7 ways to use Raspberry Pi in enterprise IT

7 ways to use Raspberry Pi in enterprise IT

From team-building exercises to low-cost security and Kubernetes experiments, consider these ways enterprise IT pros can use Raspberry Pi  devices

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While pie may or may not be the next big adventure in pandemic baking, Raspberry Pi has been growing as a trend among enterprise IT pros for years.

Beloved for its low cost, flexibility, and ease of use, Raspberry Pi devices have enabled teams to create, experiment, test, and add value to the work they are doing. As the end of the year approaches, consider how Raspberry Pi can help your team connect in new ways while building value for the future.

Raspberry Pi: 7 uses to consider

Raspberry Pi is "a great tool for when you want to make something and don’t know where to start."

“The Raspberry Pi could be the computer of the Coronavirus pandemic, as it allows tech enthusiasts to build something that is completely unique to them, in the size of a credit card," says Chans Weber, founder and CEO of Leap Clixx. "For IT professionals, you can do a lot of coding and development with the Raspberry Pi, making it a great tool for when you want to make something and don’t know where to start. Using a Raspberry Pi as the base, you can load everything that you would need on. The tools inside the computer can be literally anything, so the possibilities are endless.” 

Check out the ideas below.

1. Team building

“Shortly after finishing Genus (2018 video game), I wanted a method to share what I’d learned in the realm of C++ programming and IoT. What better way to make this happen than by getting our team’s hands dirty and building a life-sized version of the console’s screen? In less than a month, we ordered off-the-shelf parts, identified some open source libraries, ran through rapid experimentation, packed up our parts, and flew to our office in Costa Rica to kick off our first build event. We used Raspberry Pis to create a custom LED screen and open sourced the project."

"This project was done in 2019 and its purpose was to prove the model of the Open Source mindset, invest in our team, and reinforce our culture of innovation. Within three months, we went from idea to deployment in our Costa Rica and Romanian offices."

"During that event, I got to witness the growth of one of our junior QA engineers. When we started the project, she had no experience using Linux, let alone managing the Raspberry Pi or compiling code. I walked her through the set up on one of these devices, and she replicated those steps on her own, getting more comfortable with the process after each iteration. By the end of the night, she was able to teach a lead engineer how to do the very things she learned that day. All of this was in the spirit of the Raspberry Pi foundation, whose mission is to help everyone develop a maker mindset.” - Jay Garcia, co-founder and managing partner of Modus Create. (See a video montage of the event)

[ Want Raspberry Pi projects to try at home? Check out these five cool project ideas. ] 

2. Handling office tasks from AI to MVPs

“Raspberry Pi helps us with some of the AI/ML use cases that need to interact with the real world. In one case, we needed to monitor the entrances to a room in order to time tag those entrances and also photograph the people coming into the room. We built a face detection algorithm that communicated with Raspberry Pi in real time to capture images of the people entering the room. If the AI algorithm did not recognize the person, it asked Raspberry Pi to lock the door."

"In another case, we used a Raspberry Pi for an MVP (minimal viable product) in a shipping fulfillment center – to read package labels, process them, and depending on the destination, to sort and route packages to their next destination.” - Dr. J. Ghorbani, instructor, Raspberry Pi (and other courses) at DevelopIntelligence, a Pluralsight Company

3. Setting up a web server

“The Raspberry Pi is an incredibly powerful piece of hardware, especially considering it's very small in size. While there are multiple uses for them, some of the best for businesses are using it as a web server or as a bot for social media. Having this small machine as the backbone of your website is incredible, and having automated content sent to your followers so that related content can be shared even when no one is in the office is incredibly powerful. I’ve personally set up a few in my time, but the best use has to be using it to host your site." - Daniel Foley, founder and SEO consultant

4.Monitoring security

“Raspberry Pis have been an essential part of my security toolkit since they were released in 2012. Over the years I have used Raspberry Pis to do everything from running an AirDrop HoneyPot at Defcon to using it as a portable system to hack cars."

“Here are some of the most practical ways I have used Raspberry PI:

  • Build a security operations center (SOC) dashboard: Even if you don’t have a fully staffed SOC you can still build an amazing dashboard to monitor your network.
  • Block malicious traffic: Pi Hole is one the best open source security projects on the internet. It provides enterprise quality content filtering for free (although, support it if you can). You may even think about sneaking one of these on your relatives’ malware prone network the next time they call you over for support.
  • Run your own VPN: PiVPN makes setting up a VPN for your personal use amazingly easy. You can use this to access systems while you are away or just to stay more secure on public wifi.
  • Build a magic mirror: This is probably the least practical but most useful item on this list. I love my magic mirror and its ability to give me a quick overview of my calendar, news and weather.” - Jerry Gamblin, manager of security and compliance at Kenna Security

5. Cutting costs: Think NAS devices and security camera servers

“I have been active in IT for several years and have set up several projects with Raspberry Pis in my organization. One way we use Raspberry Pi computers in our organization is as NAS (Network-Attached Storage) devices. For applications where demands are not too high (e.g., simple file sharing within a department or company) a Raspberry Pi with one or more hard drives is ideal. The cost of professional-grade NAS equipment can sometimes be hard to justify for these purposes. With their low price, Raspberry Pis are significantly more attractive options.

A second purpose for Raspberry Pis in our organization is as a security camera server. Just like NAS devices, NVR (Network Video Recorder) boxes are expensive. Using a Raspberry Pi as NVR hardware brings significant cost savings. Using a Raspberry Pi on the same local network as the cameras also gives us several advantages compared to using a remote server. The most significant benefit is that with everything on the same local network, there is no need to open up any connections to the outside. This takes away one possible security concern.” - Tim Koster, founder of CleverCreations

6. Just for fun

“Our office uses a Raspberry PI for face recognition, and it’s connected to an electronic lock to our door. It also notifies us if someone’s at the door. It’s not so much about security, as it was about us testing an AI model we built. Also, we implemented voice functions that only work on my voice. I use this to change the lighting in the office, mostly to mess with my team! Looking at it now, it’s a fun and useful addition to our office.” - Michael Yurushkin, Ph.D. in Physics and Mathematics, CTO and Founder, Brouton Lab

7. Building a Kubernetes cluster

If you want to learn about Kubernetes or experiment with it, Raspberry Pi devices offer an easy, affordable path to knowledge and experience. A group of Raspberry Pi devices can simulate the nodes that host containerized workloads in a Kubernetes cluster. Read all about how to do it: See How Raspberry Pi and Kubernetes work together and this step-by-step by guide to installing a Kubernetes cluster on three or more Raspberry Pi machines, from Opensource.com.

[ Want to learn more ? Get the eBooks: Raspberry Pi: How to Get Started and Running Kubernetes on Your Raspberry Pi Homelab. ]

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Carla Rudder is a writer and editor for The Enterprisers Project. As content manager, she enjoys bringing new authors into the community and helping them craft articles that showcase their voice and deliver novel, actionable insights for readers.  Previously, Carla worked at a PR agency with clients across the digital marketing and technology industry.

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