The first thing to know is that there is no order or level of importance for each of these factors in your choice. Each may be a deciding factor in your purchase.
Next, some of these things may be features that you may not need to start but find out that you will need them in the future. One way to solve this is to buy "more gateway" than you need. For example, you may believe that your solution will always be deployed indoors in a controlled location, only to find out that you need to be able to deploy them in a tougher environment, one that is exposed to low and high temperatures. Buying a gateway that has a broader temperature specification will not add much to your cost upfront. Still, it may save you a lot down the road. Here are the 10 factors:
#1 - What Radio Technology to choose
#2 - Operating Temperature
#3 - Ports and Local connectivity
#4 - How are you Powering the Gateway / Router
#5 - Selecting a Mobile Carrier
#6 - Input/output Ports
#8- Device Management
#9 - Network Redundancy / Dual SIM
#10 - Bridge Gateway / Router Mode
Hopefully, breaking it down into these four categories will help.
Finally, many manufacturers offer products with various connection options, meaning that you can often use the same product/software and change the connectivity option as needed. More about that in the section on Local Connectivity coming up shortly.
Today's electronics are more capable than ever before when it comes to dealing with different temperatures. However, when your business relies on a product to work, you want to make sure that you are using a designed product to handle your work environment's rigors.
Out of the box, once set up, your Gateway will look after establishing the connection to the network and maintain it continuously. But that is only half of the work, as you still need to connect your device to the Gateway. In some cases, you may just monitor some simple variables via an Input port. The Gateway does all the work. In most cases, however, you will connect your chosen device to the Gateway. That can be via a variety of wired and wireless methods.
Here are the four common ones:
One thing to remember is that you may not know what port offerings you need for the next 3, 5 or 10 years for your devices. To help, most gateways offer more than one of these offerings on a single device, and some even offer the ability to expand at a future date if your needs were to change.
One often overlooked decision about a gateway is how you are going to power it. Here are three main types:
As mentioned, most gateways offer AC and DC power choice, and more and more are offering PoE as an option.
A cellular gateway needs to have an active connection from a cellular carrier. Otherwise, it is a very nice-looking paperweight in most cases. In the past, carrier choice often had to be done at the time of purchase, as devices on some legacy networks were tied into one provider.
With the emergence of 4G, switching carriers has become much easier. If your deployment is always going to be in the same country, you don't have to factor in this into your decision.
However, suppose your application may need to cross over into different parts of the world. In that case, you need to factor in that other parts of the world use different frequency ranges. To help, many gateways can work in multiple areas, but you will want to verify this before you purchase.
Without a doubt, one of the most under-utilized portions of a gateway is the Input and Output ports. They can be used to gather many key pieces of information, but few know much about them. Inputs are used to take in either an on/off the signal or reading of key items. Examples may include how many times a door has opened, the level of grain in a storage container or how many marathon runners have gone past a distance marker. Outputs are a bit different, as it originates from the Gateway and a signal is sent to a device. It may be to open a door, such as a door at a secure remote location.
There are two different forms of Inputs and Outputs, Digital and Analog.
In this fast-paced world of business that we are in, things can change quickly. Devices in a static deployment situation are now expected to work in a mobile environment. One example is in the food industry; people are ditching the old brick and mortar restaurants and moving towards pop-up restaurants and food trucks at an incredible rate. Many are hoping to use as much of their current equipment as possible in these new ventures. Most reliable enterprise-grade gateways can work in either environment, although some designed to use in fixed environments may not have all the features you need in a Mobile gateway.
To recap, this is a decision that you will want to make and take your time to do so. If you have any doubt about which type you may need, you may wish to opt for a mobile gateway, as you will have an increased level of flexibility. Just make sure that AC, which most can power the device.
IT departments are in kind of a dilemma when it comes to IoT gateways. Along with the business teams, they love the flexibility it gives them, and most appreciate the reliability and security level that today's gateways offer. However, it brings up something they hate: more work. How do you manage devices that never come back to the office? It is hard enough to control phones and laptops, and now this? Luckily, today's gateways offer some incredible tools to manage things like firmware levels, settings, and security levels.
The fundamental way that most devices do this is what is referred to as one-to-one management. An administrator can remotely connect to a device and make all the required changes. This works great if you have one, two or a few devices- not so great if you have hundreds or thousands. You can use a script to streamline this, but it is still cumbersome. This is the default offering, usually free, for most Gateways.
One-to-many is the other method, and this has many things going for it. You can make changes to all devices at once, such as changing a setting or upgrading firmware. As well, these offerings usually allow for an easier way of gathering data, such as uptime and location, from your devices immediately. The downside is that it usually is not free. Still, when you factor in the costs of managing many devices on a one to one basis, it is not a hard cost to justify for most IT teams.
A couple of other factors in your decision; how often do you need to make changes? The more often you do, the more that a one-to-many solution will make sense. The other is your security level. More specifically, do you have any issues using cloud-based software offerings to manage your devices? Most organizations have everything else in the cloud, so there is no issue, but some (especially government agencies like police forces) may have policies against doing this. Many companies are offering one-to-many management tools that can be purchased and deployed internally.
Most of the time, a landline connection is providing connectivity. If it is not available, the implantation of a router detects this and switches over to the backup (or wireless) connection. When it detects that the mainline is back up, it switches back just as seamlessly. This will allow you to continue taking Point of Sale Transactions at a busy retail store, even if the connection is cut. It is increasingly done on the cellular Gateway, which has the built-in ability to handle the switching between the two. For many deployments, a single cellular connection is more than enough. However, in the case of deployments that require a maximum amount of reliability, such as at a railroad switching location, a 2nd cellular network is often used. It is from a different provider and one that uses an additional network infrastructure from the primary connection.
Many gateways can accommodate this by implementing Dual-SIM technology. The Gateway can use the SIMs to provide a failover method. In some cases, it can use both SIMs simultaneously and load-balance to maximize data throughput.
In most cases, you are provided with an Internet gateway by your landline provider. These Gateways often have built-in routing and Wi-Fi capability, so you do not need to purchase your Wi-Fi router. If this is how you deploy it, the Internet Gateway is working in Router mode. It is the one that is slicing and dicing your connection to provide connectivity to many devices.
However, many people choose to deploy their router instead of using the one from the provider.
Bridge mode is when the Gateway from the provider passes the IP address to the router that you bought, and the router handles everything.
In many locations, there is no router on-site. Hence, organizations use the routing ability inside of the cellular Gateway to do this. At more significant sites, such as at a retail store, the IT team may want to use specialized routers to handle traffic, so the cellular Gateway is just used to provide connectivity or a "bridge" to the Internet. It is also common when working with Industrial equipment at remote sites.
One important thing to note here is that cellular gateways have seen such huge advancements in their routing capability that many are now competitors to most traditional routers and are replacing them at a staggering rate. Finally, there are scenarios where you don't have an existing router on-site and still need to use the cellular Gateway in bridge mode, but those are becoming less common.
Novotech is a great place to start your IoT journey. We have great material on our web page, offer industry-leading service and expertise and have a local presence through our vast reseller network.