158 posts categorized "Linux & Open Source"

10/07/2014

How Significant is ARM’s mbed OS?

For microcontrollers (MCUs) used in embedded devices, intellectual property supplier ARM is the clear market leader. In a recent forecast for VDC Research’s report “The Global Market for Embedded Processors,” ARM-based MCUs accounted for more than half of the unit shipments using non-proprietary architectures in 2013 (see chart).

MCU Shipments by Architecture

The Cortex-M series is the main line of ARM MCUs, and is the most prevalent architecture used in embedded devices for the IoT. So when ARM announced on October 1 at the TechCon convention and trade show that the company would provide a free operating system—the mbed OS—for the M-series, it created considerable buzz in the industry, as well as some consternation and a bit of confusion.

ARM has been using the mbed name since 2005 for “maker”-style development platforms based on Cortex-M series MCUs, along with a large community of developers and an extensive software library. But the new announcement greatly expands the original mbed concept. The mbed name now encompasses not only the new operating system, but also: a cloud connectivity platform (mbed Device Server); a set of development tools (mbed Tools); and an ecosystem of partners (mbed Partners). Effectively, mbed has become a line of both products and services. ARM says that collectively, mbed will “accelerate Internet of Things deployment.” In this blog post, we’ll focus on the mbed operating system.

The embedded industry is already rife with many dozens of operating systems, ranging from bare bones to fully-featured. These include commercially-licensed binaries (closed source), commercially-licensed open source, free open source, as well as proprietary in-house OSs.

For resource-constrained embedded devices, the free open source offerings have been popular but limited in the extent of their development. Generally, commercially-licensed OSs are more professionally designed, thoroughly tested, and robust.

Several aspects of the mbed OS are noteworthy. First, ARM says that its free OS will be commercial grade. By offering it for free, the mbed OS will compete with some of the commercial embedded OSs already on the market. However, in his keynote speech at TechCon, ARM’s CTO Mike Muller emphasized that the mbed OS will not be a real time operating system (RTOS). Many IoT devices require the time-critical determinism of an RTOS, most notably in safety critical applications such as avionics, automotive systems, factory automation, and the like. The lack of real time functions will limit the breadth of applicability for mbed OS, and the extent to which it will compete with many of the commercial OSs on the market.

Second, ARM said its main intention of releasing the OS along with the mbed Device Server was to ease embedded software development to handle the many security concerns and communications protocols used in IoT, as those are often sticking points for developers not previously experienced with connected devices. Zach Shelby, Directory of Technical Marketing for the ARM’s IoT initiatives, noted that even devices running competing commercial OSs will be able to take advantage of mbed Device Server connectivity services. As Shelby described it, ARM isn’t trying to compete with OS vendors, the company is trying to ensure that IoT developers have adequate support to bring products to market in a timely manner.

Third, although ARM did not mention this in its press information Shelby told VDC that much of the mbed OS source code would be made available as open source. He also said that a few specific software components (such as some security modules) would be released only as binaries, i.e. closed source, which is why the company hasn’t been touting the OS as “open source.”

And fourth, ARM’s announcement only described the mbed OS as being for the M-series MCUs, but Shelby told us that partners will be able to adapt the open source code for ARM’s other series of processors. Indeed, at least one hardware vendor on the show floor was demonstrating a working version of the mbed OS on a Cortex A-series microprocessor. However, the higher performance A-series line is often used with more fully featured operating systems (e.g. Linux), and VDC doesn’t consider it to be a major target for the mbed OS.

All-in-all, VDC believes that the mbed OS will be significant for how it should speed up development for new entrants in the IoT. It probably won’t cause a major upheaval in the broad market for commercial embedded OSs, but a few of the OS vendors at the low end of the market are likely to be adversely impacted.

10/24/2013

Android to Transform Medical Device Market

In an increasingly mobile environment infused with continual technological innovation, OEMs are considering new platforms to develop embedded systems. While there are various platforms to choose from, Android has emerged as the foundation of many new embedded systems. It boasts natural advantages compared to other operating systems – iOS, Blackberry, and Windows to name a few – such as its robust open source user-interface, integrated connectivity, and royalty-free licensing, which can minimize cost and provide OEMs flexibility as they try to fit technology to specific industry needs.

