Introduction to IoT Gateway

2021-08-03/ By Admin

An IoT gateway is a device/software program that works as a bridge between smart devices, controllers, sensors, and the cloud. The IoT (Internet of Things) gateway is the central point from where all data passes between the cloud and IoT devices. It is also known as the ‘control tier’ or ‘intelligent gateway’. It is playing a key role in hundreds of modern-day devices and rising in popularity every day. Our today’s article is about this technology to help you know what it does, and how does it work. We will also talk about the different important factors to consider while buying intelligent gateways and other relevant information.

What Does the IoT gateway do?

IoT gateways work like network routers that rout data or information between the cloud and IoT devices. The earlier models of gateway devices were capable of only sending one-directional data; from an IoT device towards the cloud. However, the latest gateway devices available on the market support two-directional data flow; both outbound and inbound traffic. Outbound streams are utilized for sending IoT content towards the cloud. On the other hand, inbound traffic streams help in completing several device management chores, like device firmware upgrades.

A few Intelligent Gateways perform more tasks than just routing traffic. An IoT gateway can also preprocess local data on the edge prior to moving it towards the cloud. By doing this, the gateway may aggregate, summarize, or duplicate data to reduce the data volume which has to be sent towards the cloud. It will have a significant impact on network transmission and response time costs. Moreover, Intelligent Gateways can also offer extra security to the information it transports and also to IoT networks.

Organizations and companies can secure their IoT ecosystems by adapting to IoT gateways. They can do this by looking for gateways with features, like encryption, crypto engines, hardware random-number generators, and tamper detection. Such features can provide significant assistance in securing your Intelligent Gateways and shielding single devices from threats. Therefore, Intelligent Gateways have already brought a revolution in the communication world, and it is still spreading its wings.

How Intelligent Gateways Work?

The working of an Intelligent Gateway is a bit tricky to understand, but not so much. It functions very similarly to your WiFi router. The Internet of Things (IoT) system establishes a connection with the gateway device using a wireless connection, such as WiFi. After that, the gateway device routes the data of the Internet of Things device towards the cloud.  However, Internet of Things gateway devices are much more complex, more often, than ordinary WiFi routers.

The key reason why IoT gateway devices are more complex devices than WiFi routers is that an IoT device uses many diverse protocols. Those protocols include, but are not limited to BLE (Bluetooth low-energy), Z-Wave, Zigbee, and BACnet. As such, IoT gateways may need to offer support for various protocols for servicing all IoT devices within the organization. Apart from offering support for these protocols, gateways must also route all types of Internet of Things traffic towards the right destination.

There may be a need to send the data collected from various industrial sensors towards the AWS cloud database. However, the data collected from the security sensors of the building might be sent towards the SaaS vendor, operating the cloud-based portal for security. One more reason why Internet of Things gateways are more complex is that Intelligent Gateway devices may require local data cache if the gateway is receiving abnormally huge data or as a result of the internet outage. Moreover, Intelligent Gateways habitually offer support for failover clustering to support large workloads.

Edge Computing and IoT Gateways

Some Internet of Things devices can produce data in vast quantities. It could turn into a hassle if the organization or company has various devices in their IoT ecosystem. The problem will arrive when they will try to move data or information from all these devices towards the cloud. All Internet of Things devices may deplete the internet bandwidth of the organization. Moreover, it may also become a reason for the large costs of cloud storage.

We can take the help of edge computing to avoid all such problems. Therefore, you can consider edge computing for entire or at least some data processing. We can reduce the data volumes to be moved towards the cloud using this approach. It will ultimately help in reducing both bandwidth consumption and costs.

Assume that the organization or company has a bunch of security cameras that are IoT-enabled. And, all those cameras stream real-time data. It would not make sense to move the entire raw footage of the security towards the cloud to do data processing. It is more crucial if one of the security cameras is monitoring unoccupied areas. Instead of uploading the entire footage of security cameras in real-time, it make sense that you process the footage with edge computing. An edge device will distinguish between the unimportant security footage, such as the empty area footage, and the footage that you actually need.

Edge devices are capable of taking the much-needed footage and move them towards the gateway device. Then, it moves the data towards the cloud. IoT gateway devices are vital to manage and secure IoT devices. Moreover, they may also help organizations and companies to reduce their consumption of IoT-related bandwidth for the internet.

Benefits of Internet of Things Gateways

An IoT Gateway device plays the role of a bridge between the cloud and devices/sensors. Most devices or sensors will communicate with the gateway device, and then the gateway will transmit received information towards the cloud. However, you may have a question that why do we need to use the Internet of Things Gateways between the cloud and sensors or devices. The answer is simple because there are many advantages that you can enjoy by taking this extra step. Here are the benefits of using IoT or Intelligent Gateways.

