Delta updates now standard on all new balenaCloud IoT devices

Updating IoT devices in the field presents fleet owners with the dual challenges of pushing out binaries over minimal network bandwidth connections and reducing downtime while changes are applied. balenaCloud’s newly enabled deltas by default feature tackles both problems by automatically delivering lightweight changes that can be applied to any device quickly and reliably.

Delta updates now standard on all new balenaCloud IoT devices

Though we’ve offered delta updates for several years, we’ve steadily made infrastructure improvements — including “build-time” deltas — that make us confident to enable them by default on all devices running at least balenaOS 2.47.1.

What are deltas?

Applications running on balenaCloud-managed devices already limit the size of application updates by taking advantage of containers, discrete application elements that can be updated independently. Deltas update only the container layers that change and intelligently determine what needs to be changed and what doesn’t.

Delta updates now standard on all new balenaCloud IoT devices

When enabled, deltas can shrink initial application binaries by more than 65 percent and allow IoT devices to use 10 to 70 times less bandwidth than a standard layer-based Docker pull. That means balenaCloud-managed devices can get reliable updates quickly with dramatically reduced downtown, regardless of whether you have hundreds of devices or thousands attached to limited wifi or cellular networks.

Delta updates now standard on all new balenaCloud IoT devices

At the same time, balenaCloud deltas reduce RAM and storage overhead, performing atomic updates during image pulls that are fast and reliable.

How does this feature work?

These capabilities work seamlessly with your existing container build workflows; balenaCloud deltas are generated at build-time, so there’s nothing you need to do differently. You can still take advantage of your regular build cycles, but without the added worry of overtaxing your IoT device’s limited network and memory, or page-cache thrashing and disk-writing that can shorten the life of onboard storage. If for any reason you don’t want to enable delta updates, you can turn them off in the dashboard.

How to use Deltas today

Delta updates are enabled by default in all new versions of balenaOS, so you can take advantage of these capabilities immediately. For existing devices running older OS versions, you can enable deltas for individual devices or fleetwide right from the balenaCloud dashboard. Any device updated to at least balenaOS 2.47.1 will have it enabled by default.

If you’re looking to speed up IoT application builds and make them more reliable over low-bandwidth networks, try balenaCloud today.