Did you know Arm has an Internet-of-Things cloud? Not anymore. Wants to offload it to Softbank

Microprocessor core designer says it just wants to focus on designing microprocessor cores


Arm today said it hopes to transfer its Internet-of-Things management cloud to its owner Softbank so that the chip designer can focus on its primarily function – designing chips.

Specifically, Arm proposed spinning off its Pelion IoT Platform and Treasure Data businesses, part of its IoT Services Group, as separate entities owned by Softbank, taking the divisions off Arm's hands.

Arm's open-source Mbed operating system for IoT gadgets and other embedded electronics will stay with the chip architects, and we're assured there won't be any interruption in service for those relying on the Pelion cloud. No chip blueprints will be transferred if the proposal goes ahead: just the ISG businesses.

"We are proposing to transfer ownership of the two ISG businesses – Pelion IoT Platform and Treasure Data – to SoftBank," a spokesperson told The Register. "Mbed OS however will remain with Arm. There will be no disruption or discontinuation in services."

Some six years ago, Arm decided it had to do something about the state of security with network-connected Internet-of-Things gear, a lot of which was powered by the microprocessor cores it had designed and licensed to manufacturers. Too much equipment was shipping with minimal or no security mechanisms, leaving punters open to attack from miscreants.

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So Arm came up with Mbed OS that ensured data moving in and out of devices was encrypted, firmware updates were properly secured and distributed, and other security mechanisms were baked in, if possible. This software was available for manufacturers to power their kit.

As if that effort wasn't ambitious enough, Arm decided two years later, in 2016, that it needed to do more than offer this code to hardware makers – to encourage adoption of its technology, it had to provide its own backend that customers could use to remotely manage connected devices. Thus, Mbed Cloud was born.

This platform could authenticate and provision machines, push firmware updates to equipment, funnel data securely to and from applications running on other cloud services, and so on. That was also the same year Softbank acquired Arm for $32bn.

Two years after that, in 2018, Arm bought a bunch of companies, including enterprise data wrangler Treasure Data, fused them with Mbed Cloud, and rebranded the whole shebang as the Pelion IoT Platform. Months later, Arm's Pelion team collaborated with Intel to help boost enterprise IoT security.

If you're wondering what on Earth Arm, which is relatively small in terms of staff, was doing trying to run a software-as-a-service operation to manage devices remotely, when it is best known for designing the CPU and GPU cores in countless phones, tablets, servers, network-connected and embedded hardware, and other gear, all amid rumors of an IPO, you were probably not the only one.

Arm CEO Simon Segars said in a statement:

SoftBank’s experience in managing fast-growing, early-stage businesses would enable ISG to maximize its value in capturing the data opportunity. Arm would be in a stronger position to innovate in our core IP roadmap and provide our partners with greater support to capture the expanding opportunities for compute solutions across a range of markets.

We'll try to translate that for you. Everyone was yelling at Arm to put down the enterprise cloud platform, and start shipping cores that can trounce Apple's Arm-compatible designs – in mobile and on the desktop – and also do something about those RISC-V upstarts.

The transfer is, we're reminded, subject to board and regulatory approval. It's hoped the handover will occur by the end of September. ®

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