Why is Rust an ideal programming language for your next IoT project?

As time passes by, IoT applications are getting more complex, and their performance requirements are more demanding. It’s best to tackle this by implementing a low-level programming language. Rust has quickly become a go-to IoT programming language because it’s extremely powerful and secure. 

You can see for yourself how Rust is different from other more common languages in Yalantis’s blog post. Among its many benefits, Rust is structured, memory safe, and built for safety without sacrificing performance. In this article, you’ll learn why Rust is a great option to develop high-performance IoT applications, capable of processing large datasets.  

Specifics of IoT software development

The Internet of Things is a dynamic and constantly evolving technology that is changing the way people live and work. The global IoT market is forecasted to reach a whopping $5,27 billion in 2023, according to Statista. This rapid growth caused an increased demand for developers who can create innovative applications using diverse IoT technologies.

IoT software development requires knowledge of various programming languages and frameworks, including JavaScript and NodeJS, Python, Go, C++, Java, etc. In addition, developers must have experience with IoT hardware such as sensors and wireless communication protocols such as ZigBee or Bluetooth LE (Low Energy).

Another important skill for IoT developers is understanding various data storage systems (SQL databases) and cloud computing platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The main thing that distinguishes IoT software from traditional applications is that it’s built on top of the hardware. Therefore, developers must understand how hardware works in order to create an efficient application that performs well in real-life scenarios. For example, it’s important for them to know how long it takes for data packets to reach their destination through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth LE wireless networks — this way they can optimize the flow. 

So, which language is better for IoT? The Rust programming language is one of the technologies that work perfectly with hardware components of IoT infrastructure. But Rust is only a part of the big picture and can’t become a holistic solution to all IoT-associated issues. But it can ensure better application performance as compared to say Python.

What makes Rust a perfect fit for an IoT project

The IoT environment is evolving rapidly and seeping into more and more business domains. If industrial IoT has been in the game for a long time already, the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare R&D are only on their way to reaping the benefits of this technology. And as the amount of processed data will only be growing with the increasing number of IoT initiatives. Rust can be a great choice to meet the challenges of the rapidly expanding IoT environment.

Here is why you should consider Rust for IoT projects. Rust’s memory safety makes it easier to quickly write reliable and relatively bug-free code which boasts better security in the long run and minimizes cases of IoT data corruption. 

The Rust compiler catches memory errors before they happen, which means you don’t have to worry about buffer overflows, use-after-free bugs, double frees, or any other typical memory-related issues. And because Rust is statically typed, the compiler can catch a lot of other problems at compile time. Rather than when the program runs, saving the IoT system from unexpected crashes in the production environment.

Rust programs run fast. The LLVM compiler infrastructure that powers Rust’s compiler borrows from decades of research into how to optimize code for maximum performance. Rust doesn’t require an expensive just-in-time (JIT) compilation step after every compilation phase as interpreted languages do (Python or Ruby). Instead, Rust code compiles down to native machine code that runs as fast as C++ would if written by a skilled programmer.

Rust has good tooling support for embedded development, including support for cross-compilation with all major embedded platforms and operating systems (such as Linux real-time kernels).

The combination of all Rust benefits makes this language a real breakthrough that can take the IoT to new level.

Types of IoT solutions to develop in Rust

The IoT world is about connecting diverse devices to the internet, but this fact doesn’t make all IoT software equal. There are some types of IoT solutions that could benefit the most from Rust implementation.

1. High-performance, low-latency systems. This includes anything from industrial control systems to autonomous vehicles and robotics. In these cases, characteristics of the Rust development for IoT performance can be a big advantage over C or other languages without sacrificing safety or reliability. Rust’s zero-cost abstractions mean you can write less code while getting better performance than other systems languages; this means that you can reduce development time while still delivering a high-quality product with minimal cost to your users.

2. Embedded systems with limited resources (RAM/CPU). Rust’s memory safety and performance characteristics make it ideal for embedded devices with limited memory and processing power. The language provides support for writing device drivers in a type-safe manner. This means you can write code that will work with any hardware device supported by your operating system (Linux, Windows) — even if you don’t have access to its source code or documentation.

Many IoT devices run on embedded Linux platforms such as ARM or MIPS processors. Rust has been built from the ground up to work on these platforms and can help developers get their code running on them without having to worry about cross-compilation issues or other problems that come up when using C/C++ programs.

3. Highly concurrent systems with high throughput requirements (e.g., networking stacks). Rust’s ownership model makes it easy to reason about concurrency while still allowing for high throughput and low latency across multiple cores or threads.

This list, of course, isn’t exhaustive and can be prolonged. Even if your particular use case isn’t here, it doesn’t mean you should give up the thought of using Rust. Focus on your business needs and find your unique reasons to adopt this language.

How to release a successful Rust IoT project and not lose a fortune

The best recommendation to ensure a successful IoT project when you’re beginning with using Rust is to start small and don’t rush the process. Take your time to hire truly qualified and experienced mid- or senior Rust developers if you don’t want to deal with costly workarounds as a result of partnering with an unqualified development team. Here are our practical pro tips you should consider before starting with your Rust IoT project:

  • Create a simple Rust IoT project with limited functionality to first test the powers of this language
  • Choose the suitable Rust library and a development framework to meet  your needs and simplify work for your technical team
  • Find out how much RAM and CPU power your IoT devices have to come up with an efficient strategy to implement Rust
  • Learn from similar projects so that not to waste time-solving common development issues

With a gradual and reasonable approach, you’ll be able to launch your IoT project in Rust quickly and with the best possible first results. You shouldn’t risk too much and put everything at stake for your Rust project to win the market right away. Your first attempts should be aimed at simply carefully evaluating how feasible and appropriate is Rust for your particular business use case. Entrust this task to the expert software development team and success will not be long in coming. 

I have 7 years of experience as a freelance technical writer, specializing in content related to IT technologies, programming and UI/UX design. Holder of a Master's degree in Journalism and Public Relations. Also I completed design and programming courses in "UI / UX design", iOS and Python in Mansfield, OH. And have been already learning Rust programming language for a year.