Navigating Security Requirements for Data-Driven Operations | Five Questions With… Canonical

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Welcome back to another episode in our series, where we speak with our partners and ask five questions that pave the path to the future of connected devices. We will share insights on overcoming market challenges, adapting to shifting consumer demand, navigating impending regulations, and the impact these factors have on product innovation.

In this Q&A session, we chat with our PSA Certified Level 1 partner, Gabriel Aguiar Noury, Robotics Product Manager at Canonical. With their extensive work across a range of sectors, Canonical can offer a unique perspective of the ever-fluctuating market dynamics.

Read on for an insightful glimpse into the future, drawing from the perspectives of Gabriel. In this discussion, we explore the most exciting facets of the connected devices landscape, the challenges that demand innovative solutions, and the collaborative efforts shaping trust within the ecosystem.

Q1. What excites you most about the future of connected devices?

One key aspect is data-driven operations. With a surge in connected devices, the real-time data they generate opens doors to enhanced operational efficiency, predictive maintenance, and in-depth insights into automation. In factories, warehouses, hospitals, and more, this data-centric approach can help us make decisions that will revolutionize how we operate.

It also allows us to improve sustainability. Pulling data from IoT devices can help organizations optimize their energy use, reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and perform smarter resource allocation.

Q2. What are some of the greatest pressures facing your sector?

As an open source platform provider, Canonical’s broad involvement across sectors brings to light a significant demand for long-term support and security maintenance for the reliability of connected systems.

The practicality of updating devices in the field is a pressing issue. Ensuring that deployed devices remain secure, up-to-date, and functional while minimizing disruption poses a substantial hurdle.

Besides, the intricate nature of supply chains and multifaceted business models compounds pressures. For IoT developers, navigating relationships with global system integrators, board manufacturers and diverse buyers requires a nuanced approach to ensure profitability while adapting to different needs. Having equipment that just works is what all developers aim for, but more often than not, they end up applying fixes just to get the basic functionalities up and running.

Finally, interoperability remains a fundamental concern. As developers and users engage with integrated IoT solutions, the challenge of harmonizing various protocols, System-on-Chip (SoC) technologies, and hardware/software components becomes evident. Canonical plays exactly this role, providing a standardized open source platform built on state-of-the-art standards such as SystemReady and PSA Certified.

Q3. How have you seen customer/consumer demand change over time in your industry?

We’ve witnessed a notable evolution in customer and consumer demands within our industry. Initially, the trend was towards bespoke, custom-built Linux solutions tailored to specific needs. However, this has transitioned towards a preference for long-term supported OS distributions that prioritize long term support windows and security. This shift reflects an industry-wide recognition of the importance of security in connected solutions, as consumers and governments increasingly seek systems that are designed from the ground up with security as a core tenet.

Customers are increasingly inclined to opt for solutions that offer longer support cycles, ensuring their investments remain viable and secure for an extended period, as the IoT devices that they aim to put in the market. There is also a need for more frequent update cycles, as consumers of IoT devices expect security fixes to be applied when identified, and not in a six month window. This demand for timely updates underscores the need for agility in the development and deployment of connected solutions, as companies work to strike a balance between delivering new features and preserving stability.

Q4. In your opinion, how do regulations, time-to-market, and security interact, and impact innovation?

The intricate interplay between regulations, time-to-market pressures, and security has a profound impact on innovation within the industry. Navigating new regulations isn’t a straightforward task; companies must dedicate significant time to understand their implications and ensure compliance. This investment of time naturally extends the time-to-market for products, affecting the speed with which innovations can be introduced to consumers. And small players simply can’t afford this.

From a technical standpoint, security regulations often require robust authentication systems, end-to-end data encryption and more security policies. They introduce complexities that can further extend development cycles and venture costs.

However, if done correctly, well-designed regulations can paradoxically create robust businesses that deploy higher-quality, more secure devices. Regulations should serve as a guardrail that nudges companies to prioritize security, reducing risks and fostering consumer trust, which ultimately contributes to their success in the market.

Security, as a foundational concern, extends its impact on brand reputation. Companies that prioritize security not only comply with regulations, but also cultivate a reputation for reliability and customer-centric practices.

Q5. What can we do collectively to enhance trust in the ecosystem, and among consumers more widely?

Enhancing trust within the ecosystem and among consumers, demands a collaborative approach focused on transparency, security and shared standards.

First, elevating quality and security practices in the ecosystem is paramount. Take open source software, a key element for today’s innovation. It bolsters security measures through open scrutiny and transparent development processes, but only if maintainers and contributors alike understand the key role they play for the ecosystem.

Second, transparency extends to the regulatory landscape. Providing clear insights into the intent and implications of regulations is crucial, especially for smaller companies navigating complex policies.

Regulations should be written thinking of everyone involved: consumers and companies, international organizations and small startups. This transparency fosters a sense of fairness and empowers smaller players to participate confidently, contributing to a more balanced and thriving ecosystem.

Embracing standards like PSA Certified holds great potential. By unifying security measures across diverse regions and use cases, the industry demonstrates a collaborative commitment to safeguarding consumers. We can only keep asking Arm and the rest of the PSA Certified co-founders to continue its support towards industry standards while being supportive of startups and innovators.

About Gabriel Aguiar Noury

Gabriel is a mechatronic engineer, former entrepreneur, and PhD in Robotics. Over the past decade, he has been supporting the development of innovation ecosystems for the robotics market by creating industry‐wide platforms. This included running business incubator programs, UX and UI evaluation services, and providing robotics companies access to open-source DevOps infrastructure, working in different EU initiatives and organizations.

Today, Gabriel is the Product Manager of Ubuntu Core, Canonical’s immutable operating system for IoT and devices. At Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, he’s immersed in the development of open-source software tools for embedded devices.