The Internet of Things (IoT) is all about bringing the worlds of embedded and IT together. The question is how to unite these disparate technologies. Few companies have expertise in both embedded design and Big Data. Fewer still know how to combine these domains.
That’s why new offerings like the Advantech IoT Gateway Starter Kits* illustrated in Figure 1 are so important. These kits offer an end-to-end solution that makes it much easier to connect embedded devices to commercial cloud service like those from Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon. With these kits, companies can focus their design efforts on analytics and decision support rather than contentious configuration details.
Figure 1. The Advantech IoT Gateway Starter Kit in the context of an IoT application.
The Advantech approach begins with two ready-to-run industrial gateways—the ARK-1123H and ARK-2121L—based on Intel® IoT Gateway Technology and boasting a number of powerful features. But what makes the kits truly significant is the software that enables a smooth path from sensor to cloud.
Cloud Platform Built in
Most notably, the kits come with the WISE-PaaS/RMM cloud software, which can run on Microsoft Azure*, IBM Bluemix*, and Amazon Web Services* (AWS). The cloud platform provides a number of functions:
- Data acquisition from the sensors
- Remote control for the gateway system and I/O, dashboard console
- More than 100 RESTful APIs, a popular type of standard web service for remote control and IoT application development
- MQTT protocol support for communications to the cloud
- Gateway monitoring to examine connected device and software conditions through a dashboard and system management console
- Node-RED application logic designer
Node-RED deserves particular attention for companies that aren’t accustomed to designing and deploying embedded systems. A drag-and-drop interface allows engineers or IT professionals to design implementations without the need for embedded coding experience. Companies can quickly and easily build an IoT automation and data flow implementation.
Running on the gateway hardware is the WISE Agent software. It handles communications with the sensors, or the devices reporting up sensor results, whether through common serial I/O protocols, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, digital I/O, or USB, and bridges communications through the MQTT protocol to relay data to the cloud. The WISE Agent also responds to the RESTful APIs for remote control and IoT application development, so the cloud application built with Node RED, further customized in either C++ or C#, can fulfill sophisticated needs. The WISE Agent also consolidates the data and performs any processing requirements, so what the cloud receives is only what it needs.
The building-block development approach and automated communications and processing capabilities help companies undertake IoT development without having access to dedicated embedded development resources. In addition, professional technical support and access to a developer forum community help companies get the assistance they might need.
Critical to the success of the IoT Gateway Starter Kits is the quad-core Intel® Celeron® processor J1900. The chip provides two major advantages to the kits. One is Intel® Active Management Technology, or Intel® AMT, which allows third-party management applications to better manage, repair, and control hardware, even when powered down. Even if a device is non-responsive at the OS level, software from the cloud can fix problems in the BIOS or restart the system.
In addition, the Intel Celeron J1900 processor comes with Intel McAfee Security Support*. Security is a major concern in IoT to keep hostile parties from interrupting activity or using an IoT device as a door into major systems.
Easier IoT Design
The Advantech kits are just one example of how members of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance are simplifying IoT design. To see other IoT gateway solutions from members of the Alliance, visit the Solutions Directory.
About the Author
Kenton Williston is the Editor-in-Chief of insight.tech and served as the editor of its predecessor publication, the Embedded Innovator magazine. Kenton received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2000 and has been writing about embedded computing and IoT ever since.Follow on Twitter More Content by Kenton Williston