The development of machine-to-machine (M2M) embedded solutions presents some specific challenges, compared to other embedded applications:
Embedded devices operate in the field, often distributed over large geographical areas.
- There is no human operator to troubleshoot or maintain them.
- They come in potentially large fleets that must be managed collectively and effectively.
- Communications happen largely over wireless networks.
- They integrate many different fields of expertise: hardware, embedded software, networking, wireless, collaboration with telecom operators, server-side software, and user interfaces. While none of these fields are beyond the reach of a competent R&D department, very few departments master all of these skills simultaneously.
Moreover, and contrary to what many would guess, only 5% of the typical costs of an M2M project go to hardware, according to an Analysys Mason Report.1 Also, 17% is spent on communication fees, and a staggering 78% is spent on application design and provisioning.
Given how much of the total cost they represent, R&D teams must be equipped with all the productivity tools they can afford. Investing in tools is generally more important than saving a couple of CPU cycles on the hardware, although this approach runs contrary to the habits of many embedded development shops.