Technology plays a crucial role in shaping a business’s growth by optimizing its operations, improving its products, engaging with its customers, and empowering its workforce. It has also been successful in disrupting a whole host of industries. One such technology stack is the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics platforms. These have been able to transform entire companies into innovative business models, owing to their rich capabilities to gain quality insights through connected data-driven solutions.
One of the major services allowing businesses to carry out this technological transformation is Microsoft’s Azure IoT which is a collection of cloud services managed by Microsoft. It connects, monitors, and controls billions of IoT devices and assets. For the uninitiated, an IoT solution is made up of numerous devices that communicate with each other and to one or more back-end services running on the cloud.
MS Azure IoT platform currently has around 23% of the IoT market share and is continuously bolstering its offerings to grow even more. Microsoft has carefully designed its Azure IoT Suite to integrate existing processes, assets, devices, and systems, which will help businesses automate many workflows and create new opportunities for innovation. Some of the key features of Azure IoT that help businesses innovate are:
- Accelerated Start-up – Azure IoT comes with many pre-configured solutions. This helps businesses get their systems up and running faster.
- Flexible Connections – Azure IoT allows connecting with a broad range of existing assets, new devices, and common operating systems.
- Predictive Intelligence – Azure IoT allows businesses to utilize advanced analytics and Machine Learning to capture new insights from their core data.
- Legacy Integrations – Azure IoT also allows businesses to integrate existing business solutions and automate various processes and data usage.
Transform Your Business with Microsoft Azure IoT
Many businesses leverage Azure IoT Suite to access, study and analyze previously untapped data from new and existing sensors, devices, and applications.
The Azure IoT Hub allows businesses to establish a secure two-way connection channel between millions of IoT assets and the cloud. It allows for device-to-cloud telemetry that helps organizations obtain device status and take actions as required. It also allows sending notifications and commands from cloud to the connected devices, which helps track delivery statuses reliably with acknowledgement receipts. It provides open-source SDKs for Windows, Linux, RTOS, and others, and also lends support for standard and custom protocols like MQTT, AMQP, and HTTP.
Packed with these features, IoT and Analytics powered by Azure IoT can help businesses drive real growth in various ways, such as:
1. Real-time Management of Critical Systems
With extensively connected IoT assets, businesses can capture a wide trove of real-time data that helps in day-to-day operations. These insights can further assist in tasks such as remote asset monitoring, real-time supply chain visibility, security and even fraud detection, which translates to better and secure operations.
2. Business-Critical Operations Extension on Mobile platform
Businesses are leveraging the enterprise mobility platform that enables real-time access to critical information through handheld devices from any location. Cross-platform mobile apps integrated with IoT and analytics-driven cloud solutions like Azure IoT deliver real-time insights on mobile devices. This data greatly helps enterprises and their consumers in taking better decisions faster.
3. Automated Work Management System
Automation, the modern backbone process for most industries, can be significantly improved when optimized with Azure IoT. It can pave the way for significant improvements in the work environment like remote field-force connectivity and employee security.
4. Disaster Planning and Recovery
Implementing IoT for disaster management using Azure IoT can prove to be game-changing. With IoT, real-time data and connected warning systems can help in effective monitoring and accurate analysis. This can help businesses make informed critical decisions fast.
5. Proper Utilization of Business Resources
IoT and analytics can work in harmony to provide businesses with reports on the utilization of available resources. Based on the observed trends, predictive planning can aid businesses in managing resource allocations that translate to efficient performance.
Businesses must also take advantage of Azure IoT consultants and analytics experts to securely connect IoT assets, analyze critical data, and present insights to the customers – in a way to drive business growth.
Leading Your Industry by Working with the Leader in IoT
According to Gartner’s recent prediction, the enterprise and automotive Internet of Things market would grow to include around 5.8 billion endpoints by the end of 2020. This is a 21% increase from 2019, which itself is expected (by Dec 2019) to be over 21.5% higher than the data from 2018.
MS Azure boasts an enticing combination of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). IaaS enables enterprises to outsource all their infrastructural needs on Azure and pay only for what they actually use. Meanwhile, PaaS allows enterprises to create their own web apps and solutions without needing to build and maintain the entire underlying groundwork and infrastructure.
MS Azure allows for the creation of applications that scale from 10 to 10 million users seamlessly without any additional coding. Azure Storage provides safe, secure, and performance-efficient storage services for large data from devices and IoT assets in the cloud. It makes the process of changing settings and using more processors for the application to use very simple.
