Open Source Program Improves IoT Connection Security with Unikernels
Michael Alba posted on May 30, 2016 |
UniK is a new open source tool that will allow developers to bring the advantages of unikernels to their IoT applications. (Image courtesy of EMC.)

UniK is a new open source tool that will allow developers to bring the advantages of unikernels to their IoT applications. (Image courtesy of EMC.)

EMC Corporation recently announced UniK (pronounced unique), a unikernel orchestration tool that will enable Internet of Things (IoT) developers to deploy applications more efficiently. What’s more, UniK is being released as an open source project to accelerate its adoption and encourage collaboration.

A UniK Approach to IoT Applications

Developers will be able to use UniK to bring the advantages of unikernel functionality to their IoT applications. These advantages include decreasing the footprint of the application and reducing security risks. UniK also aims to simplify application deployment with a REST API, allowing integration into application platforms and easy unikernel development.

UniK’s key features include:

  • Integration with multiple back-end open source platforms for application deployment
  • Application efficiency and security on IoT devices
  • Easy development and operation of unikernel applications
  • Support for hypervisors running both locally and in data centers
  • Support for several hypervisor and cloud providers

Using Unikernels for a Smaller Footprint

Unikernels are specialized machine images that are created to run a specific application. To do so they employ the smallest subset of code necessary to run the application, stripping out all superfluous parts of the traditional operating system (OS). Unikernels can be deployed on hypervisors, cloud platforms, and embedded devices.

Using the bare minimum of code offers several advantages, the most obvious being the reduced footprint of the application. This also translates to faster boot times and a smaller attack surface for improved security. These efficiencies make unikernels a good fit for running applications on IoT devices.

“Unikernels are completely self-contained, have fewer layers of code and are much simpler to reason about,” says John Roese, chief technology officer of EMC Corporation. “With unikernels picking up steam in the community…developers are seeking to capture benefits that include lighter weight code stacks and a reduced surface area for security intrusions—particularly important for developing apps in the cloud and for IoT devices.”

Developers can find UniK on Github. To learn more about increasing IoT security, check out 12 Tips to Convince Users Their IoT System Is Secure.

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