Emerging tools in the medical space mark the potential innovation Android can bring to health care. New diagnostic methods and software systems in mHealth (mobile health) help medical care become more accessible to consumers. Android provides a flexible environment for developers and integrated connectivity between devices, making it a preferable tool in mHealth. Android-based applications can perform various functions, from simple tasks such as keeping track of medication schedules to more advanced measurement capabilities. Consumers can attach different add-ons to their Android devices and track vitals in real-time, from blood pressure and glucose level assessments to even ultrasound imaging.

OEMs can further streamline healthcare by creating embedded systems that perform multiple functions. Rather than switch between individual add-ons to test blood pressure and glucose level, doctors would be able to use a single device and even track results that can be shared to all of the user’s Android devices. Android systems provide great user interfaces and connectivity, two key parameters OEMs are considering in developing new medical devices. Although smartphones and tablets comprise of most of the current Android market share, medical devices exhibit the highest predicted growth at 71.7% annually.

While medical devices are a prime use-case for Android, the market is still in its infancy. OEMs remain reluctant to redesign systems to run Android (or any new OS) as it often requires considerable customization. Decisions by Google and other key market participants will also hold an influence and shape the growth of Android as a software solution.

Beyond the medical space, Android OS is expanding into other markets such as connected car systems and situational awareness systems. To better understand more specific drivers of Android adoption in the medical space and others, please read through the report's executive brief. The full report, Android in the Embedded Systems Market, discusses global market trends, device class forecasts, and important insights about ecosystem participants and end-users.

by Howard Wei

06/26/2013

Controlling In-Vehicle Innovation with IVI Design

Automotive differentiation is no longer driven by gears and grease. Electronic systems now control most aspects of a vehicle’s operation and the software within those systems has risen to account for an increasing share of their functionality and differentiation. Today, software content growth in the automotive industry continues to outpace most other embedded device classes. In no automotive sector is this trend more acute than in IVI.

Ivi ibm

The culture of conservatism, rooted in automotive’s safety-critical requirements, that has traditionally characterized the domain must adapt. The recent financial crisis imposed an unparalleled catalyst for such change. Entire supply chains followed the OEM leads into bankruptcy. The remaining engineering organizations, many of which lacked the level of development resources they had prior to the financial crisis, are being forced to reevaluate their incumbent development processes and tools in an effort to keep pace with the unabated growth in consumer expectations. In many cases, OEMs must be prepared to adopt new software development solutions to adequately address the complexities of UI design and consumer device integration.

VDC will be conducting a live webcast with IBM and Jaguar Land Rover on June 27th to discuss this emerging trend. Attendees will learn:

  • How open source technologies will impact tomorrow's automotive ecosystem
  • Why OEMs need to revisit their supply-chain strategies to promote new levels of collaboration  and innovation
  • What new development solutions should be considered to adapt

When: June 27th, 11:00am ET / 2:00pm PT

Register: http://bit.ly/136NjqJ

03/29/2013

ALM Connect Executive Day and EclipseCon, March 2013

ALM CONNECT EXECUTIVE DAY

VDC was excited to attend the ALM Connect Executive Day, which was run in parallel to EclipseCon 2013 in Boston this week. The objective of the executive day, to provide a platform for software delivery executives to discuss modern ALM practices in the context of business problems, is tightly aligned to our Software & System Lifecycle Management Tools research.

The day brought together leaders from ALM suppliers, ISVs and consulting firms to discuss how ALM is evolving in response to the changing software delivery environment. The M2M Embedded Software team investigates many of the same questions ALM Connect aimed to answer such as:

  • How does ALM work in the world shifting from 'Systems of Record' to systems of engagement?
  • How does SaaS, Mobile and open source change ALM?
  • What does Agile mean to ALM?
  • What does complex sourcing do to ALM?

Among the ALM Connect Executive Day highlights:

 “What ALM knowledge you can expect from Computer Science Graduates” with Gary Pollice, Professor of Practice, WPI Computer Science Department. A great description about what you should look for in a recent computer science graduate and, more importantly, why.

“Managing Complex Supply Chains with ALM” with Mik Kersten, CEO, Tasktop. Mik demonstrated how Tasktop is helping large corporations work through the mess they’ve made of their development lifecycle through piecemeal tool adoption at team levels, corporate expansion, mergers and other realities of business as usual.

 “Scrum - Success Ends with Middle Management” with Ken Schwaber, the Co-creator of Scrum and CEO of Scrum.org. Ken stressed the importance of individuals and interactions over processes and tools as organizations look to create more agility. Also presented was the “Agility Index”, a means to track progress towards of process improvement goals.

