Linking Outside the Box: Connecting Embedded Systems to Wide-Area Networks

Linking Outside the Box: Connecting Embedded Systems to Wide-Area Networks

Many embedded systems use standards-based networking technologies such as Ethernet as a robust and cost-effective way to communicate between elements. Modular systems may use backplane Ethernet to communicate between processor cards; in-vehicle networks may use Ethernet over copper cabling or fiber optics to connect between various sub-systems, computers, and sensors. Connecting these endpoints together on a local-area network (LAN) is often done by an Ethernet switch - a specialized appliance that provides high-performance any-to-any connectivity between a large number of devices. Modern switches offer an extensive set of features for managing traffic and enforcing network policies.

Connecting to an external wide-area network (WAN) can be significantly more complicated, however, requiring features that ensure security and reliability over long-distance links. To connect to a WAN, a different type of specialized networking appliance is needed – a router.

Linking Outside the Box: Connecting Embedded Systems to Wide-Area Networks

Figure 1: NFV replaces network appliances with virtualized applications

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  • Switching vs. routing
  • Embedded routers
  • Network function virtualization
  • Virtual private networks (VPNs)