How to Remotely Update Raspberry Pis or IoT Devices with OTA?

The Internet of Things concept is swarming the top tech industry worldwide and is estimated to comprise 41 billion connected devices globally by 2025. With such a large number of connected devices having access to the Internet via different means like 4G, LoRa gateways, and Wi-Fi, it is important to update the files and software on Raspberry Pis or IoT devices so that the existing IoT devices are not replaced by a new version that comes into the market. IoT updates will not only help improve the existing features and functionality of devices, like bug fixes and security threats but will also help add new software features. There are two ways to update Raspberry Pis or IoT devices:

  • Physical update and
  • Remote or over-the-air update

However, updating all Raspberry Pis or IoT devices in a system can seem to be a complex task since it requires a proper updating process to guarantee the resilience and integrity of the system during as well as after the deployment. Therefore, IoT update management is essential.

What is IoT OTA update management?

IoT OTA update management is managing the complete IoT fleet by updating the smart devices to keep the software and firmware well-updated, adding new software features, increasing the system's security features, and fixing bugs. Usually, OTA or over-the-air method is used to transfer the updates to the IoT fleet. A prime benefit of this method is that you can transfer updates from a central platform to other Raspberry Pis or IoT devices without any physical access. Another way to update devices is to download them from the cloud directly. The choice of the update depends on the kind of system, the security requirements, the IoT system infrastructure, etc.

IoT OTA update management process

One main challenge in the IoT update management process is building the updating process, as this process is unique for each system. The best practices for the IoT update process will make your system more robust.

  • Analyze your Raspberry Pis or IoT devices and incorporate an update process according to their specificity.
  • You should have a clear picture of your devices; for this, you can count the number of connected devices in the IoT fleet and then use the IoT management platform for its specific purpose. You can also choose the OTA update method if your IoT devices are widespread in markets. You can make small updates to fix bugs or make a new release of firmware and software. Some types of updates can be complex, especially with major security threats. For such critical updates, you can establish an emergency update process. You can also choose between a manual or automatic method to installing updates. For the industrial IoT fleet, automatic download and installation of updates will be better, and for personal IoT devices manual option will be better.

  • Creating a backup and recovery procedure
  • Always create a backup to restore the configuration files to the earlier point in case software or firmware fails after the update installation. The firmware and software can fail because of several reasons, like software incompatibility, data corruption, human error, or virus during the update deployment. The recovery process must be embedded into the software or firmware so that your IoT device can deploy the earlier trusted configuration in case of failure.

  • Testing the devices before deployment
  • A critical step in the process of IoT update management is testing all the updates and patches before deployment. You can define a test group of your IoT devices and deploy the updates. Check if the devices are installed successfully without errors. Run tests help understand the update's impact on IoT device performance. Check the accuracy of the work of the installed programs and applications. Then delete all the patches and ensure that the system is working stably.

  • If the update installation is interrupted, then test the case
  • There can be chances of interruptions at the time of update deployment. This can be because the device runs out of battery at installation, low bandwidth interrupts the downloading process, and there is an unstable Internet connection. To test the resilience, you can deploy the updates to the test group, then interrupt the updating process at the time of downloading or installation by aborting the Internet connectivity. In such cases, the device must complete the updating process or load an old image of the system.

  • Scheduling and planning the fleet update deployment
  • Deploy the IoT update when devices have a minimum load and take the bandwidth of the network into consideration. Manual update is preferable for personal devices, while for industrial IoT systems, automatic update is preferable. All people who use and interact with the IoT fleet must understand that IoT devices will be out of use during the update deployment, and sensors will stop collecting data.

  • Divide the IoT fleet into two different groups
  • If an IoT fleet consists of several IoT devices that differ in software, hardware, firmware, and version, then updates must be deployed to the specific group of devices with similar characteristics. Adhering to this practice helps fix bugs compared to when all IoT devices in the fleet are updated at once. A gradual update deployment is a better step toward avoiding risk.

  • Deployment of updates
  • After all the preparations have taken place, it is time to begin the deployment procedure. Check the status after all the updates are installed successfully to one group of IoT devices. If the group of devices works properly and updates do not cause any problems, then you are good to go for another group of devices.

  • logging errors and collecting feedback
  • IoT devices must log all the errors continuously, and people working with IoT devices must give feedback or contact support if anything goes wrong.

Remote OTA update for IoT devices and Raspberry Pi

As IoT technology is constantly evolving, it is important for IT administrators to plan for IoT devices and Raspberry Pi device updates. Vendors can also release fixes and updates to the software, device controllers, or firmware at any time; therefore, IT administrators must plan for them in advance. Even though IoT deployments take place in a white assortment of verticals, IoT devices do not have a safe and secure updating mechanism. This is where remote IoT comes into the picture as it provides OTA or over-the-air updates and remotely updates the firmware, controller device, or software of the connected Internet of thing devices. This eventually saves both effort and time of the IT staff since they can update several devices at one go. With the help of remote IoT, you can upload your app to any device within the web-based management console. No matter how many devices you have, you can update your app easily across multiple devices with just one click.

What are the key benefits of a Remote IoT update?
  • Effective campaign planning technology
  • Save execution by getting the software's authenticity
  • Single-click software update across multiple fleets of devices
  • Flexible and efficient pay as you grow model
  • Incremental FOTA strategy helps in saving cost, energy, and time

Remote IoT update is quite useful as you can update your fleet irrespective of what industry or location you are presently in. A great feature of remote IoT update is that it helps keep the overall operation cost low while ensuring secure, maintained, and up-to-date distributed global devices.