An Overview of IoT Gateways

Ethernet solutions for business is a service that combines the power of ethernet and optical technologies across Metropolitan Area Networks to provide low-cost LAN to LAN connectivity for transmitting data between two or more company locations in a metropolitan location. In an industrial IoT setting, industrial gateways are implemented as ethernet solutions for business.

What Are IoT Gateways?

From a telecommunications point of view, a gateway is what facilitates communication between two networks with different technologies including interfaces and connectivity types. A gateway is an entry and exit point for all network data and handles inbound and outbound traffic.

Simply put, an IoT gateway is a device, physical or virtual, that connects IoT devices located in one network to another network, usually the cloud. The IoT gateway basically connects different types of IoT devices, from sensors to smart devices running on other interfaces and protocols within the internet.

The IoT gateway uses the same concept as your router. It creates a bridge between the various IoT devices, all their data included, and other networks like the internet. All data flowing between the devices and the network must go through the industrial gateway.

How IoT Gateways Work

I will break down the technical aspects of this gizmo into the roles it plays;

Translating Protocols to Establish Communication

All IoT devices need to establish communication with the cloud for transfer of data and this is where IoT gateway devices come in. The distributed IoT devices may connect to the IoT gateway using either wireless or wired connections.

IoT devices may use transmission modes like short-range and long-range. Short-range transmission modes include protocols like Bluetooth and Z-wave. Long-range protocols include Wi-Fi and LTE.

The IoT gateway should receive and send data using one or more of these transmission protocols. For outbound traffic, the IOT gateway may use 4G, 5G, or fiber optics WAN to send data to the cloud.

The gateway needs to understand all these transmission modes and protocols and translate them into other protocols that the data systems need.

IoT Gateways May Pre-Process the Raw Data Collected by IoT Devices

Typically, an IoT gateway receives large amounts of raw data from the IoT devices. Some IoT gateways can aggregate and synchronize all this raw data to reduce the sheer volume and consequently reduce network latencies.

The IoT gateway establishes communication to the cloud or server for that matter and sends this pre-processed data. You have probably heard that before and it is what we refer to as edge computing.

Features of IoT Gateways

Depending on the IoT gateway devices, IoT gateways may have different capabilities and functionalities. Regardless of how simple or sophisticated, a standard IoT gateway should at least have the following basic features:

Wired and Wireless Communication

IoT gateways provide communication between the cloud and IoT devices and as such should be able to support multiple communication protocols – wireless and wired.

Handle Outbound and Inbound Traffic

An IoT gateway handles outbound traffic from IoT devices to the cloud as well as inbound traffic for IoT device management and configuration.

Reinforce Security

IoT gateways segregate the network sometimes by separating OT and IT domains in IoT networks while still providing communication.

Some more advanced gateways come with features like these;

Edge Computing

As I had mentioned before, some IoT gateways have the ability to preprocess raw data before sending it to the cloud.

Customizable Firmware

Some IoT gateways come with customizable firmware that allows the device to adapt to some specific applications.

Adaptability to Challenging Environments

Rugged IoT gateway appliances like industrial IoT gateways are designed for challenging and complex industrial environments and can endure less than conducive temperatures, shocks, vibrations and humidity.

Handle Advanced Inbound Traffic

An IoT gateway may be used to provide additional intelligence and capabilities to the IoT network like offering support services with offline computing.