With the emergence and growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), billions of connected devices are expected to enter the world. Amidst this process, experts identify the IoT Gateway as one of the most critical components of future IoT systems. By simple definition, an IoT gateway could be categorized as a device that aggregates sensor data, translates sensor protocols, processes sensor data, and more.
But the Internet of Things is about more than just sensing, it’s also about controlling various systems. IoT devices may also use different protocols to form connections; it could be Wi-Fi-based, via Bluetooth, ethernet, serial ports, Zigbee, and more.
Now, each of them may possess different models of management, security, or connect to different control environments. But having the components connect individually to the systems that require their data, it is often not possible. In fact, some edge devices generate data in abundance, enough to make it invaluable in its raw form. This is where we pull in IoT gateways.
Designed to perform several critical functions, IoT Gateways manage device connectivity, data filtering, processing, protocol translation, and security, among many others. Some of the newer gateways also function as platforms for application code by processing data, thereby becoming an intelligent part of edge-enabled device systems. These devices sit at the intersection of the cloud and edge systems.
It’s perhaps easier to explain the importance of it via an example, maybe an IoT-connected building or house environment. The foundation of such an architecture lies in its sensors, numbered in the hundreds or thousands, with an array of functionalities – measuring light, temperature, equipment, noise, or particles in the air, among many others; some add to building security or operation systems also.
But sensors generate hundreds of thousands of data points every second; the gateway offers a place to preprocess data – locally, at the edge, before sending it to the cloud. In a nutshell, the approach minimizes the volume of data pushed to the cloud by summarizing, aggregating, and tactically analyzing information at the edge. The impact on this process is huge given the astronomical decrease on network transmission costs and response times.
IoT Edge Gateway: Position in the IoT Ecosystem
Traditional gateways have often been restricted to device management and protocol translation functions. They were far from intelligent, being unprogrammable and unable to perform in-depth and complex processing on IoT data. But next-generation gateways hold the key to push processing closer to the edge; they support new operating models, even.
The newer gateways are intelligent, with onboard processing that filters through routine information to pass what’s important. They’re also able to perform analytics and operations on data, using said insights to take independent action. With just this much, the benefits of having a fully manageable and programmable platform in line with the IoT devices they support is clear.
In the end, as IoT networks proliferate and functionalities expand, the demand for IoT gateways and their capabilities are only bound to increase.
IoT Edge Gateway: Bridging the IT-Operations Gap
From an operations perspective, the focus lies in delivering business capability; when covering IT, the focus hinges on becoming concerned with the integrity and security of the networks. To bridge this gap, an IoT gateway is expected to support the following functionalities:
1. Storage & Analysis: To drive intelligence and decision-making.
2. Protocol and Data Bridging: To translate and transfer data between systems operating with different forms of data formats and communication protocols, including multidirectional communication capabilities.
3. Management: To update, provision, and control access of connected devices.
4. Trusted Security: To enable the integrity of the system and network, in both directions.
It’s said that IoT implementers were 2.5 times more likely to succeed with gateways than those without it; the only question remaining is around which category you fall into – a simple, yet clear line to identifying success.
About the Author
Gurusidhesh heads the Networking Practice at Global Edge Software Limited. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.