The release of a set of cloud-oriented software packages by Wind River sees the Intel subsidiary attempt to change its business model to collect money from cloud services rather than focus on selling licences for embedded devices.
Dinyar Dastoor, general manager of Wind River’s operating systems division, said the company will deliver some of its platforms to device manufacturers and integrators for free and collect revenue from the services the company deploys to support their interaction with the internet and the cloud. “Ultimately, Wind River wants the monetisation to be on the cloud side,” he said.
He said, because of the rise of the IoT, the customer base for embedded operating system software will expand to integrators who today work primarily on business services.
“We see a growing market segment of integrators like the Accentures of this world as well as end users who want to put custom applications on top of the embedded devices they buy,” said Dastoor. “They don’t have time to develop systems from scratch: the devices they use need to be off-the-shelf platforms. We can abstract the complications of the device.”
Dastoor said the need to upgrade devices over time will help support the move to the new business model. “Over the life cycle, you will need infrastructure that is able to change.”
To reduce the integration time on embedded processors, Wind River is working with a number of microcontroller vendors in addition to parent Intel and board-level platform designers, including open-source communities such as BeagleBoard, to have binary distributions ready to run.
For devices, Wind River has developed Rocket, which is a stripped-down kernel aimed at MCUs with a basic footprint of around 4KB. This is expected to work with gateway devices running a distribution of Linux customised by the company to run ‘containerised’ applications. The container approach is meant to offer a halfway house between full virtualisation and OS-level process separation that isolates services provided by different companies from each other. The approach is broadly similar to that provided by the ARINC architecture in which services running on computer have isolated areas of memory, disk and time slices.
Dastoor said the ‘microservices’ provided by these containerised applications “will be very important to the deployment of IoT systems”. The company’s hope is that by providing an operating system platform that’s widely used it can build an ecosystem of readymade applications from third parties.
Wind River aims to provide three cloud services. One is to host the development tools, one that provides the ability to simulate networks of devices using its Simics software for testing, and one will be the cloud service to coordinate deployed systems.
“We have three models. One is a software as a service model that we run on the Amazon cloud,” Dastoor said.
A second model provides the Wind River cloud software packaged into a virtual machine that can run on a customer’s preferred host or internal cloud, with a third model providing an appliance that designed to provide the services to smaller companies that do not want to manage a full cloud environment but want the control of running the applications within their own network.