Embedded software development plays a crucial role in powering modern technology, enabling the functionality and intelligence of various devices and systems. As the complexity of embedded software continues to grow, companies in the industry are recognizing the importance of streamlining their development processes to improve their efficiency.
One effective method of achieving this is through the integration of the many development tools (e.g. build systems, toolchains, debuggers, etc.) into a manageable service, called an Internal Developer Platform (IDP).
The history of IDPs can be traced back to the growing complexity of software development processes within organizations. As software systems became more intricate and interdependent, the need for efficient collaboration, streamlined workflows, and standardized tools became evident. Internal Developer Platforms emerged as a solution to these challenges, providing a dedicated environment for developers to create, test, and deploy software applications.
Over time, these platforms evolved to offer enhanced capabilities, such as automated CI/CD pipelines, integrated development environments (IDEs), and shared libraries, enabling organizations to improve productivity, accelerate development cycles, and maintain consistency across their software projects.
This article delves into the importance of embedded software development organizations developing their IDPs and highlights several compelling reasons to do so. These include:
Minimizing distractions allows individuals to fully concentrate on tasks and optimize their productivity. An Internal Developer Platform consists of standardized Development Environments that can be self-served by software development team members. By providing the required tools on hand, IDPs can reduce the time spent on communication with IT/Ops and can enable teams to get up to speed more quickly.
In safety-critical fields where embedded software is often used, complying with rigorous quality standards is mandatory.
IDPs facilitate the establishment of standardized development processes across an organization by ensuring the consistency
of the Development Environments. They can enforce quality control measures such as code reviews and automated testing,
leading to higher software reliability.
The standards apply not only to the production code but also to the development tools. IDPs can ensure the utilization of the specified compliant tools throughout the development lifecycle, by providing them from a central, managed catalog.
Continuous Integration and Deployment (CI/CD)
Continuous Integration (CI) is already widely used in embedded software projects and Continuous Delivery (CD) is becoming more and more common for devices that can be updated online. CI/CD ensures faster delivery, reliable software releases, and better feedback for the developers. IDPs provide the necessary infrastructure and tools to implement the CI/CD pipelines. Integrating automated build processes, testing frameworks, and deployment pipelines into the IDP makes software delivery efficient and reliable.
Scalability and Adaptability
As embedded software projects grow in complexity, having a development platform that can scale accordingly becomes essential. IDPs can be customized and extended to accommodate the evolving needs of software development teams, ensuring they can meet the demands of their projects.
Security and Intellectual Property Protection
Embedded software development often involves sensitive intellectual property (IP) and security concerns. With an IDP, companies can establish secure development environments with role-based access controls (RBAC) to protect their valuable assets. IDPs can also incorporate security analysis tools and vulnerability assessments, ensuring that software is developed with security best practices in mind. Having a central tool catalog can also decrease security risks because the used tools are not downloaded from unknown sources.
How can DEM power your IDP?
Containerizing your development tools can help you maintain reliable and scalable environments. Storing the container images in a central catalog enforces integrity. An IDP based on containerized Development Environments can ensure that the right tools are used in every environment, like the developer’s PC or the CI/CD server. To simplify the process of obtaining tools for a specific project and maintaining a consistent Development Environment through the whole project life cycle, our open-source tool, the Development Environment Manager (DEM) comes in handy. With DEM, developers can set up a Development or CI/CD Environment with a single command and eliminate the notorious “It worked on my PC!” situation.
Key Points to Remember
Internal Developer Platforms offer embedded software development teams a range of advantages that contribute to improved collaboration, faster development cycles, higher quality software, and reduced time-to-market. If the developers can focus on their actual tasks instead of tweaking the infrastructure, they can stay in flow much longer, which leads to less frustration. Improved developer experience can have significant positive impacts on productivity, morale, and also reduce fluctuation.