A Comprehensive Checklist for Evaluating an Off-the-Shelf IoT Gateway Solution
‘Internet of Things’ has ushered in an era where every organization is moving towards IoT-powered automation. This has resulted in many big players to introduce their range of IoT gateways and other IoT components.
Today, there are some really innovative IoT Gateway solutions available off-the-shelf. These IoT Gateway devices, launched by popular brands like Dell, Intel, HP, Cisco and more, are loaded with necessary features and functionalities.
This means that as a procurement manager or a business owner, who wants to make the system and processes IoT enabled, you are spoilt for choices! To overcome this dilemma, you need to look inwards.
It’s good to start by asking a few question to your IoT expert. What are the connectivity protocols your project requires? What about the environmental conditions your gateway will be exposed to? What are the security requirements? and so on.
Your IoT project requirements and business use-case will have direct influence on your choice of the off-the-shelf IoT Gateway solution.
Please note that your IoT use-case may also require you to completely ditch the off-the-shelf option and partner with an IoT gateway development vendor for a custom-made solution.
However, in this blog we will only focus on the off-the-shelf IoT Gateway solutions. We will highlight some important factors that are critical for selecting the best off-the-shelf IoT gateway for your automation project.
Key Functionalities to Look Out for, in an IoT Gateway Solution
An IoT gateway must have certain features that are critical in making your system and process automation IoT enabled.
A few of them are:
- Support for Multiple connectivity protocols like Zigbee, 6lowpan, Wi-FI, Bluetooth, Ethernet and more
- Secure communication, with built-in and robust encryption, user authorization and authentication processes, tamper detection and more
- An IoT Gateway solution that is Hardware/Operating system agnostic and scalable
- Support for data storage in gateway, to recover from a communication failure
- Optional advanced features such as EDGE Computing, data filtering, configurable data rules, analytics and more.
- Automatic device discovery along with device verification and authorization features.
In addition to these basic functionalities, there are certain specific factors that need to be considered while choosing the IoT gateway device.
The next section delves a little deeper. So brace yourself for the ultimate IoT gateway checklist coming your way!
8 Critical Factors to Help You Pick the Perfect IoT Gateway Device
The most suitable IoT Gateway development, configuration and specifications will completely depend on your IoT projects use-case and industry application (as mentioned before).
Your IoT project use-case will have a say on factors like number of IoT sensor nodes or IoT devices that need to be connected to the gateway at a given time, local storage required, packet data size and more.
We will evaluate the following factors on the basis of some real world IoT use-cases and eventually share with you an approach that will help you to take the right decision
- Array of Connectivity OptionsConnectivity is at the core of any successful IoT project implementation. An IoT Gateway device may offer both wired and wireless connectivity and can be chosen based on the specific project requirements.
Some IoT projects that call for ubiquitous coverage and remote installation, eg. solar tracking systems, require IOT gateway devices with LTE and other cellular connectivity support.
For IoT applications that require high bandwidth and maximum reliability, like predictive maintenance, lighting systems and Home automation, connectivity options including Ethernet, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth should be supported by the IoT Gateway solution.
The challenge of Interoperability also comes into play when we talk about the communication protocols. An IoT gateway solution may need to communicate with multiple IoT sensor nodes that are all developed on different communication protocols. An IoT gateway must be equipped to handle such scenarios of interoperability.
- Robust Security Provisions in the IoT Gateway DeviceIn this age of connectivity, all your systems and process hold treasures of data. Data is the new ‘oil’ as it is the most crucial asset for your next wave of growth.
Whether it is home automation or vehicle tracking system, huge volume of data needs to be sampled and interpreted for any analysis. Data leakage can lead to privacy issues or corporate leak. Protecting sensitive data from a leak is of paramount importance for any organization.
When you decide to buy an off-the-shelf IoT gateway solution, you need to make sure what kind of security certificates and security programs are part of the solution or can be installed.
Instances such as denial of service attack (DDOS), tampering, spoofing and elevation of privilege are some of the most common attacks that are launched on IoT systems. IoT gateway device is the most targeted component owing to its higher processing power.
