Toshiba intends to solve two important problems with the operation of a large number of devices. The word "devices" here refers to computing devices such as smart meters, digital signage, subway gates, air conditioners, or IoT devices for example. The word "operation" refers to the multiple tasks that a "device operator" needs to do to remotely maintain a group of devices. These tasks include status monitoring, rebooting, power control, applying software updates or updating specific settings in those devices.
The first problem that we want to address is caused by the use of closed software. Companies or departments that need to operate devices of a specific type (e.g.: a printer, a POS device, or an air conditioner) often create or order a software stack to operate those particular devices. The end result consists of a non-generic stack that cannot be shared across companies or departments causing duplicated costs. Additionally, creating such systems is not an easy task. For that reason, most software stacks lack functionality and advanced security features. To address this problem, the architecture and software stack created during this Fellowship will be made in collaboration with the open source community.
The second problem is more technical and refers to the increasing amount of devices that operators need to supervise. This large number of devices requires visualization tools and scalable software that is not possible with current approaches. The Fellow will investigate how to address the challenges of operating large amounts of devices.
Part of this Fellowship will consist of investigating open source software stacks written for cloud infrastructure, and evaluating the feasibility of reusing similar concepts to operate large numbers of devices. Unfortunately, cloud infrastructure relies on assumptions that do not always apply to device operation infrastructure. For example, in contrast to cloud virtual machines or containers, end devices are usually placed behind security firewalls or gateways, and therefore direct access from the operator is not always possible. Some of the most popular cloud software such as Ansible or Kubernetes rely on that.
For that reason, the Fellow will need to investigate and adapt concepts from cloud infrastructure to requirements of device operation infrastructure such as indirect or polling-based access.
The researcher will participate in the design of the interfaces and protocols required by each component in the architecture in close contact with the open source community, and will also work on a prototype to validate and evaluate the feasibility of the architecture.
Knowledge and Skills Required
Candidates should have knowledge or deep interest in these topics:
- IoT systems
- Distributed software and networks
- Open source and open collaboration
- Linux user experience
 "How do you update your embedded Linux devices?". LinuxCon Japan, July 14th, 2016. https://events.static.linuxfound.org/sites/events/files/slides/linuxcon-japan-2016-softwre-updates-sangorrin.pdf
 "Kernel security hacking for the Internet of Things", LinuxCon Japan, June 3rd, 2015, https://events.static.linuxfound.org/sites/events/files/slides/linuxcon-2015-daniel-sangorrin-final.pdf