As IoT Architectures Evolve, IoT Gateways Live on — but for How Long?
Meanwhile, HPE’s Partain said that while his company still offers basic IoT gateways, it has shifted over the past few years to develop new edge platforms capable of doing much more than those traditional gateways.
“In any kind of IT environment, you realize that once you have more computing power and storage, you can start to do things differently,” Partain said. “When we started working with customers with traditional IoT gateways, we ran into problems that we knew could be solved if you were able to close the distance between the data that’s being captured and the processing. There was a value-add in solving the problem differently than it was being solved before.”
HPE developed a platform in which it could place “real data center-level compute capabilities” in a small, rugged, form factor, he said, adding, “You take as much of the data center as possible to the data itself, as opposed to needing a gateway, which again, is doing nothing more than grabbing, translating and sending data somewhere else.”
Schneider’s Baumann described the current state of architectural affairs in most enterprise and industrial IoT settings as “a hybrid environment,” one in which the prevalence of traditional IoT gateways or other types of platforms depends on use cases, how much data they generate, how much needs to be processed and stored, and how much intelligence and security needs to exist at the edge. The more advanced networks could head further down the road of allowing IT to not just merge with OT, but disrupt it, fulfilling visions for highly automated enterprise and industrial environments.
“At the same time, there are gazillions and gazillions of brownfields out there where we still need the traditional gateways to bridge the gap from OT to IT,” Baumann said. “Just in the manufacturing sector alone, how many factories out there in the world have gone online (via IoT deployments) just in the past three years versus how many are still offline? I don’t know the number, but I think those that have come online represent a very small percentage of the total.”
As more companies gradually deploy IoT, some organizations may find that the translation capabilities of IoT gateways are sufficient for their use cases — or at least for a while. “I think what this all means,” said Baumann, “is that IoT gateways in some form will be with us for a long time.”