Enterprise Grade IoT Gateway

Hello all;

I run a Healthcare IoT startup and after 8 months of development, I’ve finally begun to sign enterprise contracts.

Currently, we leverage Raspberry Pi 4B’s (AARCH64) as the IoT Gateway for our ZigBee 3.0 devices (“sensor kits”). These have worked beautifully for our pilot users where it is 1:1 gateway to “sensor kit” ratio but in our enterprise deployments (assisted living facilities, memory care facilitites), we will be looking at a 1:20 gateway to “sensor kits” ratio. The applications that run on the edge are fairly simple (Zigbee2MQTT, Node-Red, MQTT and a few low-cost Python containers) but there will be an increase of 20x traffic.

I am curious for those who have made the jump to commercial deployments, is it still feasible to leverage Raspberry Pi 4B for commercial deployments? If so, how have you dealt with high-availability in the event that the board blows out or SD card gets fried? Have you left the RBPI ecosystem altogether and now rely on NVIDIA, INTEL or GOOGLE AARCH64 hardware? Coming from the RBPI world, how friendly are these ecosystems?

Would love to hear any experiences that ya’ll might have had!

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Hey @dedline congrats on your project, it must feel great to start rolling things out!

Whilst you totally can deploy these devices (and many people do) in production environments, there are definitely improvements to be had. For example, the balenaFin is a board that we’ve designed and built to address all the problems we’ve seen our customers having when deploying devices out in the field. It addresses probably the number 1 cause of problems, the SD card, by employing eMMC memory instead. It adds a more tolerant and capable power supply, PoE (passive can be used without any additional components due to the power supply), extended operating temperature etc. whilst still being fully compatible with the Pi (3) ecosystem due to the use of the compute module.

I’d guess the importance of addressing these things depends on your need for reliability and how easy the devices are to maintain. For example if replacing an SD card upon failure takes a 4 hour round trip in the car it might be worth investing in something more reliable, but if it’s something you can just put in the mail and it isn’t a problem that the device is down whilst that happens, maybe not so much. :slight_smile:

Hopefully some others will chime in with their thoughts too as this is a good topic for discussion!

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