Arm Sees Containers Driving IoT Applications

Arm, at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018 conference this week, announced it will make available an on-premises edition of its Mbed Cloud platform for managing internet of things (IoT) devices based on Kubernetes and the OpenStack cloud platform.

Hima Mukkamala, general manager of IoT Cloud Services, for Arm, says the maker of processors that are widely employed in embedded systems built Mbed Cloud as a complement to Mbed OS, a free lightweight operating system the company developed that can run on both Arm and third-party processors.

Both efforts are required because customers have been asking Arm to provide a means for managing distributed IoT environments, says Mukkamala.

Arm chose Kubernetes to build Mbed Cloud because the company expects most of IoT applications will be based on lightweight containers rather than hypervisors that are too large to deploy on endpoints. That decision also makes it possible for Arm to now offer an on-premises edition of Mbed Cloud because Kubernetes can run on multiple platforms. In many instances, customers that operate in highly regulated industries prefer to run IoT management software themselves, says Mukkamala.

While most IoT projects are still relatively nascent, it may turn out that devices connected to the internet are ideal platforms for containers. Most of these devices don’t have enough memory to run anything else. In addition, containers provide a means to build applications capable of running on multiple processors. Most IoT environments today consist of a broad range of different classes of processors.

Mukkamala says Arm also expects to enable developers to take advantage of continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) software needed to employ DevOps processes to build those applications. Arm already makes available a cloud-based integrated development environment (IDE) to build IoT applications.

Most IoT applications will also need to be regularly updated with new capabilities as the scope of any given project increases. Rather than updating applications using patches, containers provide a more efficient approach—new functionality is added simply by replacing one container with another.

GSMA, the industry consortium that host MWC, forecasts that the number of IoT connections using both cellular and non-cellular connections will increase more than threefold between 2017 and 2025 to reach 25 billion. Most existing projects are silos that are managed in isolation. But Mukkamala says it’s now only a matter of time before organizations move to centralize the management of projects that are starting to proliferate across the enterprise.

Most of those deployments are also managed by operations teams that often are beyond the purview of traditional IT departments. But as IT leaders start to exercise more control of IoT projects, it’s not clear who exactly will be put in charge of managing deployments inside an organization.

Regardless of who is in charge, the one thing that demand for IoT applications is building rapidly, which may mean that large number of applications are likely to be deployed in advance of any consistent approaches to managing them.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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