Yocto vs Ubuntu Core: time-to-market

Bringing an embedded Linux device to market requires varied capabilities ranging from embedded engineering, app development, backend hosting, software update infrastructure, maintenance and after-sales customer support. Deploying these capabilities at scale typically requires substantial upfront investments, with the complexity involved in acquiring and orchestrating these capabilities delaying the shipment of devices.

Depending on the scope of your embedded Linux project, reducing time to market may be one of your top priorities. With a proliferation of hardware and software solutions rushed out to capture the promise of a multi-billion dollar IoT industry, vendors are under pressure to decrease their development time and speed up their time to market. Selecting a maintainable, scalable, updatable and secure OS from the outset is critical during the development stage to avoid friction once a product is market-ready and shipped in the field.

The inherent flexibility of Yocto provides developers with control over every stage of compiling and building the target. On the other hand, the extensive configuration options expose significant complexity to the end-users. Recipes in Yocto are used to define builds and are a complex combination of Python, shell scripts, and a BitBake-specific language. Debugging is tricky, and developers often struggle before mastering the build process. One must become familiar with the layers and understand how Bitbake parses before generating a working image with Yocto. Hence, after a particularly steep learning curve and painful debugging sessions during the build process, developers face the harsh reality of not getting to market fast. Competition is catching up or leaving them behind. Developers working on embedded Linux projects built with Yocto have to manage their solution, build their OS, maintain their security and provide updates on their own. To own such a process is rarely the core business objective of an enterprise. Getting to market fast when working on a Yocto-based image is then arguably slow because of its inherent complexity and steep learning curve.

On the other hand, the combination of Ubuntu Core, its snaps packages and the App Store offers a turn-key, ready-to-go solution that secures developers’ intellectual property. In transitioning from Yocto to Ubuntu Core, the time to market becomes much faster, as engineers that used to spend several months developing the entire stack from the ground up can now focus solely on their value-add software. With an app-centric Ubuntu, developers can focus on building apps as Canonical provides and maintains the low-level components, enabling teams of any size to build highly-secure embedded devices quickly and cost-effectively.

Furthermore, by providing consulting services allowing enterprises to bootstrap commercial IoT products, Canonical reduces the risks and uncertainty involved in launching and scaling embedded Linux projects while accelerating time to market. The full-service enablement, customisation and development fast tracks an enterprise IoT strategy by guiding it through hardware selection and delivering the infrastructure needed to develop and deploy software to fleets of devices, with consulting services to minimise risk and fill skill gaps.

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