Use of containers as an alternative to hypervisors for building and deploying internet of things (IoT) applications took a step forward, as Resin.io announced it has extended the ResinOS platform to enable the running multiple containers on the same IoT gateway or device.
Alison Davis, director of product marketing and strategy for Resin.io, says multicontainer support is by far and away the No. 1 feature requested by the company’s customers. With the release of resinOS v2.12.0, developers now can split IoT applications into multiple services, packaging each with the operating environment and tools required to run on same underlying infrastructure.
With this release developers also can choose between Raspberry Pi 3 and the Intel NUC platforms to run their applications, with support for additional devices planned over the next several weeks.
Resion.io has built an instance of a balena container environment based on the technologies that Docker has made available via the Moby Project, an open source instance of the container platform technology Docker Inc. used to create the Docker platform. Compatible with Docker container images, the balena engine provides a common later of abstraction and application programming interfaces (APIs) across multiple IoT platforms.
It’s still early days when it comes to building IoT applications, but Davis says it should not come as a surprise when one day there are more containers running at the network edge than inside date centers. Most developers of IoT applications may not be all that familiar with containers as an alternative to hypervisors. But given the need for a lightweight framework for running IoT applications, it’s only a matter of time before many of them turn to containers to build IoT applications that can run on multiple platforms and be easily updated, says Davis.
Next up, Resin.io plans to make it easier to manage containers, which are ephemeral by nature, across fleets of IoT devices and gateways.
By stripping out a lot of the overhead associated with deploying Docker containers in the enterprise, Resin.io sees an opportunity to steal a march on rivals. The challenge is navigating all the IoT factions that currently exist inside an organization. Operations teams that have long held sway over embedded systems are in many cases jockeying with internal IT organizations to maintain control over those systems after they connected to the internet. While neither party may be well-versed in containers, any framework that doesn’t require as much centralized command and control is likely to appeal to operations teams. Hypervisor-based approaches not only tend to not only require more system resources, they also can be more challenging for operations teams to manage on their own.
The good news is next-generation IoT applications based on microservices enabled by containers are greenfield in nature. There’s not a crushing number of monolithic applications that need to be modernized. But as IoT applications based on containers begin to proliferate, there’s also no doubt many new management challenges still lie ahead.