Embedded Systems – Shifting Focus to Software
The embedded market is currently in a state of change. In the past, embedded system vendors sold systems based on a hardware sales approach with a simple one time sale for the product. IP protection was seldom required as the systems were hard to copy and hack. Today, the various functionalities in embedded systems are more and more realized in software. There are many reasons for this movement toward software driven features which result in reduced time to market, production outsourcing, dealing with the lack of engineering resources, handling connected devices, preparing for the Internet of Things ( IoT) to name just a few.
The biggest questions existing embedded system vendors can ask today are “How can we keep pace with all these changes in our market” and “What is the quickest and easiest way to move towards IoT?” Most small to mid-size companies do not have the time to analyze the impact of all these changes for their business or do not have personnel who are able to adapt all the new technologies to their products and services.
Fortunately, there are currently professional out-of-the-box solutions available to face these challenges. In addition, by limiting the number of development projects you run at the same time, you can better utilize your engineering resources. This consolidation allows you to streamline your products and the platforms they run on. Having less product variants in development means fewer developers, fewer qualification efforts, and so on.
Consolidation may seem like a challenge, but the solution is simple with a software monetization system to manage it for you. You could segment your software to offer separate functions which can be switched to active (available) or passive (disabled). The benefit of doing this is that by generating only one software package and enabling single features in your application individually but controlling them with a centralized system, your team can easily manage multiple different product variants. Instead, they manage just one with multiple optional features. These systems are easy to integrate into your existing embedded software by integrating a dedicated runtime on your system.
An additional advantage to implementing an out-of-the-box software monetization system is that you will have copy protection built in automatically. Let’s assume that you are using an external manufacturing service. Are they producing for just you, or for other similar companies? What happens if you invest in your product development and someone else is offering an identical product based on your design and IP but for a much lower price? A software monetization system takes a unique fingerprint of your associated hardware, and a license is generated by the system to match it. Your application will only then become functional if the fingerprint and the license match.
In addition to a software licensing platform, you need to consider features that encrypt your software against reverse engineering and modification. Products like SafeNet’s Sentinel Envelope provide strong encryption against reverse engineering attacks. This type of encryption is especially important if you have routines and algorithms which have a high value to you and the success of your company. It is important for companies to consider flexible licensing, cost effective product packaging as well as strong encryption to secure their company’s IP.
The value of your company is in your embedded software, so you need to take protecting it seriously. It truly is quite easy to implement a software monetization system at your business. Companies similar to SafeNet set up the entire system and can typically help with implementation, ERP integration and CRM connections and can consult you on the new strategies to monetize your products. Not only will a software monetization system save you time and money with your embedded systems, but it will allow your business to become quick, flexible and secure.