“Future of ALM Panel” with Sam Guckenheimer, MS Visual Studio; Jeffery Hammond, Forrester Research; Raziel Tabib, HP; Mik Kersten, Tasktop; Mike O'Rourke, IBM Rational. The panel gave us a lively discussion on a number of topics including developer resistance to change, estimates on the enterprise ALM market size, and ongoing heterogeneity and integration challenges of ALM.

More information on ALM Connect Executive Day can be found here.

 

ECLIPSECON BOSTON 2013

We also made time to visit some booths and sit in on a few presentations of EclipseCon.

The focus of the open source Eclipse community is software development tools as well as the intersection of tools, process, and new business models. As more and more organizations view their ability to manufacture software as a competitive advantage, ALM is becoming a vital business process.

Among the EclipseCon highlights:

CollabNet’s Laszlo Szalvay presentation, "Making Agile ALM Work in Regulated Industries”:  The discussion focused on some of the uncertainty towards Agile that remains in highly regulated industries such as Finance, Telecommunications, Pharmaceuticals and Government. VDC sees the same concerns about control and increased developer autonomy in the embedded industry. Likewise, we share the opinion that Agile can succeed in these industries with the use of the right processes and tools.

The session entitled, “High Quality Agile - Incorporating Quality into Your Agile Process and Organization Means Working Faster and Smarter,” by Lorinda Brandon of SmartBear Software. Lorinda outlined some best practices for maintaining high quality as an organization moves towards a continuous software delivery business model.

More information on EclipseCon 2013 Boston can be found here.

 

About VDC Research Group                                       

VDC Research Group (VDC) provides market research and advisory services to the world's top technology executives. Our clients rely on us to provide actionable insights to support their most important strategic decisions. The firm is organized around four practices, each with its own focused area of coverage including: automatic identification and data collection, embedded hardware, embedded software and enterprise mobility.

Our market research is the basis for the many ways that VDC can help our clients to grow their business. We offer a range of services designed to meet their specific corporate development, opportunity assessment and lead generation needs. Founded in 1971, the firm is located in the Boston area. Please visit our Web site at www.vdcresearch.com to learn more.

VDC has been providing embedded systems market intelligence for over 20 years.

03/18/2013

VDC to Present Embeddy Awards Live at Design West

Want to see the latest technologies and tricks for embedded engineering? Head to Design West next month in San Jose, CA!

Contact us ASAP to schedule a meeting

VDC will be attending the Design West/ESC conference from Tuesday April 23 through Thursday April 25.

At the show, we will be presenting our 9th annual Embeddy Awards. The winners will be announced Live during Thursday's morning keynote session.

So how can your company win the Embeddy award?

To be considered,

First, fill out this on-line form: http://svy.mk/WU0abA

You must also schedule a meeting with VDC to discuss the announcement that you are making at the show. You can arrange a meeting time with VDC by doing one of the following:

For Software and Tools related meetings

Contact Jared Weiner, Analyst, M2M Embedded Software & Tools at:
jweiner@vdcresearch.com or 508.653.9000 x143.

For Hardware related meetings

Contact David Laing, Senior Analyst, M2M Embedded Hardware Platforms at:
dlaing@vdcresearch.com or 508.653.9000 x146.

Haven't decided if you're attending DESIGN West yet?

Please check out the DESIGN West website for more information on the conference program as well as
information on all of the companies that will be exhibiting. You can also click here to register.

We look forward to seeing you at the show!

01/22/2013

Can Ubuntu Make a Splash in Mobile?

The start of the new year kicked off with an announcement that another open source mobile operating system will be coming to market… but this one is truly unique. The provider of one of the most popular Linux-based desktop operating systems, Canonical, recently announced a distinctive smartphone interface for its Ubuntu operating system. Aside from Android, open source platforms have had a checkered history with limited success in the smartphone environment (e.g. Openmoko, LiMo, MeeGo, webOS). Ubuntu faces much uncertainty with many challenges ahead, but its unique positioning and appeal could help it shine in an increasingly competitive and crowded market.

