IoT hubs and how to get rid of them


More and more we rely on IoT in our daily lives. It could be our lighting solution at home, connected CO₂ meters in the office or even online smoke detectors, IoT is everywhere these days. It can make our lives easier, healthier and even more secure. But there is a but…

IoT devices are meant to be small and not require a lot of power. That is why they usually use communications protocols like Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and ZigBee. There are others of course, but for the sake of this article I’m only looking at these two.

To have the IoT device communicate with the rest of the Internet, their vendors sell gateways to do protocol translation and data parsing. These gateways are usually known as hubs or bridges. As an example, Philips Hue uses ZigBee to communicate, but if you want to use a mobile app to control the Hue devices, you need the Hue Bridge to translate the data from your network to data on the ZigBee network and vice-versa. The same goes for devices using BLE. As an example, Switchbot uses BLE and sells the Switchbot Hub that links up to your IoT devices and your Wi-Fi network to ensure communications to their Cloud services.

If you have a lot of IoT devices in your organization spread out over a large distances, you will need multiple hubs to get them all to communicate with their respective servers or Cloud services. This means another network to manage and maintain. And there might be multiple networks dependent on which protocol and which vendors are used. This is a complaint we get a lot from our customers.

Luckily, in a lot of cases there is a solution. If you already have a modern Aruba Networks WiFi6 or 6E deployment in your environment, we can use your Access Points as gateways for both your BLE and ZigBee devices. All WiFi6 and 6E access points from Aruba Networks have BLE and ZigBee radios built in and these can be used to connect to your BLE and ZigBee IoT devices and forward their data to an upstream server or send commands received from the upstream server to the connected IoT devices.

Additionally, by connecting each type of IoT device through the Aruba Networks Wi-Fi network, you will no longer need networks of vendor specific hubs and bridges and the need to maintain and manage them. On top of that, the Zero Trust Security architecture Aruba Networks is known for, will protect the complete network.

If you are thinking about acquiring IoT devices like BLE air temperature and humidity sensors or CO₂ sensors or ZigBee lighting devices, or you already have some, let us know. We might be able to help you make the correct choices to connect your IoT devices to the rest of the world.


Steven Desmets