1. Battery Life

For most IoT systems, battery life is one of the most critical considerations for the users. For instance, take an Internet of Things solution that works in remote areas. To acquire data or information from devices/sensors and move them towards the cloud, we need to have a long-distance connection. Usually, the long-distance connection is the satellite connection. As we all know, greater connectivity section depth and longer distance usually mean more power consumption. Moreover, the costs also increase which turns into a big issue for small devices/sensors that have a limited life of the battery.

For Smart Agriculture, the field sensors must last years rather than just weeks or months. You can use elevated gateways around the grain silo or outbuilding top. This way, the devices or sensors will just have to move data a comparatively less distance towards the gateway. After that, the gateway would move the data towards the cloud server via one higher satellite bandwidth connection. A gateway device enables devices and sensors to send/receive data over smaller distances that boost the life of the battery.

2. Varying Protocols

The complete Internet of Things application may comprise several types of devices and sensors. Here, we will take the Smart Agriculture example again. You may need sensors for moisture, sunlight, and temperature for devices, like automated fertilizer and irrigation systems. All the diverse devices and sensors can utilize different transmission protocols.

Protocols include, but are not limited to Bluetooth, WiFi, Zigbee, and LPWAN, etc. An IoT Gateway can talk to devices and sensors over different protocols, translating acquired data into the standard protocols, like MQTT, to move towards the cloud server.

3. Unfiltered Data

In some cases, devices or sensors may generate a huge amount of data. It may result in extremely increased costs of transmitting and storing data. Moreover, the system would also find it overwhelming. Often in these cases, just a little amount of data is valuable. For instance, there is no need to move the empty room’s security camera footage to the cloud server.

A gateway device can filter the content through pre-processing to minimize the transmission, storage, and processing requirements. We can also employ some other techniques directly on the device or processor to minimize the unfiltered data amount moved towards the gateway device.

4. High Latency

For many IoT applications, time holds significant importance. It is not feasible for the devices or sensors to send data towards the cloud server and waiting for its response prior to taking action. We can avoid higher latency through data processing on a gateway device. Or, we can do the same on a sensor itself through local commands. However, various devices and sensors in the Internet of Things applications are extremely power constrained and small.

Therefore, it would not be a possibility for such devices or sensors. An IoT Gateway can minimize the latency issue in applications that are time-critical by doing processing directly on the Internet of Things gateway device itself.

5. Security

Today, every single internet-connected device and/or sensor is susceptible to hacking. We all can understand how harsh the results can be if the hacking of a device occurs. It would not only be harmful to the owner but others too who are directly or indirectly in link with the device. A gateway minimizes the internet-connected devices and sensors number since the devices and sensors are only linked with the gateway. However, the gateway itself may become a target, but it would also be the source of defense. It is why the security of any gateway holds immense importance.

For the above-discussed benefits, the Internet of Things Gateways has become a popular choice in various applications.

Use-Case Scenarios of IoT Gateways

There are so many real-use case situations where the Internet of Things Gateway devices are used. These gateways provide protected communication in the industrial OT and IT domains. Internet of Things can assist the container shipping industry via tracking every single container and also enhancing their security level. However, one challenging thing is that these containers are normally situated around the temperature-wide and wet areas. Therefore, there is a need to design an IoT Gateway for this specific industry. The gateway must ensure low consumption of power, security capabilities, operability in extreme environments, and higher processing performance.

IoT gateway

Some of the Internet of Things use cases in different industries are:

  • Precision farming
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Manufacturing operations
  • Oil and gas
  • Building management
  • Asset tracking
  • Smart building
  • Smart grid

IoT by now is known to be the most significant technology that is helping different industries with its unparalleled benefits. The technology is expected to bring a new revolution in many industries with more innovations, enhanced security, and reliable communication.

Things to Know Before Choosing IoT Gateways

To choose the most appropriate IoT gateway for your project, it is important to consider various key factors. There is no simple rule to choose one, but you have to make your choice between your preferences and tradeoffs. Therefore, it is also essential to know every aspect of your project before you start looking for the gateway.

The key factors to consider when looking for an Intelligent Gateway include:

  • Radio technology
  • Operating temperature
  • Local connectivity and ports
  • AC power, DC power, or PoE
  • Input and output ports
  • Device management features
  • Network redundancy
  • Bridge gateway or router mode

Before you choose any gateway to kick off your Internet of Things journey, you must consider the above-listed factors.

Conclusion

Not all Internet of Things applications require a gateway. However, gateways are an essential part of the hardware that is usually a necessity for specific applications since they play a necessary part to connect devices and sensors to the cloud server. Since an IoT Gateway offers numerous benefits, so it is an ideal communication device for thousands of devices in different industries. To make sure you get the best results from your Intelligent Gateway, you must choose the right device according to your project. You can choose the most appropriate gateway by considering all the important factors we discussed in this article.

Feel free to get in touch with our experts to get more information about the gateways by clicking here.

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