One of the primary goals of Canonical is to provide a unified family of interfaces for phone, PC and television devices utilizing the Ubuntu OS. Best-suited for high-end multicore “superphones,” the Ubuntu phone OS delivers a rich graphical touch interface with a full PC experience when docked with a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Canonical is also providing a free variant of Ubuntu designed to run on Android phones to immediately enter the mobile market. The OS will support web-based HTML5 and native applications.

Ubuntu has a lot of things going for it that past open source OSs did not. First and foremost, Canonical has been very successful in growing Ubuntu’s presence in enterprise desktops and server platforms across the world since its launch in 2004. The company amassed plenty of experience hosting cloud-based services and app stores, a major obstacle for new entrants to the mobile space, and developed a global market presence through leveraging partnerships with leading PC OEMs including ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo. Additionally, application support will be bolstered by Ubuntu’s considerable following of desktop developers and a Webkit made available by Canonical to help migrate applications from the desktop platform.

Though no open source platforms have been able to measure up to Android’s success in the smartphone arena, many network operators and OEMs would like to have an alternate available. They have recognized that the growing duopoly between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android in the market could stifle innovation and give them too much power over industry participants and users themselves. Furthermore, an alternative operating system, like Ubuntu, could help carriers and manufacturers gain a more substantive relationship with smartphone buyers by adding their own branded offerings.

However, Ubuntu faces numerous obstacles in its quest to make a splash in the smartphone OS market. The two biggest concerns, intensely growing competition and a lack of handset provider support, permeate throughout market for mobile operating system providers. The market already accommodates two huge platforms (Android and iOS) and two others with aspirations of greatness (Windows Phone and Blackberry), and that’s just at the top. By the time the first Ubuntu-based handset comes to market at the end of 2013 (earliest), the next versions of Android and iOS will have been deployed, Blackberry 10 will have finally arrived and Microsoft will be soon-updating its own mobile software. Also, Canonical has yet to disclose any commitments by operators or handset manufacturers to support the Ubuntu operating system and few big-name “superphone” OEMs are likely to be willing to risk a high-profile launch with an unproven mobile OS.

A lot will change the landscape in the meantime leading up to Ubuntu’s eventual mobile debut. The OS contains some very innovative and inspiring design ideas, and Canonical boasts unique core strengths that make their operating system truly different from any other open source OS that has crossed the mobile environment. The new OS will have the opportunity to be a significant player in emerging markets, as well as with people already committed to open source. Though more competition would force the pace of innovation to increase, Google and Apple will be heart-pressed to relinquish any market share and will continue to add to and enhance their own platforms in a bid to stay relevant. Demand for an Ubuntu-like platform exists; it’s just a matter of getting past the crowd at the door.

12/31/2012

Don’t Forget to Lock Your Windows

Security is one of the most buzzworthy and sensationalized topics in the embedded market in recent memory. Even 60 minutes has devoted time to the topic. Although device security may not have been at top of Andy Rooney’s interest list, the threat is real.

In the same way that the devices across all facets of our lives have become more intelligent and more connected, they have simultaneously come under a sort of evolutionary entrapment. Their increased functionality has made them both more valuable and more attractive targets of attack. And this dynamic extends from everything from mobile phones to medical devices.

So why then do engineers not extend the same consideration of security across of all these device classes?

Certainly, there are some device classes more inherently at risk than others. In fact, many of the OEMs building these devices already use a range of operating systems specifically designed (or at least marketed) as addressing security, such as Green Hills Integrity, Lynuxworks LynxOS, or Wind River VxWorks. It is time that other OEMs pay attention too. Security is important

Or are they already?

Approximately 2/3 of the engineers we surveyed said that security was important to their current design. The ratio varied little based on the target OS cited as used on the engineers’ current projects. The acknowledgement of security’s importance appears ubiquitous.

A few weeks ago, I was attending the Amphion Forum in San Francisco, a conference hosted by Mocana that focused on device security. At the conference, neither engineers nor vendors made much mention of one of the leading OS vendors in the embedded market, Microsoft.Secure-Windows

While Microsoft’s PC heritage may not lend a reputation of security staunchness, its embedded SKUs do offer augmented protection over many alternatives. Furthermore, Windows Embedded’s use within many of the more intelligent, connected devices means that engineers using the OS family should absolutely place a premium on security. So what gives?

