Remote Gateway Management: Benefits, and how we make it happen

Key features of the AGILE gateway include the ability to provide data and device management, execution of Internet of Things (IoT) applications and, importantly, communicate with the Cloud to enable a plethora of use-cases. But there is also features that are provided “under the hood”, features such as security.

Resin.io: a not-so-silent force working alongside the AGILE gateway

For AGILE to enable user application deployment, remote updates, and monitoring of connected gateways, we are customising and will utilise a software technology built by one of the project partners called Resin.io – it is a Remote Gateway Management interface that is deployed in the Cloud, and has, amongst others, a local component that will be running on each gateway called “Agent”.

Resin.io Container used in AGILE: Enables remote management features

The Resin.io Agent works on container level, with elevated privileges to manage both the underlying Operating System (OS), but also the user-space (any applications installed). In simple scenarios, it downloads the changed layers of any application container images, stops the old versions of those applications, and starts the new ones. As the process is ongoing, you can see the overall progress of the process in a dashboard. It is fully interactive, and allows clicking on any specific gateway devices to see more detailed information about the device, such as logs.

Dashboard

Staying up-to-date: A dashboard allows you to see the current status of a gateway

The Agent, which we are customising for use in pilots and use-cases adopted by AGILE, also contains the necessary components to keep a persistent, always-on connection to the Cloud environment which controls it (over secure VPN, as we are paranoid about security!). The Agent allows, upon authorisation, anything from updating the AGILE gateway on the fly, restarting modules and applications, adding functionality as well as providing monitoring information (such as OS logs) automatically and upon request. It also enables a streamlined approach to defining environment variables or other configuration options on the gateway.

Security, as always, is paramount

By far the most important feature is its ability to receive over-the-air updates. And we believe this is extremely important on any IoT application for security reasons. Imagine your gateway, end-devices and deployed applications suffering from a bug whilst you are unable to deploy a fix remotely – and now imagine if it’s not an issue with your own code, but rather an urgent OS security vulnerability! A popular real-world example of this is the U.S. Traffic Safety Administration car recall announcement, one from Tesla Motors, and one from GM. Both are related to problems that could cause fires. Tesla’s fix can be conducted as an “over the air” software update and doesn’t require owners to bring their cars to the dealer (more on this on the Wired article here). And there are recent cases of cameras being hijacked, armies of devices used for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks… so let’s just say that it’s important for us to “have the users covered” as part of the AGILE project.

Of course, there is even more urgent need for these solutions to be secure (after all, any device which is why we are dedicating months of work, and the expertise of research and industry partners, in making sure the hardware and software stack behind AGILE is secure, end-to-end.

What does the management interface it look like?

As one our principles is to make things as easy as possible for our users, we are utilising the latest standards in Web development, User Interface (UI) design, and User Experience (UX).

Here is what you should expect to see once you get your hands on an AGILE gateway:

Device management interface: Environment Variables, Terminal, Actions (e.g. reboot)

Gateway Management

Multi-gateway management: Information on OS updates, availability, monitoring/logs

Let us know your thoughts

The AGILE consortium comprises pioneering partners in hardware and software for IoT. Resin.io has been built to bring the Cloud deployment workflow to the world of embedded devices, and the customisation for use in AGILE with an AGILE-specific gateway management system, is no exception. Along the lines, we discover and assimilate interesting ideas from the Cloud or embedded worlds, or even invent ideas that only apply to the new paradigm the project represents.

There is a lot going on behind the scenes, and we are very keen to hear from the community about features they would like to see on the Remote Gateway Management interface. The consortium partners are organising pilots that will allow IoT device manufacturers (devices that will be controlled by the AGILE gateway through its integrated network modules), as well as developers and end-users to get hands-on with our early prototypes and final hardware gateway.

Author
Georgios Michalakidis, R&D Manager, Resin.io

Posted in Technologies and tagged , , , , .

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