What Software Development Considerations Are Important for the IoT?

What Software Development Considerations Are Important for the IoT?

A closer look at the IoT software development considerations for achieving success with the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things (IoT) finally appears to be making an impact in the modern economy, largely driven by growth in the business world as opposed to consumers. A recent report by Global Data forecasts the market for the enterprise IoT to reach $865 billion by 2026. This projected valuation shows a compound annual growth rate of 9.6 percent compared to 2021. Needless to say, businesses expect to see significant benefits from their IoT investments.

Notably, this massive growth potential is also expected to create a significant amount of opportunities for companies with the software development chops to craft top-shelf IoT applications. Beyond the IoT devices itself, the platforms for this software include the desktop, a web browser, and, of course, mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and wearables. Even embedded systems using a touchscreen remain a possibility.

If your shop wants to explore the potential found in building IoT platforms for businesses, it helps to understand the right approaches. This kind of software development spans multiple platforms, as noted earlier, including everything from embedded devices to the cloud. So let’s take a closer look at the most critical considerations resulting in success in this still emerging market. 

Choosing The Right Operating System For IoT Platform Development 

Beyond mobile devices running iOS or Android or client desktop apps using a web browser, Windows, or MacOS, you need the consider an operating system for the IoT platform itself. This choice largely affects software on the system’s embedded devices, microcontrollers, and gateways. A survey by IoT Developer revealed Linux to be the OS of choice for nearly three-quarters of the respondents. However, nearly one-quarter picked the bare metal/no OS approach.

Linux enjoys wide popularity because of its suitability for embedded systems programming, as well as its flexibility for the platform’s gateways. That latter reason makes sense when you consider Linux’s wide popularity as a server operating system. As noted above, client apps on mobile or the desktop still require developing in multiple operating systems. So make sure your project team boasts a wide range of programming skills and experience. 

Communication Protocols

A variety of options exist for the communication protocols used in an IoT system. As such, your team needs to consider the right approaches for both wired and wireless communication. In the former case, the standard options remain USB, Ethernet, and Serial. 

A larger number of wireless protocols exist, including: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, and LoRA. There are also low overhead options, such as MQTT, CoAP, AMQP, XMPP or UDP. Expect to have to support multiple protocols depending on the specific needs of your IoT solution. Consider partnering with an experienced IoT platform architect to help decide on the right approach for the system protocols.

Managing IoT System Data 

Nearly all IoT architectures collect, transmit, process, and report on data. So architecting how your platform manages its data collection and processing remains a critical task early in any IoT project. You need to consider the overall complexity of the data in the system, as well as storage and analysis considerations. Leveraging the cloud for data storage and processing makes sense for most complex IoT platforms.

A Cross-Platform Approach is Critical 

As hinted at earlier, expect any relatively complex enterprise IoT system to use multiple operating systems. Linux or no OS likely works best for embedded IoT devices, while a mixture of operating systems need to be supported for the client apps used to manage, control, store, and analyze the data generated by the platform. In this scenario, seamless cross-platform integration and functionality remains a critical goal.

When exploring potential IoT vendors, make sure you consider the quality of their SDK and API offerings as part of your criteria. A great API plays a critical role in optimizing the software development process for your engineers. Also ensure your project team boasts programmers with experience working with multiple operating systems – mobile, desktop, and embedded.  

Don’t Skimp on Security 

While the cybersecurity issues that hampered early IoT device management platforms gradually lessened over time, it remains an important issue in any enterprise system. Keep this in mind when vetting IoT device vendors. Also make security a core piece of functionality in any software written for the platform – IoT device, cloud software, and mobile applications.

Design and Build a Seamless, Easy-to-Use IoT System

No matter the complexity of the IoT system, it needs to be easy to use. Sure, advanced data analytics features leveraging machine learning might require a business expert to navigate, but the system’s applications must be user friendly with seamless performance. Make this a core principle for your team throughout the project lifecycle. Expect to have a successful platform as a result. 

If your company has a great idea for an IoT system but lacks the technical chops to make it a reality, connect with the team at NineTwoThree. We boast significant experience in IoT software development, effortlessly combining innovative technology and business know-how. Schedule a meeting with us to discuss the possibilities of a partnership.

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