A gateway is a stopping point on a network that facilitates data as it travels to and from other networks. Simply put, gateways enable entry into different networks on the Internet so users can send emails, visit websites and more.
In most homes, the gateway is the modem that internet service providers (ISPs) give users so they access their network. For ISPs, their gateway is the computer that handles all of the data traffic that they send and receive.
Gateways play an important role in IoT systems as well, acting as the intermediary connection point between IoT devices like sensors and the cloud.
These stopping points are especially useful for IoT projects that cover a wide range, such as those seen in manufacturing or agriculture.
Many of the IoT-connected sensors associated with these industries need low power usage, as they are meant to send small, infrequent data loads.
However, covering a wide range typically requires a large power usage, as data must be sent from the IoT-connected devices to the cloud for storage and analytics.
By employing a gateway, these sensors only need to send the collected data to the gateway, which can then backhaul the findings to the cloud.
Similarly, in situations with hundreds of different IoT-connected sensors and devices, there are often different transmission and communications protocols being used. These could range from cellular and wifi, to Bluetooth and Zigbee.
Gateways solve this issue by communicating with each device in its respective protocol, and translating the gathered information to the cloud in a singular protocol like MQTT.
Plus, gateways can reduce the strain put on the cloud by filtering some of the data that is being collected by the IoT-connected sensors.
For instance, transmitting sensor data that hasn’t changed in multiple years is a waste of time and money. Gateways can pre-process this information before it is transferred to the cloud, drastically reducing the storage load.