Four Key Questions to Ask When Selecting IoT Gateways
A solid Internet of Things solution requires both an understanding of the environment and a basic knowledge of commonsense network design principles. Security, moreover, must be a primary concern for any business looking to connect its infrastructure to the internet. Both of these basic facts of IT life are reasons why selecting the right gateway can make or break an IoT project.
According to Steven Fowler, CEO of Atlanta-based IoT integrator Jivoo, gateways come in many forms these days, including stand-alone hardware, mobile apps, and even smart sensors. All of them handle communication with an IoT solution’s central data collection site and provide security by enforcing use of secure transport channels.
Before deciding which gateway is best for you and your customer, start by asking these critical questions:
- Will your IoT project need to support special communication protocols? For instance, PROFIBUS and PROFINET are popular automation technology protocols that gateways in industrial applications will likely need to support, along with Ethernet and Wi-Fi.
- Do you need to preprocess your data before sending it upstream? Some gateways can provide a considerable amount of help with local processing. Edge computing announcements from companies like VMware, NXP, Schneider Electric, Qualcomm, and many more foretell a future requiring intelligent IoT gateways as a matter of course.
- Will you be using public cloud platforms? If so, make sure to buy a gateway that can connect with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or whatever other public cloud environment you’ll be using.
- What are your security requirements? This actually should be the first question you ask. “Unfortunately, too many products today do not incorporate even some basic security measures,” says Fowler. “Often customers will assume security and will not want to pay extra for it. If a web camera is even $10 more on the marketplace, even though it’s more secure, fickle customers will often not pay a premium.”
There are more issues to consider when evaluating IoT gateways, of course, but answering these four vital questions will set you on the road to finding the right device at the right price for your clients’ needs.
PAUL FERRILL has a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering and has been writing in the computer trade press for over 30 years. He was awarded Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for the previous three years in the Cloud and Datacenter Management area.