2021 in review: Mender, OTA software updates and IoT device management

21st Dec 2021

We look back at what was an amazing year for the evolution of edge IoT and Mender as a best of breed managed service for OTA software updates (and add-on benefits)!

Recognition for the Mender Hub community

First of all, a big thanks to the Mender Hub Community who have helped us to support embedded projects with advice and hardware integrations since 2019. Since then, users have grown by 300%, and thanks to the contributions of the community we now have hardware integration support for 83 boards. Our goal is to create the world’s largest repository of OTA-enabled devices. To achieve this we will need help from all of you.

Mender going global

Despite the continuing pandemic, the Mender team got out there and met with the community in a responsible socially distanced manner where possible.

Catching up with our community friends at ELC (Embedded Linux Conference)

Our CTO Eystein Maloy Stenberg, Head of Technical Product Marketing Farshad Tavakoli and customer engineer Luis Ramirez Vargas went to Seattle, to meet with our friends in the open source community. They presented on and discussed how Mender could continue to evolve in a splendid co-operation with the community. ELC

Revving up at the Railway Forum

We attended the Railway Forum in Berlin, and changed the speeds of a Deutsche Bahn model train around a track with an OTA update for delegates to enjoy. Mender Commercial Director Tom Wilke presented to the audience on OTA Software Updates in Rail. Customer engineer Alan Martinovic excited the audience with his demos of Mender. We also got to interview Rolf Haerdi, CITO, Deutsche Bahn on the topic of digital transformation in rail, and met amazing experts from ZF, DB Infraview, Knorr Bremse, Siemens, Frauscher Sensonic, and many others.

Big in Japan at ET & IoT 2021

For the first time, Mender made its appearance in Japan. Our partner tQCS and their representative Joma Makoto ran a seminar on OTA software updating at ET & IoT 2021 - Japan’s equivalent to Embedded World. ETIOT ETIOT2

Product development: Best of breed OTA (with add-on benefits)

In 2021, the Mender team listened to enterprise customers, and provided additional add-ons beyond the core use case of managing OTA software updates of all kinds from proof of concept through to production and scale.

Key milestones through the year

January: Secure access to the shell of a device

In January, remote terminal access was born and now Mender users could securely reach the shell of a device and launch a remote terminal session to quickly diagnose and troubleshoot issues with that device. Mender Enterprise customer CEO Arne Peine from Clinomic saw this as an essential way to circumvent the need to request access from hospital IT every time they want to inspect and troubleshoot their AI telemedicine devices which operate behind the hospital firewall .

March: Mender Enterprise Steering Committee is born

We assembled existing Mender Enterprise customers and domain experts to come together with our CTO Eystein Maloy Stenberg to discuss the Mender roadmap and to understand how the landscape for OTA software updates and IoT device management is developing in the most progressive organizations across many industries. With quarterly calls, 88 members from the world's leading enterprises now guide Mender’s development with real market insights and underserved desired outcomes. We also launched our strategy blog on device management & security called Device Chronicle.

April: Mender makes key IoT device management capabilities

In April, the Mender product engineering team responded to customer and user requests to make troubleshooting and configuration capabilities available through the same secure environment as through which the OTA software update is delivered. This enabled users to resolve issues with devices in real-time (including remote terminal, file transfer and port forwarding) and to customize each device to its environment by setting key-value configuration attributes that can be unique to each device (including configuration UI, reporting, and scripting).

July: Mender delivers “brick free” OTA updating for Nvidia

A technology partnership 5 months in the making, our customer engineer Luis Ramirez Vargas delivered a reference integration for the Nvidia Jetson AI Edge platform including the Jetson Xavier NX, Jetson AGX Xavier series, and Jetson TX2 series modules. The integration allows the Mender A/B partition design to be used to provide update roll back to Jetson devices with Ubuntu L4T images.

September: IoT device monitoring with efficient edge processing

In September, Mender extended its capabilities to device monitoring. Designed for connected devices and leveraging edge processing, Mender Monitor allows users to detect and analyze health issues of devices, services and applications easily and get alerts instantly through email notifications. Monitor

The most brilliant solutions across various industries

In 2021, the Mender team has devised the most innovative and effective solutions for our customers across a diverse range of industries. Here are some examples:

The Vaillant Group - HVAC Innovations

We helped Vaillant Group realize the robust and secure OTA software updates capability for its next generation through the seamless integration with Microsoft Azure IoT and encrypted communication for updates with NXP-powered edge hardware. Security by design and leading edge features have made Mender a solid choice.

MacGregor - Maritime cargo and load handling

We helped MacGregor to perform the condition monitoring and management tasks with secure and robust OTA updates for the OnWatch Scout product. It enables Macgregor’s customers to check the health status of their equipment with an edge computer and connectivity management with delta updates in an unreliable environment of LTE and Satellite connectivity.

Northvolt - Electrification and renewable energy

We enabled Northvolt to realize ‘brick free’ upgrades of software to IoT devices both in the field with battery systems and in factories where the battery cells and battery systems are manufactured. Device grouping and delta updates together ensure an accurate and light load update, while the offline and code-signed support guarantee the normal function for places that are ‘out of reach’ or when the network access is disabled for some reason.

Siemens Rail - Rail Network and mobile communications

With Mender, Siemens Mobile Communications can perform secure and robust remote updates to digital cabin radios on a UK Network Rail train fleet. Thanks to the A/B partitioning and automated deployment of updates, the risk of device bricking is minimized and demanding requirements of security regulations are satisfied with Mender’s high standard security designs including two-factor authentication and mutual handshakes.

Case studies are available from here to read.

Praise for our partners

Mender now has 33 complementary and like-minded partners to bring the most secure and robust OTA software updates and IoT device management solutions to more organizations and users.

Nvidia, Seeed, tQCS and Quarkslab became our partners in 2021.

Learn more about our partners.

May we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very healthy and prosperous 2022. Merry