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Revolutionising IoT with Microvisor-Based Firmware Management

6 minute read

In the realm of IoT product development, factors like reliable connectivity, trustworthy security, and cost predictability are paramount, especially within the industrial sector. Achieving reliable connectivity alongside robust security demands seamless interaction between devices and networks. On the device side, maintaining secure connectivity components like cellular modems and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth coprocessors, updated with patches, is crucial. Equally, the network should guarantee the uptime demanded by connected hardware.

For two decades, KORE has been a dependable network provider. With the recent acquisition of Twilio IoT, a fresh paradigm emerges. We present a pioneering approach encompassing the device and its firmware layer: the microvisor-based method and our new KORE Microvisor IoT device builder platform. 

KORE Microvisor relieves firmware engineers of the intricate task of designing, building, and managing their own remote firmware management systems, empowering them to focus on their applications rather than getting bogged down in the foundational infrastructure.

Necessity of a New IoT Platform

While many appreciate platform-centric IoT development for managed security, OTA (over-the-air) updates, and holistic device lifecycle management, it has its drawbacks. Prescriptive platforms can restrict developers' language, OS, and tool choices, which can be acceptable for some users, but seasoned professionals seek more flexibility. Many design houses look back to years of developed firmware code and libraries, a rewrite of which would be too costly to justify, no matter how attractive the platform value proposition might appear. Arnal Dayaratna from IDC emphasises openness, echoing our call for a fresh approach — introducing the "microvisor" architecture.

Decoding the Microvisor Concept

A microvisor is an IoT connectivity architecture that employs a hypervisor for microcontrollers, enabling reliable and secure remote firmware operations on Internet-connected devices. KORE Microvisor pioneers this concept at scale, offering 24/7 connectivity, managed hardware-to-cloud security, unbrickable (!) OTA firmware updates, and secure remote debugging. KORE also sends security patches through OTA updates for the lifetime of the device fleet, removing the planning and staffing headache of ensuring lifelong security.  

With Microvisor, flexibility reigns, allowing you to choose any programming language, OS, CI/CD environment, toolchain, and cloud integration. This agility is vital in the era of Edge AI and ML Ops, where rapid progress of algorithms and code is crucial. 

In a nutshell, KORE Microvisor allows embedded engineers to continuously debug and improve a connected hardware product after it has been deployed to the field. For the first time with microcontroller-class devices, developers can securely log into a deployed device and debug their code line-by-line, then send a code fix to the entire fleet. This promises a new level of agility both in the building and the managing of connected devices.  

Technically, a microvisor leverages Arm TrustZone™ in microcontrollers, dividing them into secure zones at boot time. This grants security without sacrificing flexibility. The microvisor zone handles all connectivity tasks, including performing HTTP and MQTT integrations, which frees the developer to focus on their value-add. 


The Power of Microvisor in Business

The unparalleled freedom of choice distinguishes the microvisor approach from most other IoT platforms. Adopting microvisor-based IoT connectivity poses a minimal risk. Developers simply integrate their pre-existing application into a microvisor-based platform, while retaining the flexibility to migrate away from the platform if needed in the future. All the existing code remains intact and in their control, ensuring its continued functionality for the intended use case. 

KORE Microvisor delivers value across IoT project phases:

  1. Development: Microvisor expedites time-to-market and reduces development hours. It enables testing in the field vs. In the lab alone, which in turn accelerates problem resolution.
  2. Deployment: Decoupling the firmware development from the hardware manufacturing process means hardware design can finalise and production can begin even if the firmware isn't yet complete. This further accelerates time-to-value. The comms and security being managed by KORE reduces costs and enhances device security.
  3. Ongoing Support: Remote debugging cuts issue resolution time, leading to decreased support costs and increased customer trust. 

Collectively, these factors all contribute to a significantly reduced business risk as you embark on your next IoT project. 

"Connectivity is a must for our energy-as-a-service technology solutions, but not a key differentiator in itself. KORE Microvisor will give us managed connectivity with the real-time processing capability that we need for our "virtual power plant" products." - Kiwi Powered

KORE brings the necessary expertise to implement security for connected MCUs, and the ability to support any software/firmware development approach an embedded engineer might already have selected ensures a speedy Go-To-Market and makes them the perfect partner for us.” - ST Microelectronics

KORE Microvisor's public beta phase welcomes forward-looking companies to join the Microvisor Beta Program. With the provided development board, one can harness the transformative potential of Microvisor. Sign up today and get hands-on with Microvisor, and stay tuned for in-depth dives into its capabilities on the KORE blog.

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