inevitable as it sounds and if it offers such a huge competitive advantage then why hasn’t it already been adopted more widely?

 

The reason very simply is that there are a lot of inherent differences in instituting DevOps in IT as opposed to in IoT. Check out this white paper to find out more. The challenges faced by IoT companies though can be mitigated by having the willingness to embrace the change as well as putting into place the right technology.

 

The key to making sure that applied DevOps methodology doesn’t end up being a nightmare situation for an IoT company is to ensure that DevOps is not force-fitted into the company. Every environment in IoT is unique and has its own unique DevOps solution.

 

It is important to remember that DevOps is not simply an amalgamation of Development and Operations.  It is a cultural paradigm shift towards working collaborative and leaner solutions. IoT on the other hand is about people. Connecting devices, processes, people and things to create the ultimate consumer experience. Both are ultimately about people and together can create a truly connected world as long as flexibility and scalability are taken into account.

 

To know more about DevOps in IoT and about how eInfochips can help you find your custom DevOps fit, watch this video or email us directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

An Introduction to Environment as Code in DevOps

When Infrastructure as Code is simply not enough!

 

In the last few years, organizations aiming for continuous delivery have started treating their entire infrastructure as if it were just a piece of software. This philosophy known as “Infrastructure as Code (IAC)” allows project teams to combine together development pipelines, physical servers, cloud apps and virtual machines, simulators, and the entire automation environment.

 

infrastructure as code

Figure 1: Infrastructure as Code

 

The central idea here is that operations teams should be able to monitor their infrastructure in exactly the same way that development teams manage the versions and releases of their software code. The DevOps strategy revolves around achieving simultaneous development and operations.

 

When Infrastructure as Code is not enough

Virtualization, automation, cloud, etc should ideally simplify IoT workflow just like it does with IT. It should take less time to perform certain tasks, detect problems and solve them if go and release cycles are shortened considerably. Adopting these technologies makes making changes easier. IT companies all over the world are switching to DevOps and infrastructure as code in the footsteps of Amazon, Netflix and the like.

 

But, most IoT companies find out later that it doesn’t work out the same as it does for IT companies given the physical component of their universe and other factors that set them apart from in-born cloud companies. In fact, applying ad hoc DevOps principles to an IoT environment does more harm than good.

 

Struggling to keep pace with technological advances and customer demands requires an increased workflow efficiency while performing a balancing act between legacy systems and cloud. This is where environment as code can come in real handy.

 

What is Environment as Code?

Environment as code can be defined as the approach of applying the DevOps methodology and tools to the entire production environment as opposed to only the infrastructure.

 

The original idea was to apply modern tooling in such a manner so as to treat the infrastructure of a company as code and software. This gave rise to continuous delivery and automation in release and testing. This methodology proved useful time and again in very tough IT environments like Amazon. In fact, Amazon coined the phrase infrastructure as code in the first place.

 

There aren’t too many dramatic differences. This is where environment as code comes in real helpful. As we will see, this is an approach which helps companies increase efficiency and focus on the final outcome.

 

environment as code in devops

Figure 2: Environment as Code

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Summary

Every company is unique due to its culture and thus must be unique solutions. DevOps tools remain the same across IT and IoT the trick in IoT is to know where to apply them in each specific environment to achieve the desired outcome.

 

eInfochips has helped many clients in the connected devices realm to achieve workflow efficiency by applying DevOps methodologies to the environment. To know more about how eInfochips can help you transition to environment as code download our white paper on DevOps for the Age of Connected Devices or get in touch with us directly on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

DevOps in Medical Devices

devops in medical devices

 

Success in today’s marketplace calls for a greatly reduced product development cycle which can combine speed, agility and precision to roll out new offerings and services in weeks, sometimes days, not months. Struggling with organizational silos is increasingly seen as an innovation-killer. In recent times, DevOps has emerged as a major methodology to realize this vision.

 

Cloud-based companies like Netflix and Amazon have demonstrated that you really need to move very fast in a new launch, and that the best way to go about is breaking down silos and applying good practices and principles that improve and collaboration.  With an increasingly short time to market, they changed the entire test and release cycle paradigm in the industry.

 

It is important to note that while companies that are pure play IT were quick to make the shift to DevOps, enterprises dealing in physical devices haven’t kept pace with the transition. 

 

DevOps methodology is difficult to implement in heavy industry because it is not just a set of parameters; it’s an entire cultural upheaval. For a company dealing with physical devices and operating in the IoT realm, it becomes even more complex as you have to deal with both software and hardware. DevOps in medical devices is even more complex as one should be sure to factor in compliance issues and device security.

 

Why DevOps?

Medical Devices traditionally follow the Waterfall methodology of development, where design is predefined, testing is often manual and updates can take months to roll out due to a bloated architecture. In a market space where technology changes and upgrades happen on a daily basis, models can become obsolete very quickly and there is no way to predict what’s missing until the device goes to market.

