Microsoft’s New Services Aim to Simplify the Internet of Things

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I’ve discussed that big hurdles remain for deploying the IoT because of changing technologies, complexity of integration, lack of standards, and unprecedented data issues. IoT infrastructure typically relies on Cloud services for data management with scalability, so that IoT SaaS solutions can offer more packaging and potentially less complexity as well as faster deployment.

In that vein, Microsoft announced a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution called Microsoft IoT Central in a blog post by Sam George, Partner Director of Azure IoT. “The Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly becoming a critical aspect of doing business,” wrote Mr. George. The new service aims to simplify the software, data management, analytics, and connectivity parts of IoT and complements what Microsoft already provides via its Azure IoT Suite and other offerings.

Also new is the Azure Time Series Insights service with managed analytics, storage, and visualization to interactively and instantly explore and analyze what could be billions of events from an IoT deployment. The service is applicable to use cases needing reduced device downtime, in factories for example (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Microsoft Azure IoT Connected Factory
Fig1-Exler-Microsoft IoT blog post-21Apr2017

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft’s Cloud platform and expertise via Azure have much respect and wide use in enterprises, so those already using those solutions look to Microsoft for IoT. Deployments with remote offices or devices require edge computing connected to the Cloud. Recognizing the need for edge analytics in some use cases, Microsoft is also adding Azure Stream Analytics on edge devices. But while the introduction of edge analytics is welcome and needed in the industry, Microsoft is a bit late to the game, with Cisco, Dell, IBM, and others already offering such solutions.

There are many deployment scenarios across a wide variety of industries with a litany of devices. So without outside assistance, most enterprises are unable to address the IoT as an integrated part of Digital Business initiatives. The concept of simplicity is relative, especially in today’s rapidly changing IoT landscape and accelerating digital transformations. So despite the promised simplification from Microsoft, I suspect there will be many ongoing opportunities for partners to supplement the firm’s IoT offerings with added services and technologies. Yet making the IoT easier to implement would improve its uptake and viability in Digital Business transformations, so other technology providers should follow suit.

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