As we know the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) refers to the ecosystem of connected devices in the industrial field - manufacturing, healthcare, building automation or machine-to-machine communications, and others. After thousands of devices have been already deployed one important question arises: How can we safely modify and update?
In an industrial environment, it is not feasible to update remote devices using the traditional method, which involves connecting each embedded device to a PC with a cable. If not being updated the devices can miss out on the critical security improvements and bug fixes. Nowadays there is a technology called OTA. An over-the-air (OTA) update is a mechanism for remotely updating internet-connected hardware with new settings, software, and/or firmware.
OTA Update Framework for IIoT
There are different methods for OTA update, but the most common are as follows:
- Edge-to-cloud -
a microcontroller on the edge device connected to the internet directly receives a new firmware image from a remote server. In this scenario, Cloud performs the role of a dispatcher that dispatches the firmware to the edge/ gateway or IoT devices that need to be upgraded.
- Gateway-to-cloud -
a set of local edge devices are connected to a gateway that manages these devices. The gateway receives updates from a remote server. This update allows updating gateway firmware, host’s environment.
- Edge-to-gateway-to-cloud -
gateway connected to the Internet receives an update from the remote server and distribute this update to the local edge devices. Here the edge gateway is a dispatcher that downloads the firmware from the server and then dispatches to another edge/ gateway or IoT device which are under the dispatcher and needs to be upgraded.
Whereas the choice of OTA update method depends on the project and system requirements, update with a cloud gateway in a chain can be a safer and secure option.
The Role of IoT Gateway in the OTA Update
A gateway is a bridge between edge devices and the cloud; it manages traffic between networks that use different protocols. A cloud gateway performs protocol translation tasks. It also acts like a proxy server for devices on the field that do not feature wireless communication capabilities. The IoT gateway receives data from those devices and packages it for transmission over TCP/IP.
Some applications require using gateway because the remote devices do not have wireless capabilities, for example, industrial equipment, and Bluetooth devices. Devices that don’t have electrical power to perform network transmission or don’t have the processing capability of TLS also require to be connected to the gateway for updates.
Advantages of Gateway in OTA Framework:
- Decrease to loading of the Cloud.
- IoT devices upgraded in the LAN which supposes to more secure than WAN.
- Can schedule a dispatch to balance the working devices and upgrading devices while OTA is processing.
In industrial IoT applications, many systems are safety-critical and require continuous updating to meet high technical requirements to quality, security, and efficiency of industry safety standards. A system that deploys gateways for an OTA update is reliable and secure. The IoT gateway plays an important role in the process of managing remote devices. Choose wisely the right device for your application.
Learn more: IIoT & Edge Computing Solution