How to Solve the Challenges of Embedded and IoT Development Life Cycle

26 July 2022

Liubomyr Sirskyi

Content Manager

Creating an embedded system with further integration into the IoT architecture requires having skills, particular knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of the project needs. Such a development process comprises multiple layers of tech solutions, so you have to consider many risks. 

You should have vast experience in embedded software development, and the future transition to the Internet of Things involves unique and considerable difficulties. And even if you assign this responsibility to a dedicated team, a basic understanding of the process is still required. Let’s review some challenges that may affect both the embedded and IoT development life cycle and ways to solve them. 

Solving Embedded Development Issues in Different Systems

Embedded systems are divided into two types, monolithic and distributed, and each of them poses unique advantages and challenges for your company. The embedded development life cycle starts with understanding the project objectives, and you have to identify the architecture you need. 

Monolithic Architecture

It is considered to be a classic software development approach. In this case, developers aim to build a unified and indivisible product that offers to maintain and configure an application in one place. Typically, a monolithic software system involves a client-side app, a server-side interface and a database.

In most cases, such an architecture comprises one code base. If developers need to update the system, you access the same place and change the whole stack. Thus, monolithic systems lack modularity.

How to Face the Monolithic System Challenges?

The only way to solve issues that can appear during the monolithic system development is the precise planning of the entire process, and you should do this at the design stage. When you start working on a new embedded system programming project, you should consider the following aspects:

  • The process workflow;
  • Elements;
  • Connectivity protocols that fit your needs and requirements

Remember: different elements and protocols have their strong and weak points. Thus, you have to create a monolithic system that will be in line with your project goals. 

Moreover, you should ensure that you have enough resources to make possible changes in the architecture during the development process. A minor change requires compiling and testing the entire system, making it expensive and time-consuming. 

Distributed Architecture

A distributed system is a set of monolithic programs with a common interface that provides proper communication and synchronisation. Such an approach allows to control the complex systems, so this embedded platform development approach will be more sophisticated. The primary purpose of such a system is to remove points of failure from the entire system.

How to Solve the Distributed System Challenges Across Different Layers

Distributed systems are way more complex than monolithic ones, so such an architecture has more inherent challenges and possible vulnerabilities. Let’s learn how to solve development issues at each system layer. 

  1. Heterogeneity. This factor applies to the software or network of different developers with middleware as the primary element. Middleware is the unique set of services that helps the client and the server exchange requests with each other. The intermediate server allows to solve problems with the API and tie together different products and systems in general.
  2. Openness. We can review this aspect from the perspective of resource-sharing services available to the users. In the open distributed system, all the critical interfaces are publicly accessible and comprise a unified communication algorithm and user interface. You can use heterogeneous software and hardware to build such a system. 
  3. Scalability. You should ensure that the embedded architecture will remain scalable even after a significant customer base growth and resource integration. 
  4. Security. You need to guarantee that all sensitive data are properly encrypted while transmitting through the distributed network. It will help to keep this information confidential and increase the overall level of system protection. 
  5. Failure Handling. When errors appear in the software and hardware performance, it may result in incorrect display of services or even a system crash. Thus, you have to consider implementing some corrective measures. It is challenging to do this in distributed systems because separate elements fail while others operate smoothly. 
  6. Concurrency. There is always a possibility that several users will request access to a particular system component. Therefore, each resource must work harmoniously and safely in a shared digital ecosystem to guarantee its reliability. 
  7. Transparency. This factor is vital for the distributed system because it guarantees that users or developers perceive it as a whole. At the same time, an ordinary user should not know where the code base is located, while a transparent services deployment in the virtual space is critical for developers. 

Microservices are another type of distributed system to create more comprehensive apps. Read more about the microservices definition and features of this type of app infrastructure here.

Solving IoT Development Lifecycle Issues

When you link a certain number of devices into an autonomous system with internet access, they become a part of the Internet of Things. But such a transition entails unique issues to solve at the initial stage of the IoT app development life cycle.

Connectivity

Cloud services are a common thing for Internet of Things solutions, but they could also carry some risks. Suppose your IoT platform uses an application logic stored on a cloud. And if the client-side app cannot access those data, the entire system will fail. Further, a centralised communication system also has the same risk, as crashing the main application will stop the IoT infrastructure. 

In this case, implementing a nonnetworked approach for performing non-smart tasks would be the best solution. To be more precise, a mesh network implementation is a way to protect your system from failures. Devices can identify, authenticate themselves and communicate with each other without direct access to the cloud. Thus, the device can exchange data on a certain level and perform its tasks.

Compatibility and Flexibility

The IoT development life cycle is constantly improving, so you have to ensure that your system is compatible with future tech updates. 

However, you would have to consider the level of compatibility. While building hardware for your software may enhance its performance, it can also significantly slow down product updates. On the other hand, choosing storage and computational resources designed specifically for IoT applications may result in performance degradation, but it may also enable you to expand the device functionality.

Finally, you have to ensure that your Internet of Things device can be smoothly integrated with the client-side application. It may guarantee an appropriate level of compatibility with more advanced technologies.

Cross-Platform Deployments

The IoT environment involves devices having different protocols and architecture that should be interoperable. Therefore, renowned and reputable technical professional organisations (e.g., IEEE and IETF) developed open architecture modules and standards for seamless cross-platform deployment of IoT solutions. 

They are always updated, and the Internet-of-Things services have to leverage all the best practices to provide ​​mutual communication between various devices.

Gateways Selection

As mentioned above, there are many variables in the IoT architecture. And the gateways are critical to act as central hubs and connect elements with different connectivity protocols and energy profiles (Wi-Fi, serial ports, Bluetooth, etc.). These gateways could be found between IoT devices, sensors, and clouds so that the entire environment relies on them. 

Modern intelligent gateways provided by top global manufacturers (Siemens, Advantech, Cisco Systems, etc.) comprise some mandatory features to make the developers’ activity easier. They guarantee safe and credible data flow between the cloud and IoT devices by default. Thus, you should choose the one that meets your needs and requirements in interface specs, memory capacities, power rating and other parameters. 

Final Word

A well-thought-out embedded and IoT development life cycle helps you to reach the expected goals faster and avoid budget overruns. However, you should have extensive domain expertise and experience in working on such architecture types and address problems that are intractable to them. Therefore, you should ask for assistance from a reliable software development vendor to create a scalable and robust system. At Rocketech, we know how to develop functional software. Our dedicated teams implement advanced methodologies to create stable and secure digital products that deliver the results you need. Thus, you can benefit from such an effective collaboration. And if you are looking for a trustworthy partner to launch and develop your startup, contact us now. 

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