Market-watch: ARM CortexTM-A9 / A8 / A7, CISCO 9 series are some of the good IoT gateway devices to choose when security is a major concern.
- Low Power Footprint and Greener Power SourceAn ideal IoT Gateway solution should be developed for running on low power footprints. The gateway design should ensure reliable operation and should have capabilities to adopt ideal power saving options.
This is because some of the IoT field deployments require IoT gateway devices to work on alternative power sources. This is to ensure cost saving in the long run and achieve the desired project RoI.
For instance, an IoT gateway deployed in a solar power harvesting project should be able to run on the solar power generated by the solar panels already installed.
MarketWatch: In case your IoT application requires gateways to be low on power footprint, you can go for gateways like AirLink® Raven RV50 gateway device that claims to be the lowest-power industrial IoT gateway. There are various other low-power IoT gateways as well such as ET01-868-UART, KBox A-201 mini Box-PCs etc.
Source: Sierra Wireless
- Operating Environment
IoT gateway devices, deployed in fields or other operating environments, may have to withstand harsh weather and environment conditions.For instance, an IoT system deployed in the sea for oil drilling companies will have to bear corrosion due to salt water and also the buoyant force of the sea water.
Some of these IoT gateway devices are tasked to communicate very critical data to the cloud in real time and even minutes of downtime is not warranted
There are a few standards that verify the durability of the gateway. One should look for certifications such as E-Mark, IP64, MIL-STD 810G, SAE J1455 etc. Moreover, if the IoT gateway is supposed to work in a hazardous environment, Class I Div II certification is essential.
MarketWatch: AAEON’s AIOT-ILRA01, AIOT-IGWS01, ReliaGATE 20-25 are few of the gateways that are built to work under harsh environment.
- Data Pre-processing Capabilities
IoT gateways are getting smarter to cater the need to process the data closer to the source. We are talking about the Edge analytics enabled IoT gateway device.There may be a scenario in an IoT setup where some amount of data needs to be processed as soon as the data is captured. This is possible only when an IoT gateway is equipped for it.
For such applications, Edge Analytics-enabled IoT gateways are being widely used.
Video surveillance, home automation, augmented reality applications, smart-city management are some of the identified use-cases of IoT gateway solutions with Edge Computing capabilities.
Local storage is also quite crucial for IoT gateway devices in order to provide Edge analytics capabilities, as the data needs to be stored before processing.
Depending on the amount and type of data collected, one can choose the size of the local storage. In case of video surveillance, IoT gateways supporting HDDs should be the right choice.
MarketWatch: HPE Edgeline EL1000, Dell Edge Gateway 3001/2/3, ReliaGATE 10-12 etc. are a few of the Edge enabled IoT Gateways that offer built-in Edge Analytics.
- Support and Serviceability of the deployed IoT gateway devicesServiceability of the product must be ensured for uninterrupted operation of the field deployed IoT projects. IoT Gateway downtime can lead to a situation where the entire operation is interrupted. This in turn can cost very dearly to the organization.
Most IoT gateway manufacturers provide support and service but the service response time is a very crucial factor in a gateway failure scenario. It is advisable to check with the IoT gateway vendor about this, before deployment.
- Firmware Update and DiagnosticsAn IoT Gateway device should be capable of running self-diagnosis and report error if any. It should also have provision to update the firmware in order to fix the glitches experienced during its operation in the field.
Firmware update also aids in adding new features to the gateway even after it is deployed in the field. Any security loop holes can also be fixed via firmware updates.
- Cost Factor
Cost is a major factor for consideration when looking for an off-the-shelf gateway. Most gateways come equipped with multiple connectivity options along with different other features.You may not require many of these connectivity options and the additional features for your IoT project implementation. Also, these extra features may contribute to increased power consumption.
Therefore, it is always good to clearly analyze the requirements prior to looking for IoT gateway solutions. You will not only be able to save the upfront cost but also save exponentially after your IoT solution is deployed.
To Sum Up…
Picking up the right gateway is quite critical for your IoT deployment. With so many variants around, things only get more perplexing.
We have tried to break it down for you to help you make more informed decisions while selecting the best suited IoT gateway solutions.