During my talk at Thingmonk last week, I showed the snippet of an IoT reference architecture that I developed covering the edge gateway domain.
Since I’ve yet to find amongst the many published IoT reference architectures any that decompose the edge and because several people asked for a copy, I thought I’d share it here for people to reuse. It’s simple but hopefully useful, and provides a starting point for proper design of solutions that exploit the edge.
Architecture overview diagram
Explanation of capabilities
The reference architecture shown above describes the key set of technology and organisational capabilities required in the deployment of edge applications.
- Physical security mitigates the risk of tampering when devices are deployed in the field.
- Device platform security protects the software platform, application code and data from unauthorised access.
- The Device provides the hardware platform for application code and logic deployed at the edge.
- Analytics models describe deployed analytics logic consumed by analytics runtimes in the edge software platform.
- A Local Area Network provides the mechanism for the device to communicate with locally deployed applications, sensors and actuators, e.g. Bluetooth Low Energy, Zigbee etc.
- Local Monitoring and Management tools enable administration and break/fix by local technicians servicing the installed hardware and software.
- A Remote Monitoring and Management agent on the device enables diagnostics, monitoring and control of edge devices from the centre. This would be the preferred mode of operation since it does not require physical access to the deployed system.
- Sensors and Actuators provide the link between the assets themselves and the device.
- Assets monitored and controlled by the edge installation — i.e. the “things”.
- Local applications support business operations conducted in the field.
- An Application Runtime provides the programming environment for application logic deployed at the edge, e.g. NodeRED.
- Control code is application logic deployed in the Application Runtime to orchestrate interactions with sensors and centre.
- Sensor SDKs (Software Development Kit) facilitate development of sensor-driven applications to run at the edge by providing developer-friendly programmatic access to the sensor hardware.
- Back-end SDKs facilitate communication with the centre by providing developer-friendly programmatic access to services at the centre and/or provided by third-parties.
- A Wide Area Network connects the device to the data centre, for example via a cellular network or via wifi to the corporate network.
- Device and asset management is the central service management capability that deals with the ongoing monitoring and support for the hardware and software installation in the field.
- Device installation and maintenance is the field-based service that installs and maintains the physical device, sensors and assets deployed in the field.