IoT Gateway Software For Connecting Industrial Equipment
IoT gateway software is the unsung hero of industrial IoT. Your IoT gateway bridges the worlds of OT and IT, where the physical becomes digital. Your industrial equipment speaks through varied industrial protocols, and your gateway software understands them all. First, it translates and cleans up incoming data, and adds critical context. Then it stores and provides data in the right formats for local edge applications to trigger actions. Often it runs incoming data against more complicated analytics algorithms and machine learning models. Critically, you can securely control on-premises access to your machine data. As a result, you have the power for granting third parties such as equipment dealers and operators different levels of authorization for accessing and configuring your machines. In addition to all this, your gateway software efficiently filters, buffers, and controls what data to store locally and what data it sends to the cloud. Most importantly, the right IoT gateway software lets you choose the gateway hardware from any vendor best matching your requirements and constraints.
IoT Gateway Software Monitors Machines And Controls Costs
Each bit of data sent to the cloud costs you money. As a result, you should only send data with special value. You may even choose to not connect to the cloud at all except during the most meaningful events. For example, when your machine gets too hot. First, you’ll trigger alerts and light up dashboards. Additionally, you’ll send recent historical data. That lets your cloud analytics look for trends and better predict future problems. Once back to normal you won’t need to send each 10-second sensor reading when the temperature is below your configured set point. Because your gateway software lets you store most sensor data locally, you’ll just send a simple “I’m okay” to the cloud at a set interval. As a result, your gateway application shrinks traffic and cloud data storage and processing costs. When you scale this logic across all your data types and devices in the field, the savings are enormous.
Choosing The Right IoT Gateway Hardware
Each of your products is different. Some may operate in harsh environments. Others require specialized ports. Most likely, they all have critical price points that must be met. Consequently, choosing the right gateway hardware is not easy. But getting it right is critical. Further complicating the task, each hardware vendor is unique. They have strengths and weakness at both technology and business levels. Likewise, each gateway model from each vendor has its own set of pros and cons. As a result, you need as much freedom as possible for choosing any model from any vendor.
Why Gateway Software Matters
A few gateway hardware vendors won’t let you run your own applications on their hardware at all. You get a closed box with a fixed set of capabilities and defined user experience. This is unacceptable for organizations seeking to create differentiated services for their own customers. Other vendors let you add your own secret sauce to the mix, with a catch. You must use their software to perform most gateway functions. Sometimes that’s okay. Often, it’s a problem. Here’s why.
Gateway Hardware Vendor Challenges
Let’s say this software and hardware combination works well for your initial connected product. But what if your next product requires a gateway with a feature or price this vendor doesn’t offer? Now you must choose. On one side you have the same software but on sub-optimal hardware. On the other is the right hardware, and an additional software toolset. Stick with the same vendor and sacrifice product value. Choose a new vendor? Your development costs and maintenance challenges just doubled. Also, vendors discontinue models all the time. They raise prices. Business relationships change. Furthermore and predictably, hardware companies just aren’t great at developing software. Eventually, your customers will notice as this ripples up the stack. But once you’ve deployed hundreds or thousands of machines in the field, upgrading your hardware in order to get better software is an incredibly expensive decision.
Choosing Industrial Gateway Software
The most important part of choosing industrial IoT gateway software is to ensure you have the choice in the first place. The bottom line? Don’t pick industrial gateways from vendors who don’t let you run your own applications for controlling the hardware. Never cross the streams. There are fantastic hardware vendors out there. There’s no reason to choose one that locks you into their IoT gateway software. Choose a path that gives you the freedom to choose the best software providing a complete solution running on the right hardware. Choose a path for your development team to support a single application across hardware from many vendors.
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This article was written by Marc Phillips, the Director of Marketing at Bright Wolf, a leading IoT technology provider and system integrator helping Fortune 1000 companies design, develop, and deploy Enterprise IoT systems and connected product solutions.