  1. In many cases, engineers – especially those not working in safety-critical device classes – are not conditioned to care about security. But investment and attention often follow catastrophe.
  2. Some engineers also take security for granted, thinking that the use of a commercial OS yields hardened end products. Although commercial OSs can help, their increasing adoption makes them a more compelling target for potential hacking or attack.
  3. Microsoft needs to ante up. Some of the disconnect is due to marketing, but the rest of it is because of products. Operating systems will never solve the entire problem; Microsoft and its customers will benefit from a broader security-focused portfolio.

2013 will bring even greater security risk. It is time for OEMs and vendors alike to step it up.

 

12/28/2012

Software Takes the Wheel

While embedded software and connectivity proves to be a massive challenge for automotive manufacturers, it also plays an increasingly vital role in providing a safer, more fuel-efficient, and differentiated user driving experience. Automakers are working closely with software developers and solutions providers to expand and improve upon both under-the-hood and in-vehicle applications. Consumer digitization has hit the automobile, and automotive OEMs must look forward with software in mind.

Embedded software continues to enhance the safety and performance of modern vehicles. The steady, widespread adoption of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), each of which controlled by complex real-time embedded systems, bestows consumers such safety functions as adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, emergency brake assist and more. Also, coinciding with the rapid adoption of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and their inherent increased amount of electronic components, software is steadily becoming a more critical  way to achieve higher fuel economy, lower emissions, and improved performance through powertrain optimization and intelligent engine management. Environmental regulations and volatile oil prices will continue to drive the use of software algorithms in engine control.

In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) systems are redefining the driving experience and simultaneously providing a new landscape for OEM differentiation. A number of automotive manufacturers, including Ford, GM, Toyota, and Nissan, have deployed IVI systems in mid- to high- grade models to capitalize on this rising trend. Automobile Magazine’s ‘2012 Car of the Year’ winner, the Tesla Model S, features a 17-inch touchscreen running a Linux-based OS that integrates navigation, communications, cabin controls and vehicle data while providing Wi-Fi or mobile connectivity. IVI systems today may include such functions as GPS/navigation, mobile phone integration, climate control, social networking, DVD playback and more.

VDC investigated the growing value and rate of change of software in automotive technology in our recently published Automotive/Rail/Transportation report from our research service, Strategic Insights 2012: Embedded Software & Tools Market.

Please contact us for more information.

12/24/2012

VDC’s Top 12 of 2012 – Part 1

The end of the year is always a great time for reflection, for thinking about everything that happened throughout the year and what it all means. It is also a great time for making lists; Christmas lists, New Year’s resolutions, and Best Ofs. I won’t get into my New Year’s resolutions here, but I will take a few moments to highlight (and rank, just for fun) the most significant embedded software announcements of the past year.

So, without further ado, here is our take on the best of 2012!

 

12. GrammaTech introduces architecture visualization system for CodeSonar (March 27th)

This system is designed to optimize the visual inspection and analysis of software through a sophisticated new interface for viewing the relationships between software program elements. Built to handle very large code bases, we believe this product represents a unique solution that has the ability to materially impact the way developers test and analyze their source code. CodeSonar visualization runs through a browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome.

11. LDRA forms LDRA Certification Services (March 26th)

Attaining safety-critical certifications has long been a time-consuming and laborious task for embedded developers. In response to this challenge, LDRA formed a separate division of the company (staffed by credentialed industry experts) dedicated to facilitating the certification process for various FAA/EASA regulations. LDRA addresses the following standards: Aircraft & Systems Development (ARP-4754A), Safety Assessment (ARP-4761), Integrated Modular Avionics (DO-297), Flight Electronic Hardware (DO-254), Flight Software (DO-178B/C), and Ground Systems (DO-278/A).

10. Enea joins the embedded Linux party (March 27th)

This was a bit of an about-face for Enea, which had previously supported embedded Linux development through its services arm and reseller agreements with Linux vendors such as TimeSys. Enea Linux – which is intended to target next-generation networking infrastructure equipment – is a Yocto-based distribution available with customized services and support. This came on the heels of the release of another new commercial distribution, Mentor Embedded Linux (Mentor Graphics). The question for both Enea and Mentor, of course, is whether or not “late to the party” is good enough.

8 and 9. Siemens and PTC expand their lifecycle management coverage through acquisitions (Siemens/LMS International: November 8th, PTC/Servigistics: August 8th)

The complexity of today’s projects is increasing the dependence of each engineering discipline on the functionality of the other disciplines. The lines between software, electrical, and mechanical engineering have started to blur, necessitating a higher frequency of communication and coordination between these once separate groups. These acquisitions are further evidence that the concept of developing a cross-domain approach to providing solutions to this market has been one of the main overarching themes of 2012.

