A protocol gateway is a device or software that enables communication between different protocols. Sometimes, these are known as protocol converters or protocol translators. As requirements in networking developed and the number of connected devices increased it wasn’t always possible for them to communicate with each other, even with the introduction of open, standardised protocols and so protocol gateways became crucial.
What do protocol gateways do?
Protocol gateways act as intermediaries between devices and systems that use different communication protocols. Their main function is to enable seamless communication and interaction between these devices, even if they operate on incompatible protocols. Many industrial systems or devices may be built using proprietary protocols or older legacy protocols that are no longer widely supported. Protocol gateways allow these systems to communicate with modern devices or networks that use contemporary protocol. They can connect a range of devices such as robots and control systems to any industrial network.
How do protocol gateways work?
Protocol gateways work by translating data from one protocol to another. This allows devices and systems that use different protocols to communicate with each other.
The process of translation is typically performed in two steps:
Parsing: The gateway parses the incoming data from the source protocol. This involves breaking the data down into its constituent parts and understanding the meaning of each part.
Encoding: The gateway then encodes the parsed data into the target protocol. This involves converting the data into a format that the target protocol can understand.
The gateway typically stores a database of known protocols and their associated data structures. This database allows the gateway to quickly and efficiently parse and encode data from different protocols.
In addition to translating data, protocol gateways can also perform other task such as filtering unwanted or malicious content, data logging and implement security features including encryption and authentication to protect data in transit.
What are the benefits of using a protocol gateway?
One of the main advantages of using a protocol gateway is that it enables interoperability between systems that use different communication protocols. This means that devices or applications using one protocol can communicate seamlessly with devices or applications using a different protocol, reducing the need for custom integration.
Legacy system integration
Many older systems and devices may use outdated or proprietary protocols that are not compatible with modern standards. This can make it difficult to integrate these systems with newer systems and applications. However, a protocol gateway can act as a bridge between these systems, enabling them to communicate with each other. This can help to avoid the costly and time-consuming process of replacing older systems.
In large-scale systems, different components may use specialised protocols that are optimised for specific tasks. This can be beneficial for performance and efficiency, as each component can use the protocol that is best suited for its needs. However, it can also make it difficult to scale the system and to integrate new components.
Add an extra layer of security by isolating and protecting critical systems from direct exposure to external networks. Protocol gateways can act as intermediaries, filtering and validating data before forwarding it to the appropriate systems.
When multiple protocols coexist within a network, managing and maintaining communication between them can become complex. A protocol gateway simplifies this process by acting as a centralised conversion point, reducing overall system complexity.
Overall, protocol gateways are an effective way to achieve seamless communication, integration, and interoperability in complex and diverse technology environments. They offer numerous benefits that are crucial for the efficient operation of modern interconnected systems.
Protocal gateway products available from Routeco
HMS Anybus V2 is a wireless bridge that allows you to create an industrial wireless connection in an industrial Ethernet network. It can communicate via both Bluetooth and Wireless LAN, and is ideal for communication through hazardous areas or hard-to-reach locations where cables are not desirable. See the HMS product range here.
ProSoft Technology's PLX31 gateways are a family of industrial Ethernet gateways that allow you to connect different automation protocols together. They are designed for small to medium-sized applications, and they offer a wide range of features that make them ideal for a variety of industrial automation tasks. See the ProSoft Technology range here.
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