Business use cases for Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is the best-selling British computer, with global sales reaching 19 million in 2018. However, while its fun consumer projects are famous across the internet, how can the Raspberry Pi benefit the enterprise?

raspberry pi 3
Brad Chacos

The UK’s best-selling computer of all time, the Raspberry Pi, started life at the Raspberry Pi foundation, a charity that was founded with the aim of teaching computer science in schools.

Fast-forward a decade and the Raspberry Pi single-board computer has sold over 19 million units and is now being used across the globe to enable users to learn, solve problems and just have fun. From a Reddit member connecting his Raspberry Pi to his plant’s watering can and leaving its fate in the hands of fellow Redditers, to an internet-controlled car-horn, fans of the credit card sized computer never fail to come up with new and innovate projects.

By allowing anyone in any location to build a fully-functioning computer system for an affordable price, the Raspberry Pi has also continued to promote the philanthropic intentions first set out by the foundation, providing support and funding to young people and those living in less economically developed countries to learn more about coding and computer science.

Although most large-scale and established enterprises will already have a computer system in place, for startups, small businesses or individual departments looking to introduce a new solution unique to them, getting hold of a Raspberry Pi is extremely easy and will only set you back around £30. A small price to pay in order to build something truly impressive.

Here, we look at three different enterprise solutions that you can build using a Raspberry Pi. 

Email server

Security is a topic that is often at the forefront of the IT professional's mind, no matter the size of your business. Despite phishing continuing to be one of the biggest threats facing organisations, email security is often not taken seriously enough, leaving companies vulnerable to all kinds of cybersecurity attacks.

You can set up an email server on a Raspberry Pi with relative ease, all you need is a memory card, a power supply, a static IP address and access to the Raspberry Pi via keyboard and a monitor and an internet connection. One of the key benefits of using a Pi as an email server is the security. All emails will be saved exclusively onto your Raspberry Pi, making them inaccessible to any other service or provider.

Furthermore, you will also have complete control over your email system and can set up as many email addresses or domains as you like, whilst giving you full ownership of your data and offering a high degree of flexibility.

You can find more information about building an email server on a Raspberry Pi here.

VPN

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are another way of improving your organisation’s security, re-routing your traffic through a server that is sitting in a different location to where you’re connected to the internet.

Although VPNs are primarily marketed towards consumers, there’s been a growing trend of enterprises investing in VPNs to stop outside users accessing data or to connect remote offices to the network in the head office.

Most VPN providers now offer enterprise-grade packages to cater to this new trend however, depending on the size of your organisation, they can be on the pricey side.

Armed with a £30 Raspberry Pi computer and a keyboard or monitor through which to access it, a power supply, internet access, a memory card and knowledge of what you’re actually doing, you can build your own VPN server. While this VPN won’t enable you to change the location of your IP address, it will allow you to connect external devices like a smartphone to browse the internet more securely through your home network, and access shared files and media on your home computer.

You can find more information about building a VPN on a Raspberry Pi here.

Wi-Fi router

You’d be hard pressed to find a business operating today that doesn’t have a wireless internet connection on its premises. However, there’s a very real possibility that you might want to have a separate Wi-Fi network for visitors or have the network running an alternative DNS configuration.

If you have remote workers or employees who travel a lot for their job, you might also need to provide them with a reliable internet connection. Hotel room Wi-Fi can be notoriously poor so there’s no downside to having a faster, more private alternative that you can take with you on your travels.

One option would be to simply buy a second Wi-Fi router or a hotspot, the other is to build yourself a second router on a Raspberry Pi. As with all these projects, you need a Raspberry Pi computer which can be accessed via a monitor or keyboard, an SD storage card and a power supply. For this specific creation, you’ll also need to get hold of a USB WiFi adapter.

While a router built on a Pi won’t provide you with the same level of coverage as an enterprise-grade router, for small offices and remote workers, it certainly has its benefits over buying a traditional router.

You can find more information about building a Wi-Fi router on a Raspberry Pi here.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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