No matter how simple or complex your industrial automation project is, the fact is that IoT Gateway is the backbone for all implementations of smart connected devices. The gateway is needed to make IoT devices available in the online world and allow for connection to a cloud server. An IoT gateway also manages device configuration, authenticates devices for secure access, and support edge analytics. Lastly, a gateway is needed to provide compatibility across all connected devices by supporting a variety of connection protocols including Bluetooth, WiFi, Zwave, and others.
If you’re looking to set up an IoT gateway, there are some pointers you’ll want to know to ensure you’re following the right path. Here are 5 best practices to follow.
1. Security Is Priority.
In today’s ever-evolving world of cybersecurity threats, security should be your top priority in setting up an IoT gateway. Hackers are looking for all sorts of ways to penetrate your IoT gateway, including the exploitation of software, network, and physical vulnerabilities. Security starts with each device. All IoT devices should have set times in which authentication expires, edge gateways, and associated access keys.
Another proven way to harden your IoT gateway is to use both Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) and Trusted Platform Module (TPM). TEE ensures that all of the sensitive data in the connected device is processed, stored, and protected in a trusted isolated environment. This enables end-to-end security by enforcing privacy, system integrity, data confidentiality and authenticity, as well as data access rights. TEE is well-liked for its high amount of accessible memory and high processing speeds.
TPM is a specialized chip that is used on an endpoint device. The chip stores RSA encryption keys that are specific to the system’s hardware authentication. TPM can also be used to store certificates as well as passwords.
2. Use Gateway Clustering for Continuity.
To minimize network downtime and improve operational continuity, implement the use of IoT gateway clustering. Clustering is also beneficial in that it ensures that information received from legacy nodes and IoT devices is transmitted without data loss. Without clustering, data loss can occur because of load issues, faulty connectivity, or issues with the IoT gateway device.
To mitigate these risks, clustering interconnects multiple gateway devices. A cluster of IoT gateway devices should be installed between all source and destination nodes. This creates a mesh network of devices and ensures redundancy. This means that if a certain Gateway node malfunctions or goes down, communication continuity is still available. If an IoT gateway failure occurs, the connections and applications are transferred to a neighboring gateway.
3. Configuration Management.
A useful IoT gateway should be easy to setup and deploy. Consider the fact that most IoT applications are accessed remotely. This means that the gateway you design should support remote configuration and management. This ensures that operators, no matter where they’re located physically, are able to maintain the gateway as needed.
The use of human machine interface (HMI) systems is a proven way to offer remote and useful configuration management. With HMI, operators can see a holistic view of the system, to include faulty systems, high error incidence, and much more.
4. Avoid Excess Data Load With Load Balancing.
One of the biggest causes of IoT gateway failure is excess data load. To mitigate this risk, implementing load balancing is a must. Load balancing can be achieved by using a cluster manager which manages network data distribution.
A cluster manager is able to define each gateway’s threshold occupancy. When an IoT gateway exceeds the defined threshold, the cluster manager moves the excess load to a neighboring gateway. This ensures balanced load distribution and faster network response.
5. Use Horizontal & Vertical Scaling.
When designing an IoT framework, current and future scalability are key factors. To add additional gateway devices to support scalability and redundancy, you can choose to implement either horizontal or vertical scaling.
Horizontal scaling allows for a gateway to be easily added to the network by connecting it to the existing communication bus. The biggest benefit of this scaling method is that there’s no need for a network overhaul or a major modification to be made to the network. Horizontal scaling is the ideal answer for pure scalability.
The other option to consider is vertical scaling. Vertical scaling should be used when functional changes need to be implemented. Functional changes include:
- OS updates
- Changes to memory
- Hardware upgrade
- Industrial automation software upgrade
To ensure that your IoT gateway supports vertical scaling, be sure that the architecture includes a microservice application.
Setting up an IoT gateway is no easy feat. Since the gateway is the backbone of your industrial IoT implementation, it’s important that all best practices are followed so that you are able to design a maintainable, scalable, and reliable environment.