How to Combine Embedded Systems and Cloud Computing?

Embedded systems are everywhere. Yet, many of these systems are islands in an age where more and more systems are being connected to the Internet. The ability to connect to the Internet can be taken advantage by resources cloud computing can offer. A recently finished thesis conducted in the Software Systems Engineering Research Group at the University of Helsinki presents what cloud enhanced embedded systems are and what their benefits, risks, typical implementation methods, and platforms are.

The study addresses the questions

  • What use cases are there for combining cloud and embedded systems?
  • What kind of experience or empirical evidence exists for integrating cloud into embedded systems?
  • How are cloud enhanced embedded systems classified?
  • What are the benefits of cloud and embedded system integration seen by researchers?
  • What are the risks and challenges of cloud and embedded system integra- tion seen by researchers?

What are the prerequisites for integration of cloud into embedded systems?
How is the integration of cloud into embedded system typically done?
What architectures, platforms and hardware are used in cloud enhanced embedded systems?
The study shows that the interest from academia and practice in cloud enhanced embedded systems has been growing significantly in recent years. The most prevalent research area is wireless sensor networks followed by the more recent research area Internet of things. Most of the technology is available for implementing cloud enhanced embedded systems but comprehensive development tools such as frameworks or middle wares are scarce. Cloud enhanced embedded systems will also be key for the Industrial Internet (sometimes also referred to as Industry 4.0 / Industie 4.0)

Results of the study indicate that existing embedded systems and other non-computing devices would benefit from connectivity and cloud resources. This enables the development of new applications for consumers and industry that would not be possible without cloud resources.

Perceived benefits of cloud integration to embedded systems are

  • Remote Monitoring Ability
  • Extended Data Storage
  • Benefits from Distribution
  • Pervasiveness
  • Offloading (Data, processing)
  • Ad-hoc communication
  • Remote Management
  • Added Functionality
  • New Application Possibilities
  • Web services
  • Mobility

The academic literature is full of use cases for cloud enhanced embedded systems and model implementations. However, the actual integration process as well as specific engineering techniques are rarely explained or scrutinized. Currently, the typical integration process is very custom to the application. There are few examples of efforts to create specific development tools, more transparent protocols, and open hardware to support the development of ecosystems for cloud enhanced embedded systems. Read the study here.

Related article:

  • [PDF] [DOI] Nilay Oza, Jürgen Münch, Juan Garbajosa, Agustin Yague, Eloy Gonzalez Ortega. Identifying Potential Risks and Benefits of Using Cloud in Distributed Software Development. In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Product-Focused Software Development and Process Improvement, June 2013. Paphos, Cyphrus, June 12-14, 2013
    [Bibtex] [doi] [url] [pdf]
    @inproceedings{OMGYG13,
    author = {Nilay Oza, Jürgen Münch, Juan Garbajosa, Agustin Yague, Eloy Gonzalez Ortega}, 
    title = {Identifying Potential Risks and Benefits of Using Cloud in Distributed Software Development}, 
    booktitle= {Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Product-Focused Software Development and Process Improvement}, 
    year = {2013},
    month = {June},
    note = {Paphos, Cyphrus, June 12-14, 2013},
    url = {http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-642-39259-7_19},
    doi =  {10.1007/978-3-642-39259-7_19}
    }