Siemens’ acquisition of LMS International will allow the company to extend their systems driven product development support through integrated test management, while Servigistics’ presence in PTC’s portfolio will enable PTC to better help its customers service their products under development.

7. General Dynamics acquires OK Labs (September 11th)

According to GD, OK Labs will deploy its OKL4 Microvisor in secure mobile devices (for civilian, government, and military use) and automotive in-vehicle infotainment systems as part of the GD Broadband business unit – presumably within both internal and commercial opportunities. But will commercial opportunities actually be there? For years, suppliers of mobile hypervisors have struggled to effectively communicate the value proposition of their solutions. As a result, revenues never really scaled and leading vendors struggled to realize significant growth. In the case of OK Labs, this ultimately resulted in acquisition. Given the historical difficulties in monetizing mobile virtualization, we believe it may be only a matter of time before GD completely internalizes the use of OKL4 technology.

Part 2 on Wednesday!

Come back on Wednesday for the second half of this list, including our pick for the top announcement of the year!

12/14/2012

The Embedded Software Beat

A Q&A with Jacques Brygier, VP of Marketing, SYSGO

This interview is the fifth in a series that we have conducted with embedded software solution providers to share their views on their company, products, and state of the market.

VDC: SYSGO has been in the embedded software business for over 20 years; can you briefly introduce the company to our readers?

LogoBrygier: SYSGO has been providing software solutions for the embedded market since its foundation in 1991. The company, headquartered in Mainz, Germany, has developed skills and expertise over the years into two areas, actually very complementary: industrial embedded Linux and safety and security certified RTOS. SYSGO has been quite innovative in addressing the needs of the applications requiring the highest levels of safety and security: the company was the first to introduce to the market a certified embedded virtualization solution that is both a full RTOS and a type 1 hypervisor. SYSGO is primarily addressing the A&D, industrial, transportation, medical and automotive markets, but the combination of Linux/Android, safety and security functionality of its offering attracts new customers in industry sectors like smart energy, high range mobile and even consumers.

VDC: SYSGO recently announced it was acquired by Thales. What does this mean for SYSGO and its customers?

Brygier: This is great news for SYSGO! SYSGO remains the same with just more financial backup to move forward. The company keeps its identity, management team, full staff, and offices. It is Thales’ willingness to let SYSGO decide its own growth strategy, including the choice of market segments Thales is not involved with. We of course have to remain the technology innovator we are in the key sectors of A&D, transportation, and security, in order to provide to Thales (and others) the best-of-breed products they need to be successful. But we are free to continue to address the other markets such as automotive, medical, industrial, or even consumers when it makes sense. Thales’ investment is based on the long term. The requirements they have in terms of product features for their own benefits were part of our roadmap anyway: we just have more means to speed up their implementation.

VDC: What are the challenges engineers face today in designing and developing embedded devices and how are embedded software suppliers responding?

Brygier: More than ever, the embedded systems developers have to manage a tremendous increase of functionality requirements but keep a high level of quality at reasonable cost! New software environments like Linux, Java or Android give access to a wide range of graphics, peripherals, and networking capabilities. However, even as the hardware platforms become more and more powerful (thanks to a growing usage of SoCs, multi-core, specialized built-in devices, etc.), the usual requirement for performance is now combined with a growing need for more safety and, maybe more importantly for most of the markets, security. To say it differently, engineers need new ways of implementing software. That’s probably the reason why we see a growing interest in our safe and secure virtualization RTOS: having the ability on the same hardware (I mean processor) to mix real-time and non-real-time, critical and non-critical applications, legacy and brand new code is very attractive!

VDC: SYSGO’s flagship product, PikeOS, is a combination of an RTOS and virtualization platform; Can you explain the concept of PikeOS, and tell our readers what sets this platform apart from the competition?

