Ben Tucker, Senior Product Manager | Digi International | Hopkins, MN USA
The management of devices in connected environments continues to rapidly advance and evolve. Digi International is committed to being at the forefront when it comes to supporting users with cutting edge IoT solutions.
For many years, customers have used Digi AnywhereUSB® products for USB connectivity over IP – with the ability to connect USB peripheral devices anywhere on a local area network (LAN) without a locally-attached host computer. These products have supported thousands of customers who needed to connect USB devices over the network in space-constrained or challenging environments.
With the roll-out of the new Digi AnywhereUSB Plus family, customers now have a faster, more powerful product with many enhancements. We will cover the differentiating features of this product family.
The Digi AnywhereUSB Plus family offers secure, scalable USB connectivity via local, remote or virtualized hosts. This functionality enables USB peripheral devices to connect to a PC over IP or an LTE network.
The Challenge: Connect and Manage Devices Across the Enterprise
Enterprises that need device connectivity include everything from factories and supply chain services to hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, medical facilities, banks and computer/networking/IoT solutions providers. They need to deploy, configure, virtualize, manage, test and charge devices efficiently and securely to reduce the risk of security breaches and eliminate misplaced equipment.
Devices to connect and manage include:
- Smart phones
- Medical devices
- License dongles
The proliferation of USB peripherals and smart devices presents challenges for the IT teams that must manage them:
1.Not enough USB ports on host computers to support all of devices for charging, configuration or updates.
2.The devices are located or used at wide-reaching locations across the enterprise – beyond typical reach of USB cables.
3.Managing updates is an inefficient process due to the number and variety of devices in use.
4.Placing computers in locations where USB devices are costly or difficult to use, based on factors such as the number of devices or the environmental conditions.
A Use Case: Point-of-Sale Device Connectivity
Whether aware of it or not, we come across multiple USB peripherals and connected assets in our everyday lives, such as when we dine out.
For example, a restaurant will have order entry stations in one or more locations with multiple connected devices, such as a monitor, credit card scanner, receipt printer and other POS devices. And the kitchen crew uses another set of devices for managing orders.
Therefore, a restaurant requires two different sets of equipment:
•One consists of an order entry station with a monitor, cash drawer, credit card reader and receipt printer. In some scenarios, servers enter orders into mobile handheld devices.
•The other set of equipment consists of a bump bar with monitor and ticket printer in the kitchen area.
All of these devices must connect to a computer attached to a LAN. When a server enters an order into the system, an alpha-numeric monitor in the kitchen displays each line item, so that the kitchen staff knows what to prepare. Since the monitor receives its data from the order entry stations, the monitor must either be connected to the order entry device, or to a separate computer on the LAN.
However, placing a computer in the kitchen is not desirable because of the harsh environmental conditions, and deploying multiple computers is not cost-effective.
The Solution: Digi AnywhereUSB Plus with USB over IP Connectivity
Now all of these devices can be managed from a computer located in a secure office or equipment rack. The business can place the right AnywhereUSB Plus for each location within the restaurant, and connect the USB hubs to the computer wirelessly.
Because they have no fans or moving parts, the AnywhereUSB Plus devices are not susceptible to environmental challenges such as grease, heat or bumping. Additionally, any handheld USB devices can be plugged into the AnywhereUSB Plus hub at night for charging.
In multi-device environments or field applications, administrators can take advantage of the remote device monitoring and management capabilities of Digi Remote Manager®.
Restaurant Setup – USB devices
The restaurant scenario is just one example, but it represents the challenges: multiple devices – some stationery and some potentially mobile – that need to connect over the LAN. To perform their expected functions, these applications require secure connectivity, higher speed connections and port densities, and the flexibility to allow different systems to connect to USB devices.
Digi AnywhereUSB Plus addresses these issues with secure, scalable USB over IP connectivity via local, remote or virtualized hosts. This functionality enables USB peripheral devices to connect to a PC over an IP, or over an LTE network.
Form Factors for Varying Needs
Digi AnywhereUSB Plus comes in three form factors: 2-port, 8-port and 24-port. AnywhereUSB 24 Plus is rack mountable with 24 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and two Gigabit/10 Gigabit Ethernet ports for backup redundancy. AnywhereUSB 8 Plus offers one Gigabit/10 Gigabit Ethernet port and is designed for desktop use, and AnywhereUSB 2 Plus offers 2 ports and Gigabit Ethernet with DIN rail or panel mounting options.
In addition to faster speeds, AnywhereUSB Plus products offer additioanl enhancements over the original AnywhereUSB product line:
•Built-in Digi TrustFence® security framework for multi-point security management.
•Integrated Digi Remote Manager® (DRM), a comprehensive IoT device management application that provides remote monitoring, ability to perform mass updates across device deployments, and automated configuration management to thwart non-authorized configuration changes.
Together, these features provide additional levels of control over the configuration, security, monitoring and management of all the devices on your network.
For additional product information, visit the AnywhereUSB Plus page on Digi.com.
There is More to Come
In the near future, Digi will be introducing Wi-Fi connectivity. The 8-port and 24-port versions currently provide hardware support for future deployment of Digi’s suite of CORE Plug-In LTE modems.