Mastering the Art of DevOps for Embedded Systems: Establishing Edge-to-Cloud Feedback Loops

The benefits of iterative software development and DevSecOps practices are well known, but practical considerations have hampered adoption of these practices in projects involving embedded and intelligent edge systems.  Iterative development becomes very expensive when new cycles require manufacturing and coordinating deployment of physical hardware.

With hardware and connectivity advancing at a rapid pace, teams are increasingly able to squeeze more value out of deployed systems. Modern hardware is often ore capable than is strictly necessary for the application, and modular architectures and ubiquitous wireless networking provide ample opportunity for teams to leverage iterative practices. 

Modern embedded teams can establish feedback loops between edge devices and cloud systems. These loops feed information from the edge back to the development and operational teams, enabling real-time response in the form of device actions or field updates. By facilitating a continuous flow of information, these feedback loops offer numerous benefits, including increased development agility, optimized efficiency, reduced maintenance costs, and new revenue opportunities – all without an expensive hardware refresh cycle.

Improving Agility By Expanding Visibility to the Edge

One significant benefit that establishing feedback loops delivers is the opportunity to increase development agility. By understanding runtime conditions and how devices are used, organizations can gain visibility into the device and user experience. These insights enable more informed decisions regarding product enhancements, upgrades, or feature additions, with faster responses in the form of software updates to fielded devices. Understanding customer behavior not only helps businesses meet their customers' evolving needs but also assists in staying ahead of the competition.

For example, consider a smart car. By analyzing the data collected from edge devices on the vehicle, the cloud system can learn actual user preferences, patterns, and habits. Without real-time feedback loops, the product team would need to use slower and less accurate means to understand user needs such as surveys and market research, and product changes would take time to reach the user. Armed with real-time insights and feedback loops, teams can identify individual user needs in real time and deliver changes directly to the vehicle, providing an unparalleled level of convenience and personalization.

Optimizing Efficiency through Proactive Performance Identification

Feedback loops also enable organizations to optimize the efficiency of their systems by proactively identifying performance problems. Businesses can constantly monitor and analyze data from edge devices to detect anomalies or potential issues that affect productivity. This proactive approach ensures that devices are operating optimally, improving operational efficiency and productivity while reducing costs.

For instance, consider the value of continuous feedback loops for real-time monitoring of equipment in industries like manufacturing. Production lines run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with complex relationships between variables like line speed, warm-up and cool-down times, delivery logistics, etc. Even modest changes to these variables can result in large and unintuitive changes to the line output. Real-time feedback loops enable teams to not only understand how the line is operating, but to perform controlled experiments to optimize its operation.

Reducing Maintenance Costs through Anomaly Detection

Feedback loops also play a crucial role in reducing maintenance costs. By proactively identifying anomalies and potential problems, businesses can prevent costly disruptions, downtime, service visits and recalls. With real-time data monitoring, organizations can detect patterns that indicate imminent device failures or malfunctions to put devices into maintenance mode rather than deal with an unplanned failure.

In the automotive industry, feedback loops can monitor vehicle performance to identify potential issues before they result in breakdowns. Vendors can deploy an automated fix to the vehicle, avoiding the need to recall vehicles into a service center. They can also deliver timely notifications to end users recommending actions to address the problem. This type of proactive maintenance delivers real value by preventing costly downtime, enabling earlier repairs and lower overall maintenance costs, and ultimately improving customer satisfaction.

Unlocking New Revenue Opportunities

The establishment of feedback loops not only improves the efficiency and maintenance of intelligent edge systems but also creates new revenue opportunities. By gathering valuable data from edge devices, organizations can gain insights into customer behavior and preferences. This data can be analyzed and used to develop new products, services, or capabilities tailored to the identified needs and demands, unlocking revenue streams previously untapped. Organizations can deliver these new capabilities to users over the air, extending the service life of deployed devices.

As an example, warehouse robots can collect data on routes taken through the warehouse and interactions with other systems. By aggregating and analyzing this data in the cloud system, companies can offer automated route optimization and coordination of frequently interacting systems, thereby expanding their product offerings and generating additional revenue.

Achieving DevSecOps with Embedded Systems

Mastering the art of DevOps for embedded systems brings significant benefits to development teams. Establishing edge-to-cloud feedback loops helps organizations improve development agility, optimize efficiency, reduce maintenance costs, and unlock new revenue opportunities. By leveraging the continuous flow of information provided by these feedback loops, organizations can make data-driven decisions, enhance customer experiences, and stay ahead of the competition. As technology continues to evolve, integrating feedback loops between edge devices and cloud systems will become increasingly vital for businesses to thrive.

Wind River Studio Developer is a full-featured DevOps platform for intelligent edge development, purpose-built to solve the challenges that prevent embedded systems teams from adopting DevOps. Contact us today to learn how Wind River Studio.

This blog post is part of our series on mastering the art of DevOps for embedded systems. Other topics include: 



About the author

Jon Jarboe is a Senior Product Marketing Line Manager at Wind River