Customizing Intelligent IoT Gateway

As companies evolve their Internet of Things (IoT) strategies, one clear trend taking hold is the need for a customized solution, including the IoT gateway component.

What started as a relatively simple concept of using gateways as delivery vehicles from Cloud to Device – in the age of “IoT 2.0”, intelligence is pushed from the cloud to the gateway and edge devices. Security is treated more comprehensively and connectivity is broadened to include more devices across the network up through the business enterprise.

Gateways now require comprehensive connectivity, security, and processing capabilities. In essence, the IoT gateway needs to be an intelligent device capable of handling and processing a variety of functions.

Connectivity

The need to extend the IoT reach within the network, whether it’s a Building, Retail Store, or “Smart Appliances” in the home, means connecting existing devices alongside new devices, which typically leads to the need for customized interfaces.

Prior to IoT 2.0, the most common way to address connectivity was to integrate a series of off-the-shelf routers, bridges, and gateways that network everything together. Unfortunately, this requires a proliferation of devices, not to mention the need for more infrastructure, many types of spares, and additional points of failure. Clearly, it’s more desirable today to implement an IoT network topology with a minimal number of components. Building a customized gateway is one such approach to accomplishing this goal.

Customizing connectivity often requires both hardware and software. For example, if an industrial automation business needs to integrate new low power connected devices at the edge, the business could benefit from integrated 802.15.4 hardware and accompanying software stack in the gateway, integrated alongside legacy interfaces.

Security

As connectivity extends across deep into networks, additional vulnerabilities are potentially created. When intelligent processing is pushed from the cloud to the gateway and edge devices, companies are increasingly concerned about the risk of cyber-attack. These are very real concerns that can disrupt operations; result in theft of information, or worse, cause human injury.

How much security to build into your IoT network depends on several factors, but it all begins with answering the basic question: “What am I protecting and what is it worth?” The answer can range from very little, to everything. In some cases, standard networking security (SSL and HTTPS), a firewall, encrypted databases, and checksum security might be sufficient. In other situations, businesses might require hardware-enforced security partitioning (much like the ARM TrustZone environment), certificate-enabled authentication, or a customized security solution.

Security customization requires a comprehensive analysis and workshop to define the security attack surface from a system perspective, and then customize a solution potentially in both hardware and software to sufficiently address the security exposure.

Customized gateway solutions help address threat profiles specific to a IoT strategy and implementation.

Performance

Specific performance requirements drive customization of the intelligent gateway. These requirements might include network throughput, open source and proprietary IP, soft real-time versus hard real-time performance, power management, graphics, and other factors. These factors also have a significant impact on processor selection.

One significant embedded trend is the use of advanced multicore SoCs. Some processors such the i.MX6 are well suited for display related applications such as digital signage.. Other applications might desire a gateway optimized for networking throughput.

So when we talk about an intelligent IoT gateway, customization should happen in both the hardware and software. If a customer needs a lot of processing power for their intelligent processing, a quad-core processor with multiple OSs or one OS running in SMP mode might be the answer.

Open Source

Customers are now talking about converging security, proprietary capabilities, and open source environments into ever more powerful intelligent gateways based on increasingly complex SoCs. This is no longer a discussion about off-the-shelf gateways, but about customization and building a gateway that fully utilizes the underlying hardware and meets the differentiated needs of the business.

There are clear desires to converge proprietary applications alongside open source Linux-based applications for both performance reasons and for intellectual property protection.

In some cases, companies are leveraging heterogeneous cores for power management. For example the power intensive cores are put to sleep until they are needed, while the low power cores perform all of the necessary functions.

Such complex designs also require a tooling solution that enables developers to design, develop, and debug heterogeneous architectures from an overall system perspective.

Cost

When a customer purchases an off-the-shelf gateway, costs will be incurred from a couple perspectives. First, there is a high likelihood that a significant portion of the hardware in the gateway will go unused. Thus, the customer is paying for unnecessary hardware, which can add up when volumes are considered. Additionally, if the needed functionality is not present, more hardware will have to be purchased and integrated at a later time (e.g., adapter for 802.15.4 mesh connectivity) increasing cost and adding new layers to the system.

Summary

As businesses endeavor on their IoT 2.0 paths, they have increasingly complex requirements to consider, but they also have options with tradeoffs. There are three general paths for businesses to evolve their IoT gateway strategies:

  • Continue to integrate and leverage off-the-shelf hardware/software solutions
  • Leverage off-the-shelf hardware, and invest in the customized gateway software
  • Customize the hardware and the software

In each case, a business must consider the following questions:

  • What is the cost of the hardware? Am I paying for hardware I don’t need?
  • What are my options if I need customized hardware support?
  • Do I have the ability to customize the software, to make optimal usage of my hardware in both the short-term and long-term?
Talk to us

If you are considering customizing an IoT Gateway for your application, we can help you.

Industry Expertise

We are experts in Networking and IoT, having worked with the leading solution providers in the world.

Focus on your Application

Use your key resources and time on making your end application perfect. Let us handle the development and customization of the IoT Gateway.

Hardware and Software

Our capabilities address both hardware and software changes that might be needed to bring your solution to life.

Cost

Leverage our development centers in cost advantaged geographies.

No question, business pressures are unrelenting. As a result, gateway requirements are becoming more complex and businesses face a significant challenge finding a gateway solution that meets their specific technical needs while at the same time meeting their business objectives.

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