When it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT), many companies are promising that their solution or platform will simplify IoT. Microsoft is no exception. The company debuted Microsoft IoT Central, a managed software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for customers that do not have a lot of cloud experience.
IoT Central is built on the Azure cloud and will use Microsoft’s existing Azure IoT suite to make it easier for companies to deploy IoT. For example, Microsoft has a preconfigured product called Azure IoT Suite Connected Factory that is targeted at manufacturers to help them connect Object Linking and Embedding for Process Control (OPC) on-premises devices to the Microsoft cloud and configure those devices so they have a secure connection.
Microsoft said it has partnered with OPC companies like Unified Automation, Softing, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise to streamline the Connected Factory platform.
At the same time, the company also is introducing a new service called Azure Time Series Insights that will provide analytics, storage, and visualization to make it easier for companies to analyze all the data to discover trends and spot anomalies as well as conduct root-cause analysis.
Both IoT Central and Azure IoT Suite Connected Factory will leverage the Azure Time Series Insights, which is available for preview.
Microsoft also introduced Azure IoT Hub Device provisioning, which is also intended to simplify things for customers. Customers can register and provision their devices to the IoT Hub, and devices running on Windows 10 IoT operating systems will be able to connect to device provisioning via a client application.
Analytics at the Edge
Many IoT companies are putting more emphasis on the edge of the network to allow IoT customers better access to real-time data. Microsoft is joining that trend with the debut of Azure Stream Analytics, a feature that provides the same unified cloud experience for stream analytics from the cloud to the device. According to Microsoft, this gives organizations the ability to use streaming analytics in areas where connectivity to the cloud is limited or inconsistent.
Microsoft’s Azure Stream Analytics sounds similar to what Cisco is offering through its partnership with IBM’s Watson IoT Platform. The goal of that partnership is to provide IoT customers with better access to real-time data from the cloud to the edge of the network. In this case, Cisco’s edge routers and switches will host Watson’s IoT platform and collect IoT data.