According to Global Market Insights, the size of embedded software market surpassed $13.5B in 2020 and is projected to grow at 7% CAGR from 2021 to 2027. Increased demand for automotive solutions and solutions for wearable devices is among the top factors that contribute to this growth.
However, there are also factors that prevent the embedded market from growing even further. The talent shortage in the US and the UK is one of the bottlenecks. As a result, more businesses consider embedded software development.
How to get maximum value from embedded software development? How to overcome the main challenges of embedded systems development? Learn in this article.
Let’s start with the challenges that companies often face when developing embedded software on-site.
Challenges of embedded software development
1. Lack of talent
The talent pool of professionals skilled in embedded system development is relatively small. The number of available professionals is simply not enough to satisfy the ever-growing demand. As a result, there are over 10,000 unfilled positions in the US market alone.
So, many companies go for outsourcing of embedded software development and look for talent overseas.
2. Rapid market changes
Not so long ago, technologies used for embedded systems development changed slightly and rarely. At some point, however, things began speeding up.
Such fast changes force businesses to adapt. So, the importance of scaling and flexibility gets critical.
Security is one of the most critical aspects of embedded systems development. There are four main problems associated with security on embedded projects. Let’s view them in more detail:
Lack of user awareness
A significant share of responsibility for secure embedded software development lies on your developers. So, it is crucial to choose a vendor that performs regular security training to boost security awareness among professionals. During such pieces of training, it is explained how important it is to develop and update strong passwords. Also, your developers learn to regularly update security patches.
Improper device updates
The software embedded devices run on is often outdated, thus vulnerable to hackers. To solve this problem, the manufacturers of devices should prefer developing small patches more often to developing substantial updates. Such an approach will help to reduce the time that hackers have to identify the embedded system vulnerabilities.
Lack of robust security protocols
There are a few aspects that are crucial for overall system security. They are, for instance, secure network protocols, such as message-passing protocol, security certificates, and point-to-point encryption. Every device of the system needs access to the cloud to be secure. Cloud vendors grant their users private security keys and certificates, which have to be generated for each device individually.
If you choose not to use these out-of-the-box solutions, developing a custom security system to mitigate cybersecurity risks gets critical.
Lack of built-in security patches
Embedded software is often exposed to security threats due to outdated security software. However, the problem is that many devices do not have enough hard drive space for new patches and updates. The primary reason for this is that device manufacturers often choose cost-saving over security.
To mitigate this security risk, you should choose secure hardware.
Also, the provider of agile embedded software development you choose should:
- have a strict password security policy;
- indicate the networks that will be used to operate your data;
- have a contract clause about what happens to your data when your agreement is over: typically, it gets deleted or transferred back to you.
All these challenges can be addressed by outsourcing to a reliable vendor. So, let’s view the benefits of this process in more detail.
Benefits of embedded software development with an external vendor
1. Access to a vast talent pool
It is a challenge to find experienced developers of embedded systems.
However, outsourcing can help to facilitate the process. For instance, destinations like Ukraine and Poland have a combined talent pool of 82,000 C++ programmers, as well as 11,000 embedded software engineers.
Learn how to find the best embedded software programmers
2. Easy scaling
In the fast-evolving world of technology, it is critical to be able to adapt. Contracting out allows you to adjust your team (scale it up or down) whenever you need. What’s more, trusted providers of agile embedded software development typically have a vast internal talent pool, thus making the scaling process easier.
3. Ability to innovate
Embedded software development with an extental tech partner allows you to tap into new technologies. Vendors that offer embedded software services typically have versatile expertise. What’s more, trusted providers have experience in many different technologies. So, it gets easier to implement new technologies with a trusted vendor.
4. Your vendor tackles security issues
Trusted providers of embedded software development have streamlined security policy, as well as all required security protocols. Later in the article, we cover the top cybersecurity certifications your vendors should have.
These were the benefits of outsourcing such development to a trusted technology partner. Now, let’s take a closer look at the best practices.
Embedded software development: best practices
Here are the top six best practices that N-iX specialists have collected during years of delivering successful embedded projects.
1. Develop secure hardware
No matter how advanced and security-aware, software alone cannot ensure the security of embedded systems. Hardware capabilities allow the operating system to provide security functionality. This functionality includes access control policies, rootless execution, encrypted file systems, path space control, and thread-level anomaly detection.
