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When 'code rot' becomes a matter of life or death, especially in the Internet of Things

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The possibilities opened up to us by the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is a beautiful thing. However, not enough attention is being paid to the software that goes into the things of IoT. This can be a daunting challenge, since, unlike centralized IT infrastructure, there are, by one estimate[1], at least 30 billion IoT devices now in the world, and every second, 127 new IoT devices are connected to the internet.  

Photo: Joe McKendrick

Many of these devices aren't dumb. They are increasingly growing sophisticated and intelligent in their own right, housing significant amounts of local code. The catch is that means a lot of software that needs tending. Gartner estimates [2]that right now, 10 percent of enterprise-generated data is created and processed at the edge, and within five years, that figure will reach 75 percent. 

For sensors inside a refrigerator or washing machine, software issues mean inconvenience. Inside automobiles or vehicles, it means trouble. For software running medical devices, it could mean life or death. 

"Code rot" is one source of potential trouble for these devices. There's nothing new about code rot, it's a scourge that has been with us for some time. It happens when the environment surrounding software changes, when software degrades, or as technical debt accumulates as software is loaded down with enhancements or updates.

It can bog down even the most well-designed enterprise systems. However, as increasingly sophisticated code gets deployed at the edges, more attention needs to be paid to IoT devices and highly distributed systems, especially those with critical functions. Jeremy Vaughan, founder of CEO of TauruSeer, recently sounded the alarm[3] on the code running medical edge environments.

Vaughan was spurred into action when the continuous glucose monitor

Read more from our friends at ZDNet

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