SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Gary Arora, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Mobile IoT, Industrial IoT, Microservices Expo

Mobile IoT: Article

Effectively Manage Embedded Solutions Remotely

Wherever there are embedded devices – embed management capabilities

To get through a long day at the office you grab a snack from the vending machine, which never seems to be out of your favorite item thanks to a network connection that sends inventory information and replenishment requests to the vending management company. After work, you call home and ask what to pick up for dinner, making the call using a Bluetooth connection between your cell phone and the communications system in your car. On the way home you stop at the grocery store to grab dinner and rent a DVD from a rental machine.

Transactions like these occur every day by people around the world thanks to embedded systems that run inside vending machines, gas pumps, kiosks, price checkers, retail point-of-sale stations and other devices within the retail, hospitality and financial sectors of the market. Embedded Systems can also be found in many household items including utility meters, appliances, security systems, set-top boxes like DVRs, and home electronics. There are even embedded systems in medical devices in hospitals and doctors' offices and in factories or industrial sectors as part of machine-to-machine (M2M) interfaces such as processing equipment, controllers, sensors and robotics/automation equipment.

Although embedded and remote devices are not always obvious, due to their behind-the-scenes role, they are becoming pervasive. There will be upwards of 400 million embedded devices and M2M connections by 2014. Last year, there were approximately 75 million embedded devices with cellular communication capability, but that's expected to triple to more than 2.2 billion by 2014. Along with this exponential growth, the number of M2M devices capable of 4G wireless communications is expected to grow from just 40,000 this year to 12.6 million in 2015.

Embedded Management Challenges
As the importance of embedded devices grows, so will the market, and along with it the need for effective remote device management solutions. Embedded devices need to be managed just like other IT assets, however, traditional enterprise IT management solutions are frequently not equipped to handle the challenges posed by embedded devices. This is because software residing on embedded devices must not only protect data, safeguard customer information and meet enterprise standards for network, device and data security, but it must also work to reduce, or eliminate, the occurrence of downtime.

Uptime is essential for embedded devices; this makes shutting them down for routine maintenance out of the question. Embedded systems are designed to run unattended, and are installed in equipment or locations that are far from the physical reach of those responsible for support and service.

Because of these challenges and characteristics, whenever and wherever embedded devices are used, remote management systems should be used along with them.

Implementation and Features
Since uptime is so important for embedded devices, and the devices may be hundreds of miles apart, monitoring and management features that help maintain uptime are extremely valuable. Below are the essential features and capabilities on how to remotely manage embedded devices.

Ability to Access the Device Remotely
Since it is not enough to just see what's happening within an embedded device, support staff also needs the ability to fix a problem. With remote access, administrators can perform troubleshooting without having to actually touch the device. Remote access minimizes downtime because it provides the centralized tools for faster problem resolution.

Two-Way Communication That Is Secure and Automated
Remote device management solutions with two-way communication are able to receive status reports, allowing them to utilize data and diagnostic information from embedded systems and then administer security updates, software patches and other changes. Two-way communication is a quintessential feature for proactive management because it alerts administrators to performance issues before actual problems occur.

Top-Level Security
Remote device management solutions are not only substitutes for building security safeguards into embedded devices, but should also augment and strengthen security. Embedded devices should have native protection to prevent hacking, secure data, and provide authentication for communication and data transfer. Device management solutions can enhance these protections by giving administrators the ability to remotely lock down devices, selectively or completely wipe data, block communications and data transfer, and otherwise disable the device.

Health Information from the Device
With device health updates, organizations can lengthen uptime by reducing the lag time between when a problem occurs and when it is discovered. Remote device management solutions automatically alert administrators when error messages are detected or when devices go offline, enabling issues to be identified and resolved quickly. The management system should also be able to collect, store, and report information about utilization and uptime, unauthorized access attempts and other historical data that can be used to help configure, manage, and secure the device.

Support for Multiple Platforms
Remote management solutions can add even more value by supporting various types of devices and being able to integrate with and complement existing enterprise management solutions. The management solution needn't be device specific; the same solution used to support embedded devices could also be used to manage other assets, such as smart phones, PDAs and handheld computers, kiosks, POS terminals, industrial controls. Device management solutions that support network standards; leading operating systems such Microsoft Windows Mobile, Microsoft Windows and Embedded CE; and multiple smart phone and device platforms provide value by enabling the organization to leverage its investment in management capabilities across multiple assets. The value of leveraging will increase, as organizations have to manage increasingly large and diverse populations of embedded, mobile and wireless devices. To further leverage legacy investments, the management solution for embedded devices should support and integrate with enterprise management solutions that may already be in place, such as Microsoft Configuration Manager 2007. Administrators do not want a separate management solution for each different type of device they need to support, so they should plan for the future by specifying management solutions that can support a heterogeneous environment.

