IoT development platform

Conundrum Solver

Additional Functions

Up to this point, my main focus has been on the Foundries stack (i.e., the distribution for embedded systems that forms the core of the portfolio). However, the provider's service is not limited merely to offering a ready-for-use image of this distribution. Instead, Foundries Factory presents itself as a full-blown development environment that can be used to produce versions of the embedded distribution that are highly adapted to individual devices.

The first step for companies that want to use Foundries Factory is therefore likely to be creating an account on the provider's website. Doing so creates an entire development environment in which the Foundries stack is already present as a core component. Of course, none of this just falls into place accidentally. The Foundries developers primarily rely on Yocto [2]; in turn, Yocto dynamically generates a development environment for embedded devices on the basis of the OpenEmbedded project.

In this environment, companies then have the ability to customize the vendor's generic embedded distribution to suit the IoT device of their dreams. Foundries Factory delivers bootable images at the push of a button, and the images can be forwarded to a company's hardware manufacturer, who can then install the software directly on the devices. The vendor supports developers with, for example, native Git integration in Foundries Factory or by providing a complete continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) build chain.

Once the devices reach the customer's data center or living room, Foundries Factory offers comprehensive fleet management (Figure 4), which is more or less the server side of the OTA update process: When the vendor of a device provides an updated image for a single component of the system from Foundries Factory, the target systems download it gradually while the Internet connection is up and running.

Figure 4: Foundries Factory offers comprehensive fleet management. Embedding a corresponding function in your firmware means you can ensure that remote devices automatically register with Factory as soon as they have an Internet connection. ©

If you want to sell your customers remote maintenance and management in addition to IoT devices, Foundries Factory again has all the necessary components. Management capabilities are an essential part of the offering, precisely because they efficiently enable long-term management of delivered devices (Figure 5).

Figure 5: OTA updates are essential for IoT devices. The Foundries stack provides the ability to replace components with a newer version at any level of its architecture. ©

Not Cheap, But Inexpensive

The pricing model differs from the usual approach to such solutions in one important respect: charges flat rates and does not seek to make money on every supported device. There is also no such thing as a complete product structure with different editions.

Instead, you have exactly one option – the Enterprise Factory package, which costs $5,000 per month or $50,000 per year and includes all the described functions for an unlimited number of devices and unlimited numbers of builds in the Foundries Factory CI/CD environment. Of course, this also means that the more devices a provider sells with this software, the more sense it makes to use the solution.


Foundries Factory proves that IoT devices do not have to become obsolete shortly after delivery and therefore do not have to pose a security risk. In particular, the product is aimed at companies that want to open up IoT options for their devices virtually from scratch, without having to develop a basic system themselves. provides a complete toolbox from which suitable applications can be easily assembled. In addition to a full-blown development environment, it contains a ready-made mini-distribution based on the Linux kernel with a runtime environment for Docker containers. These tools can significantly reduce a manufacturer's time to market for an IoT device. Commercial use of Foundries Factory should be well worth their while in most cases.

Technically, the solution is cutting edge. Extensive support for a large number of security functions is just as useful as the cleverly thought-out update process, which allows all the components of an entire fleet of IoT devices to be replaced individually. Against this background, the manufacturer's prices might not look cheap, but they are inexpensive in relation to performance, especially when you consider that, unlike other manufacturers, offers fixed prices and does not look to earn money on every unit of a device that is sold.

Anyone who needs a powerful environment for developing and running IoT applications definitely needs to check out Happily, it is quite simple to try Foundries out: The test account is available free online, and because Foundries Factory offers support for a variety of SoC boards with an ARM or Intel CPU, a single Raspberry Pi is all you need to test the deployment on hardware.

The Author

Freelance journalist Martin Gerhard Loschwitz focuses primarily on topics such as OpenStack, Kubernetes, and Chef.

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