Is Linux IoT a potential big new market for EUC vendors?

As EUC vendors look to make the jump into IoT, Linux is a popular option thanks to its lightweight nature.

Every so often, we like to check in on the Internet of Things. While it hasn’t heavily impacted EUC yet, IoT might eventually and it’s always good to understand what’s going on.

One thing we’re seeing now is how Linux for IoT is clearly a big trend, with several well-known vendors developing Linux IoT operating systems. A 2018 survey from earlier this year found that it dominates IoT, with about 72% using Linux-based OSes.

This could have an effect on players big and small in our space, so let’s take a look at what’s going on.

Linux IoT OS examples popping up in our industry

Several big software vendors have released Linux-based OSes for IoT. Microsoft, which already offers a Windows-based option, announced Azure Sphere in April 2018. Companies get a full stack that includes the OS, Azure management, and a design and certification program for microcontrollers. It remains in preview, but you can purchase a development kit.

Another large company offering a Linux IoT OS is Intel with Clear Linux. The Linux-based OS remains open source and features rolling updates--but requires Intel 64-bit architecture that supports UEFI and SSE 4.1 to run. Some Intel processors that can run Clear Linux include Xeon Processors E3, E5, E7 and Atom C2000 (Q3 2013 or newer) and E3800 (Q4 2013 or newer).

Some smaller players also have seen an opportunity and developed their own Linux IoT OS. One is Stratodesk with NoTouch IoT, which works on ARM or x86 architecture, and is based on their NoTouch OS. NoTouch OS is included as part of the Citrix Workspace Hub and can run on the Pi Zero, too.

What makes this so interesting is that the total addressable market for Linux on IoT has got to be a lot bigger than the market for Linux on desktop virtualization clients.

Another smaller vendor we’re curious about is IGEL. While they haven’t made any big IoT forays yet, they’ve talked about it before. They had sessions at Disrupt 2018, where Brian himself spoke on it. IGEL supports the Windows 10 IoT Enterprise Platform, which landed them on the CRN Internet of Things 50 List for 2018. Additionally, Gabe wrote that Doug Brown’s introductory blog post (which doesn’t appear to be live anymore) mentioned IoT, which made Gabe believe that IGEL would move into the field eventually. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for any news on that front.

Closing thoughts

It’s easy to see why vendors are drawn to Linux. It’s open source, lightweight, and easy to update and manage. Some vendors provide rolling updates, making it easier to keep IoT devices current and secure.

That said, Linux IoT OSes aren’t organizations’ only option. Microsoft has offered Windows 10 for IoT for several years now, with it capable of running on the Raspberry Pi, as well as Intel Atom-based devices. Google also offers their own Android-based OS called Android Things (codenamed Brillo). Amazon acquired FreeRTOS, which has led to an increase in its popularity. Overall, Linux-based OSes remain the most popular and well-known option for companies looking to manage their IoT devices.

We’re still a long way from knowing how IoT and EUC will shake out, but since it’s adjacent and there’s likely to be crossover in many ways, we’re going to keep our eye on it.

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