Pelion Device Management: May 2020 Updates Release

The only constant in life is change. As we continue to evolve the scope and range of the Pelion Device Management service, the last quarter has witnessed the delivery of some significant new features.

The main themes that we've focused on are:

•Support for Wi-SUN, a large-scale mesh network technology
• Monitoring device security and operations
• Maintaining device management effectiveness, even when these are only intermittently connected
• Distributing and managing applications at the Edge, accelerating the pace of innovation
• Support for devices running alternative embedded operating systems, and for ultra-constrained devices

I'll address a few of the most exciting and significant here, but complete details are available in the release notes here. We hope that you find these new capabilities fascinating, and hopefully, you can put some of them to work in your current or future IoT project.

Wi-Sun: Standards-Based Field-Area Networking

New feature in early availability

Wi-SUN - the "SUN" part being an acronym for Smart Ubiquitous Networks - is a field-area network radio technology that's finding particular resonance in outdoor infrastructure operations such as automated metering infrastructure. This smart metering example is one of several use-cases that need a proven, long-term technology option that avoids vendor lock-in; being standardized as IEEE 802.15.4g means that Wi-SUN is becoming increasingly popular. Wi-SUN reduces the installation and operational costs of IoT deployments and opens the door for additional IoT use-cases.

Pelion delivers a complete, end-to-end Wi-SUN implementation, with support for a Router Node (with integrated PDM Client), a Border Router (based on Mbed OS) that's compatible with both the PDM Cloud and On-Premises service alternatives, and "unique services" for Router Nodes. This comprehensive solution presents significant value to solution integrators, removing the burden of designing and developing a Wi-SUN implementation of their own, and freeing them to concentrate on IoT application development.

Device Sentry: Proactive Device Health Monitoring

New feature in early availability

Data is the lifeblood of IoT: sensors and devices produce data and interact with applications. Without a system that confers trust, there's a risk that organizations will unknowingly make flawed decisions due to incomplete or invalid data. The challenge only multiplies with scale, where the opportunities to manually check devices or scan logs disappear.

Device Sentry, a feature built into the Pelion Device Management Client, captures crucial device metrics and sends these to our Cloud-hosted service, providing a system-wide view of device health. The feature support flexibly in terms of the indicators that are to be collected, including memory use, CPU behavior, network traffic, thread count, and others. Analysis of these metrics provides powerful insight into a wide range of potential problems. Device Sentry provides out-of-the-box monitoring without the need for any additional development effort. Its proactive, reporting-by-exception approach enables operational teams to focus on only those that are misbehaving quickly.

Duncan Jones from the Devices Product Management team recently hosted a webinar and also blogged about Device Sentry.

Device Echo: Snapshotting Intermittent Devices

New feature in early availability

More and more use-cases see constrained devices establishing only limited or intermittent connectivity. This model could be the result of remote location, limited or expensive connectivity options, or a conscious decision to minimize energy consumption and maximize battery life. However, transient connectivity can play havoc with effective device management; the loss of device visibility and status can make the operator's life very difficult.

Pelion Device Management resolves this challenge with the introduction of Device Echo. This feature maintains a timestamped view of device status, values, resources, and commands (both executed and pending), regardless of a device's current connectivity status. Leveraging this digital snapshot, Device Echo enables interactive monitoring applications or real-time operational decisions to continue, unimpeded.

Container Orchestration: Enabling the Edge

New feature available for preview

There is a growing trend to complement Cloud-based applications and data processing with a computing capability at the Edge. There are several reasons for this: patchy, expensive, or low-performance WAN connectivity, to avoid the latency inherent in shipping data out to the Cloud, or to create an autonomous processing environment. Edge Gateways provide a solution but, in doing so, introduce the new challenge of maintaining applications in a highly distributed environment.

Pelion Device Management solves this by creating an Edge-centric capability to deploy containers to resource-rich devices easily, dynamically programmed and managed from the Cloud. New application software, new machine learning models, software updates and security patches, and modular peripherals changes are seamlessly supported. This offering brings several clear advantages to IoT deployments, including pushing compute capabilities closer to the Edge, reducing network latency and bandwidth, ensuring services and operations are maintained even with intermittent Cloud connectivity. Additionally, it enables efficient utilization of hardware assets, helping to streamline digital transformation projects. The ability to deploy containers at the Edge comes in addition to Pelion Device Management’s ability to update the complete device firmware. Container orchestration simplifies and reduces the development and verification cycles compared to a full firmware update. As a result, it allows IoT to move at “Internet speed” and not at the pace of conventional IT.

Deepak Poornachandra, also of the Devices PM team, recently delivered a webinar on the subject of compute enablement at the Edge.

Support for Free RTOS: More Choice, Less Effort

New feature in general availability

Given its layered architecture and porting abstraction layer, Pelion Device Management Client can support any OS, and many customers have either a preference or a requirement to combine Pelion with an RTOS other than the native Mbed. One such example is the FreeRTOS product that's popular with embedded systems.

Therefore, in association with two of our key IoT ecosystem partners, NXP and Renesas, the Pelion Device Management Client offers off-the-shelf support for FreeRTOS. Beginning with the Client 4.4.0 release, we have added full support for FreeRTOS, removing the need for any additional development work beyond integration with the Client APIs. Examples using NXP's popular LPC5400 series and Renesas RA6M3 boards are now available, and it's possible to use either of these targets or any other FreeRTOS target, with minimal porting effort.

Pelion Device Management Client Lite: Solutions for a Constrained World

New feature in Alpha testing and available for PoC trials

As IoT gets pushed further, broader, and deeper, leveraging smaller and more constrained devices, the limitations of the conventional device management client stack become more pronounced.
In response to the needs of this new generation of ultra-constrained device designs, Arm has developed the Pelion Device Management Client Lite. This lightweight version of the Client enables customers to use smaller and most cost-effective IoT chipsets while maintaining appropriate security levels with full X.509 certificate-based authentication and encryption.

The lightweight Client's design allows boards with just 512 kB Flash and 64 kB RAM (internal flash only solution), or 256 kB Flash, 64 kB RAM, and additional SPI-flash for the firmware image management area, to support a full update capability. SPI-flash is a cost-effective way to provide storage when the application also needs to store data before uploading it to the Cloud.

For more information about these latest feature enhancements, Pelion Device Management in general, or to see a demo, please contact us.

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