Engineering 101

Harness Power of Cloud-Native Approaches for Embedded Systems Development

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Specialist in delivering software for critical infrastructure, Wind River, has announced the latest enhancements to Wind River Linux. This release delivers technology to ease adoption of containers in embedded systems.

It provides resources such as pre-built containers, tools, and documentation as well as support for frameworks such as Docker and Kubernetes, all of which can help embedded system developers in their journey to leverage or deploy cloud-native development approaches, especially relevant for appliances at the network edge. Wind River Linux is freely available for download.

Due to compelling advantages such as improved operational or cost efficiencies, information technology (IT) has progressively entered into the operational technology (OT) realm. However, given key system and market requirement differences between IT and OT, IT technology often can’t simply be swapped into an OT system for a successful deployment.

A similar trend is occurring with container technology. While containers can deliver powerful benefits such as greater scalability and flexibility, most current frameworks lack the right design or support for mission-critical industries that typically employ devices with extremely long lifecycles.

Embedded devices in the OT realm, such as those for industrial, medical equipment, and automotive systems, also often require lightweight, reliable software with long lifecycles. Existing container technologies and platforms, like those in enterprise Linux, are often bloated or require updates too frequently to run effectively on these embedded systems.

Wind River Linux includes container technology that supports development and orchestration frameworks such as Docker and Kubernetes. It is Docker compatible under Open Container Initiative (OCI) specifications, but it is also lighter weight and has a smaller footprint than Docker, which is often a vital need for embedded systems. Delivering a Yocto Project Compatible cross-architecture container management framework, Wind River Linux helps ease and accelerate the use of containers for embedded developers.

Drawing from proven embedded expertise, the container technology in Wind River Linux, dubbed OverC, integrates components from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and the Yocto Project to help define a comprehensive framework for building and deploying containers for embedded systems. Initially developed at Wind River and available on GitHub this technology supports virtually any processor architecture and orchestration environment.

Michel Genard, Vice President of Product at Wind River, said: “Cloud native computing architectures and technologies such as containers can provide many advantages because of their speed, scale, and economic benefits. However, the cost, complexity, and lack of appropriate resources around technologies for embedded systems have typically made their use prohibitive.

“By using our pre-integrated container platform, embedded developers can now readily take advantage of container technologies and accelerate their innovation and development. With decades of embedded system expertise and more than 15 years as an active contributor and committed champion of open source, Wind River understands the unique needs of our community.”

Although Linux containers have been widely deployed in data centers and IT environments, without easy-to-use pre-integrated platforms or meaningful engagement across the ecosystem, container use has been scarce in small-footprint and long-lifecycle edge embedded systems. With this release, Wind River Linux removes the difficulties and lowers the barrier of entry for container usage in embedded software projects for a diverse range of applications including industrial control systems, autonomous vehicles, medical devices and equipment, Internet of Things (IoT) gateways, Radio Access Network (RAN) products, and a wide range of network appliances.

Wind River container technology allows for cloud native development across both the near edge and far edge and is appropriate for critical infrastructure markets.

By incorporating containers in Wind River Linux and combining this runtime with technologies such as the edge compute software product Wind River Helix Virtualization Platform heterogeneous systems employing a mix of OSes and requiring determinism and safety certification can leverage the scalability of containers while meeting the often stringent requirements of embedded systems.

To address the lifecycle needs of mission-critical systems, a Wind River Linux subscription provides access to long-term support and maintenance, including security updates, for the fully upstream Wind River Linux content. The predictable Wind River product release cadence incorporates the latest code from the most important open source efforts.

Customers can also opt for additional services and training to create a successful device-optimized solution. By leveraging commercial grade ISO 9001:2015–certified Wind River Linux, support, and services, teams can significantly reduce production and maintenance costs and accelerate development cycles in comparison to in-house efforts.

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