Wireless Applications

Arch Rock’s New Software Targets Monitoring Service Providers

November 12, 2008

PhyNet 3.5 enables the encryption and authentication of sensor data over a WAN, allowing the data to pass through corporate Internet connection boundaries or small business and residential cable and DSL gateways.


SAN FRANCISCO /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- A new version of software for Arch Rock's IP-based PhyNet wireless sensor network (WSN) platform enables companies that provide sensor-based monitoring and management services to build large-scale, multi-customer WSNs that securely reach across customer firewalls to access and centrally manage WSN data. Each customer's data stays private, and existing security settings protecting the rest of the organization's networks and IT assets remain intact.

Arch Rock PhyNet 3.5 adds support for Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) and Network Address Translation (NAT) traversal to the PhyNet Router and PhyNet Server. This enables the encryption and authentication of sensor data over the WAN, allowing that data to pass securely through corporate Internet connection boundaries or small business and residential cable and DSL gateways. This extends the PhyNet architecture beyond the enterprise to service provider organizations that provide real-time monitoring and/or control services for home or commercial energy systems, brown field development sites, high-end agricultural crops, and many others. Providers can now aggregate any number of customer-resident WSNs onto a single PhyNet Server at the provider's site, simplifying deployment and reducing infrastructure costs.

PhyNet 3.5 also provides a number of other new service provider-oriented features for more efficient deployment, remote management, and diagnostics.

Collecting Multiple Remote Customers' Data
Arch Rock CEO Roland Acra said, "The innovation of PhyNet's tiered architecture was to let enterprises physically separate individual sensor networks from the server-based functions that control them. For the first time, the server could be thousands of miles away across a WAN link from the router-connected sensor nodes.

"That power is now being extended to service providers who want to collect and analyze multiple customers' sensor data but need to reach through those customers' firewalls without compromising the security of their data as it moves over the public Internet. With IPsec and NAT traversal implemented in the PhyNet Router and PhyNet Server, these providers can get past those firewalls while assuring their customers of the best possible security. An environmental management firm can monitor toxic-waste levels at many distant sites, an energy management firm multiple corporate campuses, a security management firm multiple customers' alarm systems."

In a service provider deployment of PhyNet, the PhyNet Server—used for setup, diagnostics, and management of all WSNs—sits at the service provider's site, connected via WAN links (typically over the Internet) to PhyNet Routers behind firewalls at customer sites. With AES-128-based link-level encryption and node authentication already available on individual local PhyNet WSN mesh networks, the addition of IPsec and NAT traversal provide a complete solution for secure, end-to-end communication from node to router to server. NAT traversal leaves the customer's existing security scheme fully intact, with no configuration changes to home or company gateways needed for the service provider to access the customer network.

New Features Ease Service Provider WSN Deployments
PhyNet 3.5 software includes a number of other new router and node features to aid the service provider in managing large, diverse networks of customer WSNs.

  • The PhyNet Router registration process has been enhanced to let service providers pre-enter the PhyNet Server address on the router, eliminating any router configuration at the customer site and thus making the router fully plug-and-play at the customer site. Once on site, routers can be easily moved between buildings and sub-networks with no reconfiguration.

     

  • New PhyNet Router statistics reports allow improved visibility to assist the service provider in doing remote management, troubleshooting, and problem diagnosis for the customer.

     

  • New node-specific diagnostics reporting facilitates troubleshooting on a node-by-node basis.

     

  • Pre-loaded applications on nodes increase the nodes' ability to accommodate multiple target applications at different times (e.g., sensing vs. control applications).

About the PhyNet Wireless Sensor Network Architecture
In PhyNet's tiered IP architecture, a PhyNet Server is connected via LAN or WAN links to one or more PhyNet routers, which are connected via IETF 6LoWPAN (IPv6 low-power wireless personal-area networks) over IEEE 802.15.4 radio links to a collection of sensing and control nodes organized into meshed WSNs. The server displays sensor data on a Web-based console or presents it as a Web service, letting users run applications and do WSN set-up, diagnostics, and management. The routers form an internetworking backbone between the server-hosted applications and the WSNs. Within each WSN are IPsensor Nodes, which connect to analog or pulse-count sensors and switches to measure or control conditions such as temperature, motion, humidity, solar radiation levels, light, and additional physical phenomena, such as soil moisture or acidity, soil or below-surface well-head conditions, utility meters, and liquid flows; and IPserial Nodes, which connect to smart digital sensors (e.g., weather stations, digital meters, biometric equipment), data loggers, and sensing/control systems that use serial legacy wired buses.

Availability
PhyNet 3.5 software is available immediately as a standard feature of all PhyNet WSNs that include a PhyNet Server, PhyNet Routers, and Arch Rock nodes.

About Arch Rock
Arch Rock Corp. is a pioneer in open standards–based wireless sensor network technology. The company's products, which gather data from the physical world and integrate it into the enterprise IT infrastructure using IP networking and Web services, are used in environmental monitoring, tracking and logistics, industrial automation, and control. Arch Rock's founders, while at the University of California-Berkeley and Intel Research, did seminal research and development work on WSNs, creating three generations of wireless sensor nodes, mesh networking protocols, and a leading operating system for sensor networks.


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