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Secure high performance: Edge computing with INSYS icom routers

Regensburg – In cloud computing, transmission delays and batch-related latencies can slow down data processing. This is best resolved through edge computing, i.e. providing computing power for pre-processing of data on location, in between a data source and the cloud. INSYS icom has expanded the functionality of its MRX and MRO router series by implementing a powerful edge computing concept. These devices can be used to handle control, processing, monitoring and visualisation of application data directly in the field.
Pre-processed data can be transmitted to cloud services such as Cumulocity or custom platforms and services at any time. Powered by INSYS icom's edge computing concept, the routers can also virtualise hardware to consolidate IoT environments. To this end, the router series integrate the icom SmartBox, a virtual environment based on Linux containers. Edge computing applications running in this icom SmartBox are completely sealed off from the general router functionality. This could be gateway features e.g. for converting proprietary protocols into IP standards, networking functions to set up virtual DHCP or DNS servers, or management capabilities for dynamic configuration changes. If required, the applications (so-called device apps) can be run at the same time, but separately. They may be combined and support direct communication with each other, e.g. via APIs. All containers have separate, individual IP and MAC addresses, leaving all security mechanisms of the router such as network filters, VPN or network segmentation fully in place. Giving users the option to define dedicated network filtering rules (such as a firewall) for every single container provides a high level of protection for individual applications and ensures secure communications. Another benefit is that "root" users have truly unlimited root privileges when creating and managing additional user accounts and their access rights.
 
All containers use the same Linux kernel to boot their individual system. A default container can be activated with just a few clicks of the mouse. Featuring a pre-installed Linux command line environment, web server, Lua interpreter and SSH access, this default container greatly simplifies the creation and deployment of applications for the containers. The ability to encrypt application containers provides additional know-how protection for the creator of a container in the icom SmartBox.

At www.insys-icom.com/knowledge/icom-SmartBox/container, INSYS icom makes a range of demo containers with examples of applications and environments available for free use and further development: In addition to a Debian environment with a package manager, the site also provides other software such as Node-RED, Nagios or an MQTT broker. For developers who want to create their own containers, INSYS icom has placed all important information and utilities such as a complete tool chain on Github (https://github.com/insys-icom). Since they are open source, the tools provided can be flexibly adapted to a specific infrastructure in a very short time and projects that were developed e.g. on a Raspberry Pi can be rapidly ported to these professional industry-grade routers. INSYS icom also offers application development and customisation services.
 
Edge computing is a crucial component of the INSYS Smart IoT Platform, a highly pre-integrated and flexible ecosystem for M2M and IoT applications. In addition to edge computing, this multi-protocol environment enables data transfer to (mobile) field devices, the integration of customer-specific infrastructure such as a SCADA system, or the use of cloud services like Cumulocity. Interfacing with IoT platforms such as Microsoft Azure or IBM Bluemix is also enabled. More information about edge computing or the Smart IoT Platform can be found at www.insys-icom.com/knowledge/edge-computing or www.insys-smart-iot.com.
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