What is an edge computing IoT gateway? It’s a computer that sits on the edge of a network close to IoT devices for the purpose of collecting data. It might consolidate, filter, analyze and/or perform computational tasks on the data before sending it to the cloud. The proximity of the gateway to the data source is good for latency and efficiency and it reduces traffic on the network.
How have gateways evolved to get to this point and meet industrial and IoT requirements?
IoT Gateways – A Brief History
There was a time when a gateway was exactly what the term implies – a simple passage linking two networks and allowing bits of data to flow from one to the other. As the number of networks increased and the nature of traffic over them grew more complex and vital, the role of a gateway has expanded. Consequently, the requirements for a gateway device have also evolved.
Today, there are a hug variety of gateways that integrate many functions into a single device or package. There are simple routers that connect local networks to the Internet, and firewalls that inspect and filter inbound and outbound traffic to secure against threats. XML and SOA gateways are two examples of common hardware plus software implementations used for processing business data. Meanwhile security gateways offer robust authentication services and content filtering. An industrial edge IoT gateway is an intelligent central hub for IoT devices designed to survive at the edge where other computers might fail.
The Role of an Edge Computing IoT Gateway
The role of IoT gateways is expanding with the continued growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). In fact, by 2027, it is projected that there will be more than 41 billion IoT devices. That is up from 8 billion in 2019. That includes everything from security cameras and factory monitoring equipment, to vehicle telemetry and medical devices.
All of these devices produce large amounts of data and place real demands on network communication infrastructure. These demands can be even more extreme in remote and mobile environments.
IoT gateways provide the glue that enable communication between IoT devices, their operators, and the cloud. They provide a way to gather, manage, process and access data before it’s passed to other devices, networks or storage architectures. By using IoT gateways, administrators are able to gain control over where and how data is stored and processed.
IoT, and the similarly expanding Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), has helped drive uptake of gateways in the industrial space. From factory floors to rail yards, the number and type of devices gathering and transacting data grows every day. Industrial gateways designed for the edge are hardened against the demands of remote and rugged environments. They offer fanless cooling and ventless chassis designs that resist temperature extremes, vibration and dust.
Engineers often deploy an edge computing IoT gateway to add intelligence to legacy systems. These legacy systems are frequently never designed to connect to the cloud. A rolling machine in a steel plant, for instance, can pass its raw material usage data to a gateway. The gateway is then able to either pass the data onto a local control room, or process the data to the cloud.
Identifying the Correct Gateway for your Application
As the demands for on-site and remote computing continue to grow, IoT gateway infrastructure will need to expand in kind. Ongoing conversations about standardizing IoT protocols will help ensure continuous optimization and efficient interoperability. However, identifying and employing the right hardware solution for the job will ensure the continued success of any IoT project.
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Originally posted on October 3, 2017, it was updated for content on October 17, 2022.