Microsoft is rolling out new capabilities that simplify the customer journey and deliver secured IoT solutions that will help customers embrace IoT as a core strategy to drive better business outcomes, improve safety and address social issues by predicting and preventing equipment failures, optimizing smart buildings for space utilization and energy management, improving patient outcomes and worker safety, tracking assets across a supply chain, and more.
IoT devices are allowing companies to bring cloud intelligence to the edge and develop solutions that are adaptive and responsive to their environments. According to IDC, by 2025, 41.6 billion devices — including smartphones, smart home assistants and smart appliances — will be connected to the internet. And by 2021, 94% of businesses surveyed will be using IoT, according to a recent Microsoft IoT Signals research report and, in nearly every case (97%), those companies are concerned about potential security risks.
With this knowledge, Microsoft is investing $5B in IoT and intelligent edge — technology that is accelerating ubiquitous computing and bringing new opportunities to various industries. The company is working to address the challenge of securing connected devices at every layer while advancing IoT to create a seamless experience between the physical and digital worlds. It’s doing this in the following three ways:
Making IoT seamless
IoT Central is a fully managed IoT app platform that provides solution builders with built-in security, scale and extensibility needed to develop enterprise-grade IoT solutions. New features to IoT Central simplify challenges of building and deploying scalable and affordable enterprise applications:
- 11 new industry-focused application templates to accelerate solution builders across retail, healthcare, government and energy.
- API support for extending IoT Central or integrating it with other solutions, including API support for device modelling, provisioning, lifecycle management, operations and data querying.
- IoT Edge support, including management for edge devices and IoT Edge module deployments, which enable customers to deploy cloud workloads, including AI, directly to connected devices.
- IoT Plug and Play support, for rapid device development and connectivity.
- The ability to Save & Load applications to enable application reusability.
- More Data Export options for continually exporting data to other Azure PaaS services, such as storage for rich analytics.
- Multi-tenancy support for building and managing a single application with multiple tenants, each with their own isolated data, devices, users and roles. And updates to that single application are visible to all tenants for easy manageability.
- Custom user roles for fine-grained access control to data, actions and configurations in the system.
- New pricing model for early 2020, designed to help customers and partners have predictable pricing as usage scales.
Making IoT smarter
Azure IoT Hub helps enterprise developers reduce costs and optimize operations through IoT cloud applications. New capabilities with IoT Hub message enrichment add the ability to stamp messages coming from devices with rich information before they are sent to downstream cloud services, making integration easy. IoT Hub integrates with Azure Event Grid, making it easy to consume IoT Hub device messages from an even broader variety of downstream services.
Azure Maps customers can add geospatial weather intelligence into their applications to enable scenarios like weather-based routing, weather-based targeted marketing and weather-based operations optimization, in partnership with AccuWeather. Azure Maps will now be available on Gov Cloud, simplifying the onboarding process for customers.
Azure Time Series Insights is announcing new preview capabilities including:
- Multilayered storage provides the best of both worlds: lightning fast access to frequently used data (“warm data”) and fast access to infrequently used historical data (“cold data”).
- Flexible cold storage: Historical data is stored in a customer’s own Azure Storage account, giving customers complete control of their IoT data. Data is stored in open source Apache Parquet format, enabling predictive analytics, machine learning and other custom computations using familiar technologies including Spark, Databricks and Jupyter.
- Rich analytics: Rich query APIs and user experience support interpolation, new scalar and aggregate functions, categorical variables, scatter plots, and time shifting between time series signals for in-depth analysis.
- Enterprise-grade scale: Scale and performance improvements at all layers, including ingestion, storage, query and metadata/model.
- Extensibility and integration: New Time Series Insights Power BI connector allows customers to take queries from Time Series Insights into Power BI to get a unified view in a single pane of glass.
Through its Express Logic acquisition, Azure RTOS continues to enable new intelligent capabilities. It unlocks access to billions of new connected endpoints and grows the number of devices that can seamlessly connect to Azure. Renesas is a top microcontroller unit (MCU) manufacturer that shares our vision of making IoT development as easy and seamless as possible, and we are excited to announce that Azure RTOS will be broadly available across Renesas’ products, including the Synergy and RA MCU families. It is already integrated into the Renesas Synergy Software Package and will be integrated out of box with the Renesas RA Flexible Software Package.
Making IoT more secure
The company has also added new features to Azure Security Center for IoT with the announcement of a Security Partner program and support for national clouds, and we are excited to announce the upcoming general availability of Azure Sphere in February 2020.
Enabling a future of intelligent and secure computing at the edge for organizations, enterprises and consumers will require advances in computer architecture all the way down to the chip level, with security built in from the beginning. Microsoft Azure Sphere is taking a holistic approach to securing the intelligent edge and IoT from the silicon to the cloud in a way that gives customers flexibility and control. For example, Qualcomm recently announced a partnership with Microsoft to develop mobile hardware for Microsoft’s Azure Sphere IoT operating system.