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The anatomy of an intelligent IoT gateway

After the early euphoria, the marketplace is coming to terms with the real value that the Internet of Things (IoT) bandwagon offers. For instance, people now ask very specific questions, like whether the IoT is different from the legacy monitoring and control systems, commonly employed in the industrial automation and manufacturing environments.

A second issue for systems integrators is that a high percentage of the data generated by sensors is useless, so there needs to be a smart mechanism in place to sort out what data is kept, cleansed, stored locally or sent to the cloud. This is where intelligent IoT gateways come into play.

Such gateways can maximize the amount of storage and processing power according to specific IoT applications, such as smart buildings and factory automation. This is done by enabling some of the decision making closer to the input devices at the network edge, where the intelligent gateway can act as an autonomous network endpoint. For instance, it can decide what data should be processed at the edge and sent back to sensors to perform any required actions.


1. Local analytics is the most prominent feature of an intelligent IoT gateway.

For some IoT applications, such as smart factory operations, it’s imperative that some data is processed in real time for fast response to overcome the security and latency issues in backhauling data to the cloud. Moreover, local analytics helps insulate data centers from an overdose of information, while reducing bandwidth requirements lowers the time and cost associated with data transfer from the edge to the cloud.

In other words, a smart industrial machine saves the IoT system from the torrent of data by acting as somewhat of a spam filter. The IoT gateway makes the intelligent call on what data to ignore, when to carry out data analytics locally, and in which cases to pass the job on to the cloud or datacenter for big data crunching.

Another issue is that, according to Dell’s Enterprise Product Manager, Shams Hasan, nearly 80% of today’s sensors were not designed to be put onto the internet, so the ability of IoT gateways to integrate and connect legacy interfaces as well as modern wireless technology is critical. That allows system integrators to quickly implement the IoT solutions. Connecting a wired-only sensor with USB, serial or Ethernet to a gateway then allows the sensor to connect with the bigger world via wireless connections and protocols such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LTE, and ZigBee.

PCI Express, for example, is a new protocol that expands the PCI software usage model and replaces the physical bus with a high-speed serial bus serving multiple lanes. Dell gateways support PCIe expansion cards to multiply hardware and help give the gateways additional capabilities, such as data acquisition and multimedia applications including streaming audio and video. Providing a CAN bus card, available as an option on the Dell Edge Gateway, especially to support automotive industry applications, also expands connections.


2. Dell Edge Gateway 5100 is able to carry out data analytics locally, and features options like extra I/O and power modules.

Dell is aiming to bridge the gap between the traditional control systems and the brand new world of IoT with intelligent features inside the Dell Edge Gateway 5000 that establish the context in terms of the amount of data storage, processing power, and I/O capabilities. Dell’s intelligent gateways depend on dual-core Intel® Atom™ processors, which were created for high processing and low energy situations. Intelligent gateways are typically designed with the processing power, size and I/O connections appropriate for specific use cases.

Dell’s Edge Gateway 5000 Series, which is initially targeting commercial adoption in smart buildings and industrial automation, is rugged enough to withstand operating temperatures from -30°C to 70°C. Eventually, Dell is aiming to take these intelligent IoT gateways to other Industrial IoT (IIoT) verticals such as healthcare, farming, retail, and transportation.

David Chang is a Director for Dell’s Edge Gateways. He is responsible for product and solutions management of the Edge Gateway, including lifecycle management and sales enablement. A 20-year veteran of high tech, information technologies, and embedded systems, David has been with Dell for 10 years, with product marketing and planning experience in both Client Solutions and Enterprise Solutions Group. David was born in Taipei, Taiwan and has a bachelor’s degree from University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from University of Texas, Austin.