 

This is where DevOps comes into play. With the introduction of the DevOps methodology, the architecture becomes leaner thus allowing for teams to make changes faster and more efficiently. This, in turn, addresses two major problems the industry faces: the inability to meet changing market needs during the development process and the inability to factor in feedback from end users, thus leading to design misses. Essentially, the faster they discover information, the easier it is to achieve course correction.

 

What are the Challenges?

In addition to the typical challenges faced by any IoT company across legacy systems, product pipelines, culture and release cadence, a company dealing in medical devices needs to additionally address infrastructure and compliance issues.

 

Building a medical device is a complicated process with the involvement of software, hardware, firmware and the creation of live testing environments. A team working on such a project needs a solid platform with proper infrastructure and tooling in order to implement continuous test and build.

 

All medical devices need to meet certain safety, security and audit standards before they can be released into the market. The downside of not meeting these rigorous standards can come at the cost of human lives at its very worst. Factoring in the automation to reliably and securely manage the meeting of these standards while employing agile technologies is paramount.

 

In Conclusion

While each industry has its specific needs and pain points, each company in any given industry has its own unique set of problems and solutions. eInfochips has helped many of its IoT and connected devices clients achieve their individual DevOps goals. Click here to read about how we helped a medical devices company optimize DevOps.

 

To know more about the benefits of DevOps in IoT environment, download our white paper.

DevOps in IT versus DevOps in Internet-of-Things

DevOps in IT versus DevOps in Internet-of-Things

 

In our last post on How DevOps drives business in PES, we briefly touched on the key differences between DevOps for connected devices and DevOps for pure play IT. It was shown that when it comes to product engineering, the physical component and existing legacy systems add an extra layer of complexity to the overall automation process.

 

In this post, we will elaborate further on the key differences between DevOps in IoT companies and pure play IT, and the specific challenges that teams working in IoT and connected devices are trying to address to achieve a smooth transition to DevOps methodology.

 

Development Pipeline

A company operating in the IoT space, more often than not, recruits teams with diverse skills-set and operations, given the vast variety of hardware and software that they have to deal with. Such a diversity usually leads to the creation of multiple small teams and a very fragmented development pipeline, with each team working in phases.

 

To introduce and leverage DevOps tools and methodology to such a team, there is further need for aspects like culture, team synergies and processes that need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

 

Conversely, a company that is purely IT focused, has the advantage of a lean development production line along with streamlined processes and a culture conducive to ensuring smooth DevOps adoption.

 

Product Pipeline

In any IoT environment, the set of end points change fast when compared to a software or a cloud-based company.

 

When talking about software-based companies, while the OS and the screen might change, the delivery of the product is still limited to a handful of devices such as mobiles, TV or tablets.

 

In an IoT company, on the other hand, the product pipeline varies substantially. With not only different types of devices, but different generations of each such device and varied interfaces, the challenges faced by an IoT company when setting up a DevOps system is bigger than what is imagined.

 

At any given time, a company dealing with millions of live devices and multiple virtualized test environments need to be able to deploy successfully across a variety of devices. The DevOps methodology, when applied to IoT, needs to take into account the various end points to be able to set up a befitting BVT (build, verification, test) plan.

 

Automation

When talking about automation, the biggest difference between an IT and an IoT company lies in WHAT has to be automated. In an IT company, the automation has more to do with processes where continuous delivery is achieved through automating the software and creating a BVT process or what in DevOps is known as Infrastructure as Code (IaC).

 

In an IoT company, however, it isn’t just the software that needs automation but the entire production environment. In order to achieve test delivery in time, the entire environment needs to be virtualized and automation has to be executed with simulation and physical devices. In order to automate the workflow in an IoT company, there is a need to move from Infrastructure to Environment as code.

 

Legacy Systems

Cloud-based companies like Uber or Netflix have reduced dependence on legacy systems. For them, DevOps, thus, is a fairly straightforward affair.

 

For a company without cloud legacy, however, DevOps has far-reaching impact since there is continued dependence on legacy systems. The legacy products that cannot be cut off for a few years to come, and those clubbed with cloud, creates the need to manage, update and maintain existing as well as newly added devices. While this does naturally increase the complexity when introducing DevOps in the mix, it also makes for all the difference when DevOps practices are implemented correctly.

 

Release Cadence

In a pure play IT company, software can be released and distributed as often as needed and across as many platforms at any given time.

 

In IoT, on the other hand, the large number of components involved in both the cloud and the physical realm have very different release cycles, thus, making a unified release plan a huge challenge.

 

In Summary

There is no-one-size-fit-all solution which would work in DevOps environments. Every company has its own unique set of hurdles to overcome depending on its culture, legacy and devices. We can talk about the same technology where DevOps in PES is concerned but what makes the real difference is how we can fit of the tool to a specific environment.

 

To know more about how eInfochips can help you transition to environment as code download our white paper on DevOps for the Age of Connected Devices or get in touch with us directly on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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