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What is an IoT gateway?

 An internet of things (IoT) gateway is a device that connects IoT devices, equipment systems, sensors and the cloud.

By connecting the devices in the field and a centralized cloud, the IoT gateway offers local processing and storage solutions, as well as the ability to autonomously control field devices based on data input by sensors.

IoT gateways, which can be a hardware or virtual appliance, receive data from IoT sensors, which can be sent to the cloud. IoT gateways also receive information from the cloud, which then goes to the device itself. This means that all the information moving from an IoT device to the cloud, or vice versa, goes through the connected IoT gateway.

One of the key benefits provided by an IoT gateway is security. Gateways protect the flow of information moving in both directions and due to this, they protect data moving to the cloud from leaks, as well as prevent unauthorized control of IoT devices from outside parties.

Traditional IoT gateways are non-intelligent and perform a wide range of functions including device connectivity, protocol translation, data filtering and processing, security, updating and management. However, new smart IoT gateways are also performing additional functionalities such as edge analytics on data produced by IoT devices before it is sent to the cloud, or without transmission to the cloud.

IoT gateways are key due to the increasing number of connected things and emergence of new use cases. Due to the different protocols, connectivity models and energy profiles, as well as the highly dispersed nature of IoT systems, these devices are needed to manage and control these complex environments.

As the number of IoT devices and sensors grow, so does the number of communications that will take place over a combination of public and private networks. Communications between the ‘things’, the gateway and the cloud therefore must be secure in order to prevent any data tampering or unrestricted access, according to Nisarg Desai, Product Manager of IoT at GlobalSign.

Desai believes that IoT gateways provides organizations with a number of benefits including high scalability, as these gateways are able to take intelligent data from the datacenter or cloud and push into the field or network edge; faster production, as an accelerated and more advanced production line can decrease time-to-market significantly; lower telecommunications costs, due to lower network and WAN traffic and risk mitigation, given IoT gateways’ ability to isolate devices and sensors that aren’t performing before they cause bigger problems for the production line.

More on edge analytics–IoT use cases like factory automation and increasingly autonomous driving, for instance, need the ability to process data incredibly quickly at the edge, as well as on a central cloud platform. This emphasis on the IoT edge was put into focus during the recent Dell EMC World, as well as by the a Linux Foundation launch.

The Linux Foundation’s EdgeX Foundry, which was launched at the 2017 Hannover Messe event in Germany. EdgeX Foundry is an open source approach to create unified interoperability among edge components geared toward industrial IoT applications. Dell provided some 125,000 lines of code to seed the project; the code was developed internally under the moniker FUSE. At the time of its launch, EdgeX Foundry had 50 member companies.

Andy Rhodes, Dell executive director of IoT solutions, explained why Linux adopted the octopus for EdgeX Foundry. “An octopus has its eight tentacles and the suckers on the tentacles represent the sensors. They’re bringing the data into the octopus. Actually, the octopus has nine brains. It has a brain in each of those tentacles. It found it couldn’t send the information to its brain fast enough.”

So, “The whole IoT architecture is actually based off the octopus,” Jeremy Burton, Dell CMO, added. “I guess a million years of evolution can’t be wrong.”


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