Empowering Embedded Systems and IoT Services Through Software Defined Approach
Artificial Intelligence
Silpa Sasidharan June 26, 2023

Are you amazed by the technological advancements happening every minute in this modern era? Yet another breakthrough in embedded IoT services is helping developers build flexible and reliable systems. Let’s explore the possibilities of using software-embedded systems in the world of IoT.

The software-defined approach in embedded systems facilitates greater flexibility, efficiency and scalability. Typically, hardware determines the system’s capabilities in traditional embedded systems. On the other hand, in the software-defined approach, the focus moves towards software. As a result, software-defined embedded systems use virtualization techniques. Additionally, it helps host numerous applications on a single hardware platform.

Why does Software-defined Approach Gain Popularity?

The complexity of embedded systems makes improvements and innovations difficult. We already know in embedded systems; the emphasis is on hardware rather than embedded software development. This method has been popular since the 90s when electronic elements were built in the first place and later the software components. Under such instances, there was little scope for scalability. On the other hand, the software-defined infrastructure provides the opportunity for expansion.

In a software-based approach, there are hardly any cables or wires compared with hardware systems; therefore, the connectivity costs would be minimal. Furthermore, it consumes little physical space and needs less field management service.

Shifting from a Hardware-defined to a Software-defined approach

The software-defined approach encourages the use of software to control and handle the functionalities of the embedded system instead of using the physical components of the device. It applies to networking, data centres, storage and devices in which software-defined technologies help the hardware abstraction. It provides enhanced agility and adaptability to scale up and adjust to ever-evolving needs.

Software-defined Embedded IoT

For example, in manufacturing industries, software-defined plants rely on software to handle production to help with improved flexibility and comprehensive automation. Adopting a software-defined approach helps enhance consistency and product quality. More importantly, minimizing the hardware design complexity makes room for adjusting the settings in accordance with changing market needs and helps establish a smart factory.

As we all know, one of the significant components of IoT is embedded systems that perform specific tasks in large devices and systems. With the need for expansion and the rising complexities in IoT implementation, the software-defined approach has started getting more attention.

Why is software portability the key driver for embedded IoT? 

Earlier, embedded systems were created with the help of custom software and hardware. It offered greater control over the system’s performance. However, it consumed profound amounts of time for development and incurred more costs. Over a period, with the fast-paced development of IoT, there arose a need for adaptable and flexible solutions. In a software-defined approach, the functions are independent of hardware specification to facilitate easier upgrades.

Software portability assumes great significance in successfully deploying and managing embedded IoT. There are several features software portability offers for embedded IoT solutions.

Cross-platform compatibility

For numerous reasons, software portability is one of the key drivers for embedded Internet of Things (IoT) devices. In the first place, software portability enables cross-platform compatibility and helps run on multiple platforms without additional changes. As a result, it helps developers to focus on many devices to reach out to a wide range of potential customers.

Improved Scalability

In an IoT landscape, there are several devices with different capabilities- for instance, there are robust edge devices and devices with limited resources. Software portability allows enhanced scalability by enabling the deployment of applications on several devices. Indeed, enhanced scalability helps efficiently utilise resources and facilitates adapting to the ever-evolving needs in the realm of IoT services.


In an IoT landscape, several devices from different manufacturers have to communicate and operate together. Software portability allows interoperability that enables application deployment on all devices in the IoT ecosystem, regardless of the hardware and software configurations. Further, it allows integration and communication between IoT devices, improving the system’s overall efficiency.

Also read: How AI and IoT Can Be Leveraged For Citizen Security in Smart Cities

Difference between Embedded System programming and IoT programming

Even though both embedded system programming and IoT programming have many similarities, they have some distinct differences. They both have programming devices but differ in several contexts, for example, connectivity, scope and application domain. Below we examine the major differences between embedded system programming and IoT programming.


In embedded system programming, the connectivity options are very limited, and the emphasis is on specific protocols with only a little extensive connectivity to external networks.

On the other hand, in IoT programming, devices use internet connectivity to interact with other devices or cloud services. Several wireless protocols like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular networks transfer data.


Embedded system programming is related to programming a dedicated device with limited functionality. Usually, the software is built to run on a single microcontroller, such as programming firmware for industrial control systems, automotive systems, or consumer electronics goods such as microwave ovens or digital cameras.

The IoT systems range from interconnected devices to a wide network of devices over different locations. IoT programming is dedicated to building software programs that enable devices to communicate and transfer data with other devices on the Internet. The scope and scale of IoT programming are much bigger compared to embedded system programming. 

Application Domain

Several industries use embedded system programming, such as healthcare, consumer goods, automotive aerospace and so on. Also, it helps develop flexible and dedicated systems for specific applications. 

On the contrary, IoT Programming entails broader scope, and its use cases are numerous, ranging from manufacturing industries, smart homes, smart agriculture, healthcare, smart cities to transportation. IoT programming focuses on gathering data, its analysis and interoperability between several devices and platforms. Also, cloud-based services and data analytics assumes great importance in IoT programming.

Also read: AI-driven Digital Transformation: Key to Sustainability & Growth

How Do IoT and Embedded Systems Function Together?

As we know, IoT and embedded systems work alongside to facilitate several applications. Embedded systems are computing devices in the first place. It consists of sensors and processors to gather data. On the other hand, implementing the embedded system-based IoT services enables fast data exchange between devices/systems and the cloud.

With the help of connectivity, embedded systems transmit data over the cloud. Data analysis and processing in real-time helps businesses make valuable insights. Besides, it features remote management and control. Integrating IoT and embedded systems focus on creating a robust landscape in which devices collect, communicate, and exchange data to achieve the intended objectives.

Frequently asked questions 

What are IoT and embedded systems?

IoT encompasses a network of interconnected smart devices and sensors over the Internet. IoT is fast evolving in the embedded industry sector. By the end of 2030, IoT devices will reach about 50 billion.

What are the features of embedded systems in IoT?

It features hardware as well as application software. It uses Real Time Operating system (RTOS) to monitor the application software and ensure that the processor runs a process as per schedule. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, the software-defined approach is transforming the embedded systems and IoT landscape. Separating hardware functionality from software applications features several benefits, such as interoperability and scalability. When embedded systems and IoT services function together, it allows integration with new technologies and accommodates changing business needs.

A software-defined ecosystem’s key takeaways include rapid prototyping, minimising time to market (TTM), and promoting innovation. But at the same time, addressing the safety concern is paramount in a software-defined approach. As technology evolves, it revolutionises all businesses and everyday life through robust interconnected systems.

Need help with implementing IoT services?  Rely on the best solutions from ThinkPalm to change the destiny of your organization!

Software-defined Embedded IoT Systems


Author Bio

Silpa Sasidharan is a content writer and social media copywriting expert working at ThinkPalm Technologies, who aspires to create marketing texts for topics spanning from technology, automation and digital business solutions.