An operating system (OS) is essentially the brain and central nervous system of any computing system, whether a laptop, server, smartphone, or any other connected device. The OS manages all of a system’s hardware and software and allocates all resources, including processing, memory, and storage. Operating systems come in both commercial and open source varieties. An IoT operating system is an OS designed for the particular demands and specifications of IoT devices and applications. Often called an embedded OS, an IoT OS is critical to connectivity, security, networking, storage, remote device management, and other IoT system needs. Some IoT operating systems also have real-time processing capabilities and are referred to as real-time operating systems, or RTOS.
Hardware and software cannot function properly without an underlying OS. A computer without an OS is akin to car without an engine—it simply won’t run. The same is true for IoT devices and applications; an IoT OS is necessary for them to work as intended. An IoT OS enables devices and applications to connect with each other and other systems, such as cloud platforms and services. The IoT OS also manages the processing power and other resources needed to collect, transmit, and store data.