Brygier: In the early 2000s, SYSGO decided to develop its own operating system approach based on the embedded virtualization concept. After having evaluated different approaches, SYSGO realized that the existing concepts couldn’t support the highest levels of safety and security requirements SYSGO’s customers were asking for. The result of this internal development is the PikeOS microkernel, which today is part of SYSGO’s product portfolio. The target markets are A&D, industrial automation, automotive, transportation, medical, smart energy, part of consumer electronics and all sectors requiring a high level of security. PikeOS enables multiple operating system interfaces to work on separate sets of resources within a single machine. Because of the resource separation enforced by the PikeOS microkernel, multiple applications with different safety and security requirements are able to co-exist in a single machine. Thus, PikeOS can be regarded as a MILS separation kernel as well as a hypervisor. Currently, PikeOS can host about ten different operating system APIs. Among them are ARINC-653, POSIX, certified POSIX, AUTOSAR, different Java virtual machines, Ada and several popular RTOSes such as Linux (SYSGO’s ELinOS is a natural choice), Android, RTEMS or iTRON. PikeOS is certifiable to safety standards like DO-178B/C, IEC 61508, EN 50128, or ISO 26262, and is currently involved in various security standard CC EAL certification projects.

What makes PikeOS different, besides the fact it has no legacy baggage (making it easy to use), is that it is a) truly processor agnostic, supporting a very wide range of processors and not relying on any specific hardware feature but able to use it if needed (I’m thinking about the use of hardware virtualization to manage multicore, for example), b) built on a single set of core components (no derived version or specific flavor depending on the nature of the application such as non certified or certified, safety oriented or security oriented, cost sensitive, resources constrained or large and complex systems), c) offering the widest range of Personalities of the market (12), and d) the first “hypervisor” certified DO-178B, IEC61508 and EN50128!

VDC: You recently released the latest version of your industrial grade Linux platform, ELinOS; How would you describe the state of the embedded Linux market today?

Brygier: We see an increasing demand for Linux functionality in almost all markets. There is a low but steady rate of growth. Our focus is industrial Linux, a distribution that minimizes the side effect of open source software (potential issues of liability, lack of control, roadmap visibility, documentation, etc…) and offers a ready to use, qualified and well-packaged solution. I don’t know if this gives you an idea of the Linux market but I can tell you that almost half of our PikeOS users are using the Linux Personality. Our understanding is that we cannot make Linux safe and secure but thanks to PikeOS we can make its usage in a system safe and secure.

VDC: SYSGO also provides support for safety & security certifications, two areas that have begun to converge in recent years; what is the relationship between safety and security, and what are some of the challenges engineers face as they pursue these certifications?

Brygier: In terms of objectives, safety is quite different from security: one aims at removing any bugs while the other one tries to prevent any hostile attack. But they share in common the fact that they are required in a growing number of systems, increasingly in a jointly manner. There are some features/attributes PikeOS offers that apply to both areas: strict partitioning, controlled communications, availability of system resources, etc. If you combine the rigorous development process of DO-178B Level A and the formal verification of the microkernel, you tend to have a pretty good piece of software. But, even if they share some aspects of the evidence to be provided to comply with their respective standards, the certification process is quite different in spirit and in ways to assess the compliancy. For safety certification, engineers have a set of guidelines that are now quite familiar and easier to handle when you have some experience. A security certification requires first identifying your assets, the threats you envision and the adverse actions the threats can use to harm your assets. In a sense, the objectives must be very specific. The way for the accredited lab to challenge your equipment depends of course on your security objectives but is mostly not known by you. This explains why the timeline of a high level of security validation is usually more difficult to estimate.

VDC: Thank you, Jacques.

Interested in participating in VDC’s “The Embedded Software Beat” series of interviews? Please reach out and let us know.

BrygierJacques Brygier has spent more than 20 years in the business of high technology and computer science where he has acquired a deep knowledge of the software industry, its evolution and its main application fields. He has been more specifically involved in the development of mission-critical and safety critical software solutions. His primary focus has been embedded and real-time applications. Jacques obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science in University of Lille, France and then joined Alsys to work on Ada compilers and produce the first Ada products available on the market. After working in different technical positions, he obtained his degree in International Marketing and Business in Minneapolis, USA. As the Marketing Director for Aonix, Jacques spent 5 years in San Diego, USA, developing and promoting software development tools before returning to France where he took the position of VP Sales for 3 years. He then became VP Marketing with worldwide responsibility for product strategy, product management and marketing communication. Jacques joined SYSGO in February 2007 to initiate and lead Product Management and Strategy. As VP Marketing he is in charge of all global marketing activities. His main task is to develop the SYSGO portfolio that includes the safe and secure virtualization RTOS platform PikeOS and the Industrial Grade Embedded Linux ELinOS.