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Gartner predicts that by 2029 more than 15 billion IoT devices will connect to enterprise infrastructure. Many of these devices will operate outside of the centralized enterprise network, in satellite offices, manufacturing facilities, retail stores, and other remote locations. These remote – or edge – IoT devices need a secure and reliable way to connect to cloud resources and applications.

A cloud edge gateway is a hardware or software solution used to connect edge devices to the cloud. Some edge gateways are also routers that connect the edge location’s network to the WAN (wide area network) or SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network). In addition, many cloud edge gateway solutions also provide management access to connected devices, so administrators can remotely monitor and control edge infrastructure.

Some popular use cases for cloud edge gateways include:

  • Retail stores: Cloud edge gateways give retail stores a fast and secure connection for POS (point of sale) terminals, credit card readers, and security cameras.
  • Remote health facilities: Hospitals and clinics in remote areas use cloud edge gateways to securely and reliably transmit health data from IoT medical devices.
  • Police/emergency response vehicles: Cloud edge gateways enable secure data transmission from police, fire, and EMS vehicles to cloud applications.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the key characteristics and components of a robust, secure, and reliable cloud edge gateway solution.

What to look for in a cloud edge gateway

Vendor neutrality

In a decentralized network with many remote locations, network solutions like edge gateways are often chosen based on which vendor offered the best deal or had the most compelling sales pitch at the time a new site was opening. This creates a heterogeneous network architecture, with each vendor offering their own platform from which to monitor and manage their solutions. With so many platforms to learn and keep track of, it becomes very challenging for admins to keep networks operating at peak efficiency.

A vendor-neutral cloud edge gateway solution reduces management complexity by seamlessly integrating with the existing edge infrastructure. For example, Nodegrid Services Routers can run other vendors’ software, so admins can keep using the management platform they’re most comfortable with. Or, admins can use the ZPE Cloud network orchestration platform to manage any other vendor solution that’s connected to a Nodegrid device.

Vendor-neutral cloud edge gateways give organizations the freedom to continue expanding to new locations without worrying about integration issues. Vendor neutrality also reduces headaches for network administrators so they can focus on improving efficiency and optimizing performance.

High-speed cellular failover and out-of-band management

Edge IoT devices are used for critical operations, which means they need 24/7 connectivity. Cellular failover provides a secondary internet connection that’s independent of wired network infrastructure. A cloud edge gateway with cellular failover ensures that IoT devices have uninterrupted access to the cloud even if the primary ISP connection goes down. The best solution supports high-speed 4G/5G cellular to reduce the performance impact of failover, as well as providing dual-SIM slots for redundancy.

In addition, admins need management access to edge infrastructure and IoT devices that are independent of both the WAN and the LAN (local area network), so if something like a firmware update causes the local network to go down, they can repair the issue without needing to dispatch an expensive truck roll. Out-of-band (OOB) management uses a secondary network interface (like a 5G cellular SIM) to create an OOB network that’s dedicated to management and troubleshooting. An edge gateway with OOB management ensures that admins have 24/7 high-speed access to remote infrastructure so they can recover from problems faster and reduce downtime.

Secure hardware and software

The security threats to enterprise networks are ceaseless and growing more sophisticated by the day. Many IoT devices and edge locations operate with little-to-no human intervention, which means breaches could go undetected for a long time. In addition, it can be difficult to stay on top of patch schedules or remotely install security updates on so many devices in so many locations, which can leave edge networks vulnerable to attack.

The right cloud edge gateway comes with robust hardware security features like BIOS protection, encrypted disks, and geofencing that prevent malicious actors from using a stolen gateway to hijack edge networks. Its management software should also include Zero Trust security features like SAML 2.0 integration, selectable cryptographic protocols and cipher suite levels, and two-factor authentication (2FA). With a vendor-neutral solution like Nodegrid, admins can even use the cloud edge gateway to push out security updates to connected devices using the ZPE Cloud management platform.

Automation support

It’s growing more difficult for people to simultaneously manage the complex network infrastructures required for modern business operations while ensuring peak performance and 24/7 availability. Network automation solutions help decrease the burden on overworked admins and can improve the performance and reliability of edge networks.

Many edge gateways include some automation features as part of their management software. However, these tend to be limited to baked-in workflows, meaning admins may not be able to use custom scripts or third-party playbooks. The best cloud edge gateway has vendor-neutral automation support so admins can use their choice of automation solutions. For example, Nodegrid edge gateways can directly host automation playbooks from all the major platforms including Ansible and Puppet. Nodegrid also supports custom scripting and third-party integrations for even greater flexibility.

The best cloud edge gateway solution is vendor-neutral, uses high-speed cellular for failover and OOB management, follows Zero Trust best practices to keep the infrastructure secure, and supports all of the major automation tools and scripting languages. With the edge gateway market still being somewhat new, there’s really only one solution that checks all these boxes: the Nodegrid family of cloud edge gateway routers.

Why choose the Nodegrid cloud edge gateway solution?

There are six Nodegrid Services Router models to choose from based on your deployment size, networking requirements, and use case. For example, the Mini SR delivers versatile edge networking capabilities in a device approximately the size of an iPhone, which is perfect for mobile emergency response units or retail branches where space is at a premium.

For larger deployments, such as an edge compute data center or Smart Building system, the Net SR provides a modular solution with options for additional serial console ports, disk space, compute, PoE, and more.

Nodegrid’s vendor-neutral platform is extensible and capable of directly hosting other vendor solutions for automation, security, and other networking functions. Cellular failover and high-speed OOB are delivered via dual- or quad-SIM cellular slots with 5G/4G LTE support. Nodegrid devices are protected by secure hardware features, SAML 2.0 and 2FA support, and advanced authentication, plus the OS is kept up-to-date with frequent patches. Nodegrid is also the only cloud edge gateway with full support for all the top automation and IaC (infrastructure as code) solutions, including Ansible, Chef, and Puppet.

Ready to learn more about the Nodegrid cloud edge gateway solution?

Contact ZPE Systems today to learn more about the Nodegrid cloud edge gateway solution.

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