Arm has established a strong presence in devices when it comes to the IoT. According to their own estimates, its eponymous architecture is found in 95% of smartphones and 90% of wearables, making up the backbone of how 125+ billion chips handle data.
Today, in a briefing with Arm CMO Joyce Kim and the President of the IoT Services Group Dipesh Patel, the company announced two major IoT-focused pieces of news. First, they announced the acquisition of enterprise data management company, Treasure Data. Second, they are launching a new "device-to-data" IoT platform, Pelion. Let's take a quick look at how this new company and platform fit into the larger Arm landscape—and how Pelion stands to replace cloud providers, IoT platforms, and connectivity management services with a broad new "end-to-end" paradigm.
The Evolution of Mbed
In 2014, Arm launched the Mbed OS, an operating system designed specifically for IoT applications. This open source OS has become familiar to many IoT designers, especially as it was integrated into the tenured DesignStart program designed to allow developers access to the Cortex-M0 processor (and which was recently updated to include the Cortex-M3 processor).
In October, Arm launched the Mbed Cloud, a cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) platform intended to manage networks of IoT devices securely.
All told, Mbed was created and continually developed as a way to support device creation and deployment, but also the management of those devices throughout their lifecycle. This includes a philosophy of embedded design that takes into account the software running on the device as well as the software running on the cloud end. Patel referred to this as the only way to achieve "true device management".
Now, where Mbed once sat on Arm's website in the IoT Products menu, there are two options: Mbed OS and a newcomer, Pelion.
Introducing Arm Pelion
Arm states that Pelion was created because of rising concerns in the market about the massive amounts of complex data being generated from various devices. Controlling and analyzing this much information isn't just a trick of processing and storing data—it's also a question of controlling and understanding data and, perhaps paramount, securing it against threats.
The sheer volume of data generated in a day is already staggering and Arm predicts that we will hit three trillion IoT devices by 2035. So, Arm decided to design a platform specifically able to handle diverse devices individually (various sensors, e.g.), networks of these devices, and able to securely communicate data from those networks to the cloud.
Regarding the image above, Patel explained that Pelion is a combination of the following three areas that represent work already done by Arm:
- Device management: Development of Mbed Cloud
- Connectivity management: Acquisition of Stream Technologies
- Data management: Acquisition of Treasure Data
Given this roadmap, it's easy to see that Pelion has been a long time coming.
To address "connectivity management", Arm acquired Stream Technologies in June, another company that had been focused on developing platforms for IoT device management through M2M (machine-to-machine) communication. Its now-defunct Crunchbase profile states that Stream Technologies "provides wireless connectivity across cellular, satellite, and low-power wide area networks." Patel mentioned that Pelion will integrate device management with the management of connectivity to those devices through various networks. This includes cellular and Wi-Fi—and Stream Technology's platform would be crucial to that. The goal is for someone overseeing an IoT environment to be able to see connectivity information alongside device information.
With this recent acquisition, Arm wasted no momentum in acquiring another company for its tool chest, Treasure Data, which has been integrated into Patel's IoT Services Group. Treasure Data has multiple products, but what interested Arm in this young data management company was its capabilities in handling vast amounts of data generated by the IoT. Kim described Treasure Data as "complementary" to Arm's ambitions in the IoT market due to the "massive amounts of data events that Treasure Data" manages. It's also part of a larger conversation about the future of the IoT as how data is managed becomes more and more.
Patel and Kim emphasized multiple times the concept of the "hybridized environment" which may include utilizing private datacenters or public clouds. Back in 2014, Arm was already seeing what they call "fragmentation" in the cloud as more device types, forms of communication, and security issues pop up. Designing this platform with the "hybrid" approach in mind could be seen as a way of embracing this fragmented IoT landscape and making it more manageable for designers.
Mbed + Stream Technologies + Treasure Data = Pelion
All of these elements together paint a picture of the level of management that Arm intends to allow engineers to have. From Mbed that helps with device creation and management to these newest branches of the new Pelion brand, it's clear that Arm is doubling down on providing a broad and holistic IoT system.
Staking a Claim on a Bigger Market
Pelion represents the culmination of a series of investments in the IoT sphere. As the cloud grows and changes, Arm hopes to be a broad-strokes solution for the varied companies involved in the IoT.
When asked if this is a signal that Arm is inching into the analytics space, Patel stated that their focus at Arm is focused on common problems across the industry: "Everything that we've done, whether it's on the connectivity side or the device side or the data side is really about horizontal problems that are... agnostic to any particular use case."
If that is a future that Arm intends to pursue, they'll be looking at a situation where they are a dominant force in chip architectures and also a resource for managing the data gathered from the devices in which their chips are used. They've already prepared this path by developing platforms for device management so, as this year progresses, it seems likely that they will continue to expand their role in the IoT space further.