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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cloud API for IoT gateways and IoT edge servers simplifies IoT networks

By Nick Flaherty

German embedded board maker congatec has developed a new cloud API to simplify the development of networks across the Internet of things (IoT).

The Cloud API for IoT Gateways highlights the need for equipment suppliers to move up the value chain into the cloud. The API communicates with local smart sensors, processes and converts the acquired data and executes automated actions based on a local rule engine, reducing traffic to the IoT cloud and enabling fast local actions. 
Secure bidirectional data exchange with any suitable clouds is achieved by using the TLS secured MQTT protocol with a design solution using the Microsoft Azure cloud. Clients can access this cloud via https in client or administrator mode. All these features make the Cloud API for IoT Gateways a simple starting point for OEMs that need to access smart sensor networks via IoT gateways and IoT edge servers. Typical application areas can be found in various IoT segments, from industrial production and machinery to smart cities, smart facilities, smart homes, smart energy grids, medical IoT, the transportation sector and digital signage.

The API integrates a broad range of wireless sensor interconnects, including Bluetooth LE, ZigBee, LoRa and other LPWANs, as well as wired protocols for building or factory automation. Even heterogeneous protocol configurations and communication with other gateways are possible.

"Each smart sensor network has its own demands. Often, heterogeneous sensor networks are required and various different database implementations can be found in IoT clouds as well," said said Christian Eder, director of marketing at congatec. "At the edge of the IoT we are able to manage these heterogeneous, bidirectional demands by centrally orchestrating local smart sensor networks including the IoT edge gateways themselves. Our application ready congatec Cloud API for IoT Gateways meets this demand. Its freely programmable software modules can be instantly utilized to get access to our boards and their data as well as connected sensor networks. They are available in C++ and can be used as a blueprint for any custom specific implementations. which highly simplifies the development of individual IoT solutions." 

The main software components are the different Cloud API function modules as well as the demo and test modules for provider independent IoT clouds. The sensor engine of the Cloud API for IoT Gateways makes the communication with the local sensor and actuators independent from any protocol. Additionally, it normalizes the data records to freely definable physical units and checks for consistency. 

The congatec operating system (CGOS) library integrates relevant gateway system parameters, such as system temperatures, CPU workload and intrusion detection. The rule engine enables the gateway to locally initiate warnings and automated actions if certain values exceed or threaten to exceed a defined threshold. 

Finally the communication engine takes care of encrypted and provider independent data cloud communication via wired or wireless internet connections. The IoT cloud evaluation software provides the required tools for consolidating the sensor data in the cloud. Additionally, they can establish central messaging and control rules for the connected IoT applications, define further escalation scenarios and provide dashboards for remote clients.

congatec provides OEMs with all required software modules in the C++ source code, which simplifies the development of own IoT applications for Linux and Windows based on this application ready reference design and also provides additional software services for the Cloud API and its cloud connection.

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