The most important consideration when choosing a cloud gateway

February 28, 2019
Bennie de Wet

In our previous post, I looked at the evolution of commercial and industrial equipment, the advent of device data, and the rise of the BMS. I also looked at the next logical step for BMS data, the cloud, and the pivotal role that cloud gateways play in cloud-enabling devices. 


Ultimately, the cloud is the next logical step for device data, enabling equipment manufacturers and equipment owners to think outside the building by making device data accessible from anywhere. This can deliver incredible benefits to both the equipment owner and manufacturer. Cloud gateways are the solutions that can help take legacy equipment and newer equipment that doesn’t connect to the cloud, and make them cloud-enabled. 


Cloud-enabling equipment is a relatively new concept. Many OEMs may want to cloud-enable their devices, but may not know where to start. They may also have questions about what to look for in a gateway. Let’s look at one feature that I feel is essential and that every OEM should be looking for in their cloud gateway. 


More clouds are better than less clouds 

The concept of the cloud can be hard to define. That’s because the cloud is somewhat all-encompassing and there is an immense appetite for cloud solutions. This has resulted in a wide cross section of technology companies wanting to call themselves, “cloud companies.” 


There are the clouds in the literal sense, such as the multitenant clouds offered by companies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google. Then there are applications that are hosted in the cloud and offered as a service. Then there are device clouds. 


Many of the cloud gateway solutions connect devices and move device data into what has been called a “device cloud.” These device clouds are really device management clouds, they make it easy to see and manage devices connected to the cloud. Within these device clouds, equipment owners and OEMs can see all of their connected devices. 


Using a device cloud, OEMs and equipment owners can see if their equipment is online or offline. They can see if they’re performing at their best. If they’re not performing optimally, the OEM or equipment owner can then login  through the device cloud to get detailed information and make any necessary changes to the equipment settings. 


While these device clouds enable a lot of capability for the user, there are more capabilities to be found elsewhere. Device clouds are great for enabling transparency into device performance and providing remote management of devices, but other applications could utilize the equipment data being sent to the device cloud to enable even more advanced capabilities. 


Cloud-hosted software solutions, from advanced big data and data analytics solutions to CRM solutions, could take the device data and generate insights or advanced capabilities that simply aren’t available in a device cloud. These cloud applications can analyze  that data and do something truly meaningful with it. 


This is why one of the single most important considerations for choosing a cloud gateway is its ability to work with multiple clouds. 


But it’s not the only reason. There’s also the issue of vendor lock-in. 


No OEM or equipment owner wants to be locked into a single vendor relationship. It leaves the company vulnerable to price increases, and  reliant on a company that could go out of business, be acquired or change its business model. By choosing a cloud gateway that can work with multiple clouds, the OEM and equipment owner have the freedom to move their device data into a cloud and cloud vendor of their choosing, helping to eliminate vendor lock-in and giving them more freedom and flexibility. 


The cloud is the future for BMS and device data. It’s enabling OEMs and equipment owners to think outside the building and gain massive benefits from accessing, aggregating, and analyzing their data, while also giving them increased transparency and control of remote devices. Cloud gateways are the key to cloud-enabling new and legacy equipment, but not all cloud gateways are made equal. 


The ability for a cloud gateway to work with multiple clouds is essential for OEMs and equipment owners that want to get the most out of their device and BMS data. It’s also essential for giving them the flexibility and agility they need in their operations by not tying them to a single cloud vendor. 

To learn more about how cloud-enabling equipment can generate benefits and increase revenue for equipment manufacturers, click HERE to download a complimentary copy of the ABI Research report, “Equipment Manufacturers Turn Cloud Connectivity into Competitive Advantage.”   

Bennie de Wet
Bennie de Wet leads Sierra Monitor Corporation’s product and technology development activities as Chief Technology Officer and is the Managing Director for Sierra Monitor South Africa. He has been instrumental in developing Sierra Monitor’s Sentry IT and FieldServer product lines over the last 15 years. Bennie has worked for over 25 years across all areas of industrial control, encompassing all aspects of the stack from embedded development of protocol drivers to design of controller logic to web services and cloud connectivity. Bennie started his career at Kentron and De Beers. Bennie holds a Bachelor's degree in Electronics Engineering with Honors from the University of Pretoria.

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