Common Framework Simplicity Speeds Route to IoE Solutions
Embedded developers in firms big and small can bring their industrial, consumer, medical and mobile offerings to market more readily when buoyed by fully open software (FOSS) collaboration.
Each day more devices join the repertoire of smart technology, continuing to expand the Internet of Everything (IoE), creating a demand for a broad ecosystem in which technology leaders may collaborate.
Non-profit foundations, including relative newcomer the prpl Foundation, encourage fully open source software (FOSS) collaboration across industry and community. prpl Foundation focuses on enabling next-generation data center-to-device portable software and virtualized architectures. One of prpl’s focus areas is OpenWrt, a Linux distribution for embedded devices. Industry and community collaboration on a common FOSS baseline software stack can help facilitate new IoE products, applications and technologies. Rallying around a FOSS stack also enables easier connectivity and data exchange across a variety of platforms.
Figure 1. The diversity of platforms across the Internet of Everything (IoE) is driving the need for a common fully open source software (FOSS) baseline software stack. Photo courtesy wikimedia.org
Fully open source software creates collaboration across the industry and nurtures quicker go-to-market solutions through a common software stack. As opposed to handling different software stacks from multiple companies, FOSS offers the simplicity of a common framework. In this respect, developers are able to innovate solutions more efficiently.
Shutting the Door on Security Exploits Quickly
Whether the software is proprietary or open, exploits can occur. Although some consumers and businesses fret about open source software security, the facts don’t support this concern. Open source software offers enhanced protection. FOSS can enable any experienced developer to figure out a patch to close the exploit and then distribute that patch quickly. This availability of the source and tools to recompile and fix bugs enables quick resolution, whereas proprietary software patching is limited to developers or companies who have access to the source and tools. FOSS serves the masses by allowing larger companies to support a variety of customers, from loyal VIP customers to start-up-sized companies who can self-serve their way into the market.
The prpl Foundation brings industry, individual consultants and developers together, allowing for cross-functional collaboration. No one company demonstrates expertise in all facets of today’s complex products, but when multiple developers from across the globe focus on one reference software stack, multiple industries, such as the Wi-Fi router industry, may experience accelerated growth.
Here Comes More WiFi Connectivity
It is with this in mind that prpl established a “prpl engineering group” (PEG) focused on OpenWrt. OpenWrt’s initial target was Wi-Fi routers; however the scope has grown to anything that is a small-footprint device with limited memory footprint and processing power. This facilitates integration of new applications and technologies and benefits from enabling Wi-Fi connectivity across a variety of platforms in the market. OpenWrt provides a framework for providing Wi-Fi connectivity into a broad range of new IoE devices, opening possibilities for IoE industry members to use this small footprint operating system to leverage what has already been successful for Wi-Fi access points (APs).
Qualcomm Atheros currently supports prpl in two PEGs, the OpenWrt PEG and the security and virtualization PEG. Consumers expect efficiency and security in their new IoE products. The universal nature of OpenWrt with enhanced security as a framework for new technology is designed to bring down the development cost to manufacturing brands and strengthen the security of platforms. It’s a win-win for business growth and consumer value.
Kathy Giori is senior product manager, Qualcomm Atheros Incorporated. As a member of prpl Foundation, Qualcomm Atheros supports the enhanced functionality and security of OpenWrt to improve industry and community collaboration.