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7 Things to Consider When Choosing an OS for IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the latest buzzword in technology circles. Device manufacturers are in a rush to provide ever better ways to interconnect different devices. A growing number of development platforms are competing for the attention of manufacturers and developers alike.

The architecture of the IoT comprises sensors or end-nodes connected to gateways that are in turn linked to the cloud. Matching application needs with OS capabilities is the most important step when choosing an IoT OS. Here are seven factors to consider.

Real-Time Performance


Real time usually means instantaneously or very fast. In the context of IoT, it also connotes predictability and determinism. Choice of OS should take into consideration the desired timing and predictability in the application’s’ response to triggers.

Available Resources


Size is a key point of deliberation when selecting an OS. If the system cannot fit in the processing unit’s internal memory, an additional cost will be incurred procuring external memory.

The device processor should also have sufficient capacity to support both the OS and running applications. Since the small processors in sensor nodes do not provide support for memory management (caching, allocation, and protection), an OS that can provide support for this would eliminate the need for additional coding.

Source: Pixabay



With the proliferation of massive botnets such as Mirai, security is top of mind when building IoT devices. The best approach to security is ensuring it’s accounted for in the network, OS, and hardware layers. OS security features include integrated SSL, secure boot, wireless authentication protocol support, and encryption engine and on-chip security drivers.

Power Efficiency


Energy efficiency is particularly important for battery-powered systems such as sensor nodes. In some cases, sensor batteries are expected to last for 10 years or more. Whereas power consumption is mostly dependent on hardware choice, an OS that supports energy management features can improve heat dissipation and battery life.

Hardware Choice


The principal benefit of IoT is the integration of devices from various networks and domains. For this reason, a broad range of hardware platforms must co-exist. The OS should have a good abstraction layer that makes it easier to support multiple hardware platforms. This will in turn reduce the effort required for code migration.

Networking and Communication Requirements


Standard communication protocols ensure the interoperability of IoT systems. For low-end devices, the TCP/IP protocol is inefficient in both power consumption and data overhead. Minimal overhead protocols such as 6LoWPAN, CoAP and z wave products work well in constrained environments, and the chosen OS should support them.

Enterprise System Interoperability


It’s important to consider systems and processes that’ll be used to integrate IoT devices with enterprise systems.

OS selection is fundamental to the success of an IoT project. Linux maintains a strong lead in the IoT OS sphere, so it should be one of the top contenders. Due to the wide range of available alternatives, it is crucial to evaluate each OS’ capability against the desired requirements of the target IoT ecosystem.