2. Encrypt your data
Data encryption protects your information by encoding it when it is at rest as well as in transit. It is a crucial layer of secure embedded systems development. Data that is encrypted is hard to decipher if you don't have a decryption key. This key, in turn, is granted to a limited number of people.
3. Leave sensitive data on-premises
Although cloud providers take security very seriously, storing your sensitive data in a public cloud may be risky.
Many companies that operate sensitive data store it in physical data centers and use the cloud for flexibility, connectivity, and scalability.
4. Use DevSecOps approach
DevSecOps approach is the new black when it comes to embedded systems development.
Within this approach, security is integrated into every stage of the development process. Every expert is responsible for their code security. So, assessing and mitigating security risks becomes a part of the embedded e software development.
5. Choose a vendor with an established security policy
You should look for a provider that follows procedures and policies to meet your cybersecurity demands. To do so, make sure that your provider of agile embedded software development is compliant with security regulations (e.g., ISO 27001:2013, PCI DSS, ISO 9001:2015, etc). Also, ask if your provider of embedded software development undertakes recurrent audits (both internal and external ones) of its compliance with the security standards and policies.
6. Opt for Agile methodologies
The agile approach brings a wide array of benefits that are critical for your business success. They are, for instance, accelerated product delivery, improved ability to manage priorities that change, better quality, lower costs, as well as better cost and time predictability.
Using these best practices makes embedded software development more secure. But how to choose a reliable provider of embedded software development that will help you build a secure and efficient solution?
How to choose a provider of embedded systems development?
We have gathered key steps and selection criteria worth considering when selecting a provider of agile embedded software development:
- Create a list of your potential providers of embedded software development and analyze them based on their expertise, services quality, and security standards;
- Keep in mind the size of your potential partner, as mid-size and large providers are more likely to have recruitment capabilities and resources you need internally;
- Look for a vendor with a robust portfolio of successful embedded projects in different industries;
- Gather customer feedback about shortlisted companies: you can use Clutch.co, Goodfirms, vendors’ websites, etc. to find client reviews and testimonials;
- Assess the skills of professionals in embedded systems development your partner-to-be employs.
Embedded software development: success stories
Embedded software development is used primarily in manufacturing, energy, automotive, aviation, and many other industries. Global businesses, such as Weinman, Cardo Systems, Anoto, Locinox, have used it as a competitive advantage. Let’s view these success stories in more detail.
1. Weinman Emergency
Weinman Emergency is a German company developing solutions for ventilation and defibrillation in emergency medicine. This client started the partnership with N-iX in 2019 to extend its engineering capabilities. Weinmann Emergency was looking for professionals with expertise in the healthcare domain.
During the project, N-iX experts have contributed to the Linux firmware development with C++ using the Qt framework. We helped our client to expand their development capabilities and boost the time to market of the MEDUCORE Standard² solution.
2. Cardo Systems
Cardo Systems is a company that develops DMC and Bluetooth communication and entertainment systems for motorcycle riders based in The US. Cardo Systems partnered with N-iX in 2016, and the cooperation is ongoing.
N-iX professionals tested both software and hardware for a wide array of connectivity solutions for motorcycle riders. We gathered a strong team of QA professionals to carry out functional and regression testing, hardware-to-hardware integration testing, and hardware-to-software integration testing.
Anoto is a Swedish digital writing company engineering, developing, and marketing mobile data capture solutions for handwriting. Our experts were involved in the development of an array of Anoto products.
For example, N-iX professionals contributed to developing the Anoto Digital Pen, a combination of an ink pen and a digital camera created to record everything written with the pen.
Locinox is a Belgian company developing mechanical and electro-mechanical components for fences and gates. This client partnered with us to design and develop efficient and secure indoor and outdoor hardware for fences and gates from the ground up. Our experts provided testing and QA services at every stage of firmware and hardware development. We have applied a wide range of best practices to meet the complex technical requirements of the project. N-iX professionals were responsible for prototype design, firmware, hardware development, and technical documentation for the project.
Why choose N-iX to outsource your embedded software development?
- N-iX offers comprehensive expertise in embedded software development: it comprises hardware and firmware development, products maintenance and testing, as well as support;
- Our experts have experience working with embedded systems development for wearables, consumer electronics, as well as industrial automation solutions;
- The company has a robust portfolio of embedded and IoT projects, such as Weinman, Locinox, Anoto, and others;
- Our specialists have advanced knowledge of C/C++ and other programming languages commonly used in embedded systems development.