Embedded devices are all around us, their capabilities are growing exponentially, and the installed base is projected to grow into tens of billions. The possibilities are exciting, but organizations need to be careful to ensure that as their population of embedded devices grows, they have the ability to manage them. Vending machines, kiosks, industrial controllers, and other embedded systems don't look like laptops or PDAs, but the principles and best practices for managing IT assets need to be applied to them. Wherever devices are embedded, remote management capabilities should be embedded with them so systems can be maintained reliably, efficiently, and securely.

More Stories By Mark Gentile

Mark Gentile is founder, president and CEO of Odyssey Software Inc, a pioneer in the mobile enterprise software market. He has led the design, development, and implementation of mobile enterprise solutions for many Fortune 500 companies across North America. Odyssey Software is the creator of Athena, the industry's premier enterprise-class mobile and embedded device management product for today’s most popular device platforms including the Windows Embedded CE operating system.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Latest Stories
While a hybrid cloud can ease that transition, designing and deploy that hybrid cloud still offers challenges for organizations concerned about lack of available cloud skillsets within their organization. Managed service providers offer a unique opportunity to fill those gaps and get organizations of all sizes on a hybrid cloud that meets their comfort level, while delivering enhanced benefits for cost, efficiency, agility, mobility, and elasticity.
Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simplicity and reach of the open web. With staff in 10 timezones, Isomorphic provides a global network of services related to our technology, with offerings ranging from turnkey application development to SLA-backed enterprise support. Leadin...
DevOps has long focused on reinventing the SDLC (e.g. with CI/CD, ARA, pipeline automation etc.), while reinvention of IT Ops has lagged. However, new approaches like Site Reliability Engineering, Observability, Containerization, Operations Analytics, and ML/AI are driving a resurgence of IT Ops. In this session our expert panel will focus on how these new ideas are [putting the Ops back in DevOps orbringing modern IT Ops to DevOps].
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Enterprises are striving to become digital businesses for differentiated innovation and customer-centricity. Traditionally, they focused on digitizing processes and paper workflow. To be a disruptor and compete against new players, they need to gain insight into business data and innovate at scale. Cloud and cognitive technologies can help them leverage hidden data in SAP/ERP systems to fuel their businesses to accelerate digital transformation success.
Concerns about security, downtime and latency, budgets, and general unfamiliarity with cloud technologies continue to create hesitation for many organizations that truly need to be developing a cloud strategy. Hybrid cloud solutions are helping to elevate those concerns by enabling the combination or orchestration of two or more platforms, including on-premise infrastructure, private clouds and/or third-party, public cloud services. This gives organizations more comfort to begin their digital tr...
Most organizations are awash today in data and IT systems, yet they're still struggling mightily to use these invaluable assets to meet the rising demand for new digital solutions and customer experiences that drive innovation and growth. What's lacking are potent and effective ways to rapidly combine together on-premises IT and the numerous commercial clouds that the average organization has in place today into effective new business solutions.
Keeping an application running at scale can be a daunting task. When do you need to add more capacity? Larger databases? Additional servers? These questions get harder as the complexity of your application grows. Microservice based architectures and cloud-based dynamic infrastructures are technologies that help you keep your application running with high availability, even during times of extreme scaling. But real cloud success, at scale, requires much more than a basic lift-and-shift migrati...
David Friend is the co-founder and CEO of Wasabi, the hot cloud storage company that delivers fast, low-cost, and reliable cloud storage. Prior to Wasabi, David co-founded Carbonite, one of the world's leading cloud backup companies. A successful tech entrepreneur for more than 30 years, David got his start at ARP Instruments, a manufacturer of synthesizers for rock bands, where he worked with leading musicians of the day like Stevie Wonder, Pete Townsend of The Who, and Led Zeppelin. David has ...
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Addteq is a leader in providing business solutions to Enterprise clients. Addteq has been in the business for more than 10 years. Through the use of DevOps automation, Addteq strives on creating innovative solutions to solve business processes. Clients depend on Addteq to modernize the software delivery process by providing Atlassian solutions, create custom add-ons, conduct training, offer hosting, perform DevOps services, and provide overall support services.
Contino is a global technical consultancy that helps highly-regulated enterprises transform faster, modernizing their way of working through DevOps and cloud computing. They focus on building capability and assisting our clients to in-source strategic technology capability so they get to market quickly and build their own innovation engine.
When applications are hosted on servers, they produce immense quantities of logging data. Quality engineers should verify that apps are producing log data that is existent, correct, consumable, and complete. Otherwise, apps in production are not easily monitored, have issues that are difficult to detect, and cannot be corrected quickly. Tom Chavez presents the four steps that quality engineers should include in every test plan for apps that produce log output or other machine data. Learn the ste...
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...