Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Start-up Foundries.io launches platforms to secure IoT

Steve Rogerson
August 23, 2018

Emerging from two years in stealth mode, Foundries.io has announced what it claims is the world's first commercially available, continuously updated Linux and Zephyr MicroPlatform distributions for the embedded, IoT, edge and automotive markets.
 
Supported by a newly announced partner programme, these MicroPlatforms let devices from light bulbs to connected cars always be secure and updated to the latest available firmware, operating system and applications.
 
MicroPlatforms are designed to mitigate and reverse the fragmentation across the IoT, leading to a secure, interconnected global network. Without the ability to update to the most current software, networked devices face risks of failure and of cyber attacks.
 
The minimal, secure, over-the-air (OTA) updatable software platforms include firmware, kernel, services and applications, delivered continuously from initial product design to end of life. Benefits include faster time to market for products across a wide range of IoT connected devices, built-in support for software and hardware security, updates for security fixes and new features, and lower product development and lifetime support costs.
 
"Over the past two years, we have used open source software to build a unifying, open, secure, continuously updated product platform for the fragmented IoT and embedded markets," said George Grey, CEO of UK-based Foundries.io. "We started Foundries.io to fundamentally change the industry. Today's connected devices require modern software and secure update techniques. Rather than legacy software builds being maintained for product lifetimes that can reach ten years or more, the MicroPlatforms are built from the ground up to enable product manufacturers to always and immediately deploy the latest security updates, bug fixes and new features to their customers, ensuring the safety of the internet of things and the security of data throughout the network."
 
The platforms have been developed using enterprise software development practices, coupled with end-to-end, sensor-to-cloud, continuous integration testing on every code change, ensuring consistent product quality for connected devices in markets including smart sensor, industrial, consumer and automotive products.
 
Product lifetime maintenance for security updates, bug fixes and new features – from firmware to the end application – is built into the products, meaning device makers no longer need to create and support a custom software build for every product. The Foundries.io business model is subscription-based and does not include per unit fees, meaning device makers are not penalised by the success of their products.
 
The Linux MicroPlatform includes updatable firmware, kernel and a minimal distribution built using Open Embedded/Yocto, running user-specific services and applications natively or in containers. This enables remote management of the product software from private or public cloud device management platforms on edge devices, using standard enterprise tools such as Ansible and Kubernetes.
 
The Zephyr MicroPlatform is the first downstream distribution for the Zephyr Project, and uses the Zephyr RTOS, MCU boot software, services and reference applications to provide a continuously tested, secure, updatable, cross-architecture for microcontroller-based products.
 
Applications include upgradable smart devices for industry and home gateways and edge computing devices reconfigurable OTA for newly attached hardware and/or services, and securely updatable software platforms for the automotive, robot and drone industries.
 
Cross-architecture Linux MicroPlatform builds support Arm, Intel and Risc-V. Popular development board support includes: Toradex Colibri i.MX7 SoM; Raspberry Pi 3 using 64bit Linux and supporting Docker containers; Qualcomm DragonBoard 410C and 820C; TI BeagleBone Black Wireless; Intel NUC 7; and SiFive Unleashed.
 
Zephyr RTOS MicroPlatform builds are also available now, supporting hardware listed by the Zephyr Project, including products from Nordic Semiconductor, NXP and ST Microelectronics.
 
Foundries.io has established a partner programme to enable SoC, MCU and SoM vendors, distributors, cloud and device management providers, service providers and others to work with and support the MicroPlatform distribution ecosystem.
 
Toradex and Linaro are launch partners. Toradex is using the Linux MicroPlatform as a secure and updateable base for its upcoming software offering, simplifying the use of its products and allowing users to focus on their applications. Toradex is a system on module (SoM) vendor providing Arm based SoM products to a wide range of industrial and medical customers.
 
"We are pleased to partner with Foundries.io who is offering a secure, updatable, OE/Yocto Project based on the latest Linux technologies," said Toradex CTO Roman Schnarwiler. “The Foundries.io Linux MicroPlatform aligns well with Toradex's commitment to stable and secure products, which allow customers a smooth development phase and a very short time to market. We expect to extend the support for the LmP to a wide range of our systems on module. Toradex will be announcing exciting news about our upcoming software offerings for our SoMs, based on the Foundries.io Linux MicroPlatrorm soon.”
 
Linaro is using the platforms to provide software for the 96Boards open hardware ecosystem. Linaro is the company leading collaboration on open source projects in the Arm ecosystem.
 
"Linaro welcomes Foundries.io as an upstream-aligned resource for the 96boards ecosystem," said Yang Zhang, director of the Linaro 96Boards open hardware initiative. “The combination of 96Boards hardware and Foundries.io MicroPlatforms provides a complete reference for product development and delivery for IoT, edge and enterprise products.”
 
Vitalacy is a company delivering hygiene compliance for hospitals and healthcare facilities. The Vitalacy service uses washroom sensors, bracelets, gateways and cloud services which combine to show aggregated and individual hand-washing compliance over time.
 
"We expect that the MicroPlatforms for our sensor and gateway products will significantly reduce time to market, increase data security, reduce TCO of our products, and enable us to deliver security updates and new customer features over the air," said Vitalacy CEO Bahram Amid-Nour. “By working with Foundries.io, we are not only benefiting from an innovative, secure product platform, but our customers will benefit from knowing that we are able to deliver the latest security updates and new features through the product lifetime.”
 
Kate Stewart, senior director of strategic programmes at the Linux Foundation, added: "Foundries.io has been the leader in making Zephyr available as a continuously updated MicroPlatform distribution. In the embedded and IoT markets, being able to deploy security fixes efficiently and effectively is key, and the Zephyr ecosystem is much stronger with this capability available and commercially supported."