“Aging is mostly the failure to repair.” – Gregory Benford
Constant feature updates aren’t just a nuisance for consumers. They’re a pain for developers, too. Who wants to be stuck with the job of updating every device in the field? Nobody, that’s who. Let’s make the new guy do it.
The programmers at Foundries.io have been there and done that. They learned first-hand what a lot of us discovered: that having a successful product is a double-edged sword. Yes, it’s great that you’re selling and shipping lots of product. But every box that goes out the door also means one more unit that’ll need to be updated eventually, perhaps several times. The more you sell, the more you have to support.
It’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.
Even if you’re not planning to offer any field upgrades, security concerns often mean you need to do it anyway. “Security is an arm race,” says CTO Tyler Baker, “and the most secure software is the latest software.” In short, you’re probably gonna need to update your products whether you intended to or not.
That necessity creates busywork for somebody. Somebody has to organize and send out the updates, and make sure everyone got theirs, and make sure none of the updates failed, and make sure all the deployed hardware is compatible. Yuck. That’s not a job that looks good on the resume, nor is it a way to motivate your employees.
It gets worse. You (or your employer) might be legally responsible for sending updates, or risk getting sued. If you’re able to send out security updates and don’t do it promptly, you might be liable. So, on top of the technical challenges of updating everyone in the field, now you’ve got Legal breathing down your neck to get it done tout suite. Gee, this is swell.
How do I opt out of this rat race?
For a nominal fee, Foundries.io will handle most of this work for you. Or at least, they’ll provide you the tools to make it less painful. They call it FoundriesFactory, and it’s a combination of software and a service contract. For a flat monthly rate, the company provides a development workspace, called a factory, and an OTA (over-the-air) update service to squirt updates to every subscribed device out in the field. The company handles revision matching, making sure the right updates go to the right devices.
Although security updates are the primary focus, there’s no reason FoundriesFactory can’t handle voluntary feature updates, too. The mechanism is the same either way.
Interestingly, Foundries.io charges the same flat monthly fee regardless of the number of devices you’re updating. There are three pricing levels: Community, Personal, and Enterprise. Community-level access is free, but you’re reliant on community documentation and support. It’s the open-source teaser level. The Personal tier costs $10/month but limits you to ten devices in the field. The deluxe Enterprise level is 500× more expensive at $5000/month but allows an unlimited number of devices and revisions. Startups get a big 50% discount that might soften the blow if they can’t quite swing the $50K/year price tag.
Automating mundane tasks is what computers are all about, so automating computer updates is a nice circle-of-life example of applying technology to itself. Sending out updates is nobody’s favorite job, so why not let the new guy do it?