‘Smart’ commercial environments – offices, warehouses, campuses, healthcare facilities, retail stores, restaurants – require reliable wireless connectivity and a secure edge infrastructure of sensors/devices to feed real-time environmental and physical data to IoT applications, where data can be analyzed and visualized. Edge infrastructure architectures vary in size and complexity based on the needs of the solution and the design of the environment. And as the number and nature of the devices within those environments increases, the edge connectivity and computing requirements of the infrastructure go up substantially.
Commercial edge infrastructures are typically made up of a network consisting of hundreds or thousands of edge devices – including IoT Gateways that are responsible for:
Rigado offers enterprise software providers and systems integrators an edge infrastructure solution for commercial environments – Rigado Cascade – that has been specifically designed to support a wide range of IoT devices, use-cases and enterprise applications. Based on our experience deploying these infrastructures into a wide range of environments, we have identified a number of edge requirements that are common across all verticals – as well as some specific to each primary vertical.
Deploying edge networks requires investment, both for the necessary equipment (devices, sensors, gateways) and for installation & ongoing maintenance of the network. One of the best ways to maximize the return on that investment is to ensure that the edge infrastructure deployed is as flexible as possible in terms of the type of end device and network connectivity it supports.
For this reason, Rigado Cascade supports a wide variety of device connectivity options, including Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi, Ethernet (with PoE), USB 2.0, Thread, Zigbee and Wirepas Mesh. We recommend that teams look beyond just the connectivity required for their primary IoT application or use case, and look also at connecting to legacy devices and networks (especially Building Management Systems) – and to future-proofing for device and applications down the road.
Many of the early smart building and IoT solutions took a ‘stovepipe’ approach to device-to-cloud connectivity. That is to say, some vendors required a customer to use their specific sensors, their own gateways and their proprietary cloud application to achieve, often, a single connected use-case. While this was sometimes necessary – especially early on – to enable solutions with technologies that were not yet standardized or interoperable, this kind of stove-pipe approach is not recommended today.
To maximize openness, Rigado Cascade and the Edge Connect software that runs on our gateways leverage standard MQTT and HTTP protocols to connect directly to our customers and partners’ cloud services and enterprise applications. This means that not only can Rigado edge infrastructures be used to power a wide variety of use-cases within a single environment, but also that our customers’ data flows directly to their cloud systems – not through a Rigado cloud service first. We have found that to be an important point of differentiation with customers who are concerned with maintaining the control and chain-of-custody of their data.
An edge infrastructure needs to be easy to monitor and manage across thousands, or tens of thousands, of locations and devices – regardless of the type of environment in which it is deployed. Depending on the customers and partners involved, the responsibility for managing that network and devices may fall on a customer operations team, a managed service provider or an enterprise solutions vendor.
Rigado provides a robust set of edge network monitoring and management tools, Edge Direct, as part of our Cascade solution. Through a cloud-based web interface, customers and partners are able to monitor the performance of gateways (such as CPU, Memory and Storage) as well as network and device availability. Using those same tools, teams are also able to centrally update the device connectivity, data filtering and cloud integration running on gateways anywhere in the world. For companies with existing network management tools, all of the Edge Direct capabilities are also available via an API.
Large-scale edge infrastructures create some unique security challenges, largely due to the sheer number and variety of devices they connect. What’s more, companies sometimes deploy ‘prototype’ or ‘pilot’ IoT solutions into the field without establishing the security capabilities and processes that are required to minimize the risks related to that edge network and devices. In order to address these, teams must consider all aspects of edge infrastructure security at the device, gateway and networking levels.
To address these end-to-end security needs, Rigado employs a secure edge operating system (Ubuntu Core) and ensures both the gateway OS and filesystem are encrypted at all times. We also manage cloud integration keys and credentials in secure protected memory units on our gateway CPU, and encrypt all communication into and out of the gateway itself.
In addition to the common edge infrastructure requirements outlined above, there are also unique and specialized considerations according to the vertical or environment. Below are some examples based on the verticals in which Rigado is most often being deployed today.
Smart Logistics depends on reliable, real-time data about the location and status of assets within an environment.
Today, advances in Bluetooth devices and tags are reshaping traditional methods of logistics asset tracking, such as RFID. Companies are finding new ways to extend, or replace, their existing systems with BLE-based solutions – often at a fraction of the operating cost.
New developments in IoT for Retail and Hospitality promise to improve guest and employee experiences, as well as enable new use-cases for operational efficiency and employee safety. In environments ranging from stores & hotels to music venues & casinos, companies are looking to delight guests and streamline operations.
Advances in cost-effective IoT technologies are transforming commercial buildings into intelligent spaces that are better aligned with the needs of both property owners and tenants. From equipment and personnel tracking to environmental monitoring and building controls automation – connected office solutions enable smarter decision-making, increased tenant satisfaction and lower operational costs.
Advances in wireless asset tracking and monitoring are bringing new capabilities to almost every facet of healthcare. From patient monitoring and care management to staff optimization and key equipment tracking, the delivery of care is being revolutionized.
IoT solutions are helping restaurant owners and operators realize benefits to back-of-house business operations and the front-of-house customer experience.
From equipment monitoring and employee scheduling, to interactive consumer applications and user-friendly order management the restaurant industry is being revolutionized.
Blog: The New Bluetooth 5.1 – Setting the Stage for Improved Direction Finding Using Bluetooth Low Energy
Webinar: Asset Tracking at Scale Using Bluetooth Low Energy
Video: Bluetooth’s Potential as the Leader in Commercial IoT Infrastructure
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