Azure also provides SQL and NoSQL data services and built-in support to get deeper insight from the data received from various IoT devices and uncovering key insights for improving business processes and decision-making. Azure is also the only cloud platform that offers Blockchain as a Service (BaaS), Machine Learning, Bots, and Cognitive APIs capabilities.
With the aforementioned features and a plethora of other benefits, working with Azure and using the right feature set can take businesses to the next step of growth and innovation, making them leaders in their respective industries.
Get Started Building Your IoT Services
Azure has several IoT-related services in its portfolio. Selecting the right one for your requirements can be a challenging task. Some services provide templates to build a custom solution and get started quickly whereas others allow you to develop complete solutions using other services available. It all comes down to the degree of help and control you need. The following is a list of services available:
IoT Central is a SaaS solution that helps with the connection, monitoring, and management of IoT devices. To begin, you can select a template for the type of your device and then test a basic IoT Central application that the operators of the device will use. The application will also enable you to monitor the existing devices and give you the provision for new devices. This service is for simple solutions that do not require in-depth customization of services.
This service is built upon the IoT Hub. It can be used to analyze and study data that is on the device itself rather than the cloud. Moving such a workload to Edge results in fewer messages being sent to the cloud.
This service allows you to connect from your devices in the IoT to a central IoT Hub and monitor as well as control billions of IoT devices. This feature is tremendously useful if there are bi-directional communication requirements between your IoT devices and the back- This is the underlying service upon which IoT Central and IoT solution accelerators are built.
This service specializes in creating comprehensive models for the physical environment. This service enables you to model the relationships and interactions between various assets in the IoT network. For example, you can use it to predict when maintenance will be required in a factory, to monitor real-time energy requirements for an electrical grid, or to model and optimize the use of available office space.
Azure Sphere is a highly secure, high-level application platform with communication and security features built-in for connected devices in an IoT network. It comprises a secure, connected, crossover microcontroller unit (MCU), a custom high-level Linux-based operating system, and cloud-based security service.
This service enables the storage, visualization, and querying of large amounts of time-series data generated by IoT devices in a network. You can use this service in tandem with IoT Hub to study and analyze data to get greater insights.
Some actual case studies can be found at Microsoft Azure IoT Technical Case Studies.
Azure IoT: Industry’s Only End-To-End Security Solution
Microsoft Azure offers a complete cloud solution that combines a plethora of integrated cloud services such as analytics, Machine Learning, storage, security, and networking. It provides a commitment to the protection and privacy of the sensitive data of businesses and organizations.
Microsoft's systems provide continuous intrusion detection and prevention, service attack prevention, regular penetration testing, and forensic tools that help identify and mitigate threats. An extra layer of security for authorization is also provided using Multi-factor authentication. Also, for the application and the hosting provider, Microsoft offers access control, monitoring, anti-malware, vulnerability scanning, patches, and configuration management.
The solution accelerators of Microsoft Azure take advantage of the security and privacy built into the Azure platform along with the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL and OSA processes) that ensures a secure development and operation of all Microsoft software. These processes provide protection of infrastructure, network, and identity and enable management features fundamental to the security of any solution.
The Azure IoT Hub within the IoT solution accelerators offers an end-to-end service that enables businesses to set up a reliable and secure bi-directional communication between IoT devices and Azure services such as Machine Learning and Stream Analytics by using security credentials and access-control on a per-device basis.
Why Choose Microsoft Azure IoT?
Leveraging Azure cloud services that are deeply integrated, businesses can rapidly build, deploy, and manage their IoT applications with ease. Azure comes with support for a wide range of programming languages, frameworks, operating systems, databases, and devices. This allows enterprises to utilize these tools effectively. Some of the key reasons why Azure IoT can be the most optimal solution are:
1. Comprehensive portfolio
Microsoft has built a comprehensive portfolio that comprises of different types of services aimed at supporting the needs of all customers and enabling everyone to access the benefits of digital transformation. The Azure IoT product portfolio contains various PaaS and SaaS services that include enterprise-grade preconfigured solutions to help enterprises get IoT applications up and running.
2. Bring IoT to any device, any platform
Azure IoT supports a plethora of platforms so that businesses can use the services offered on any platform without the need to switch. The Azure IoT SDKs are a set of libraries that can be used to interact with the IoT Hub and the Device Provisioning Service. It has a broad range of language and platform support. The SDKs work seamlessly on most common and popular platforms and developers can port the C SDK to a desired specific platform by following the Porting Guidance.
3. Rely on a commitment to IoT
Microsoft has made a commitment to build a trusted, easy-to-use platform for businesses to build comprehensive and sophisticated IoT solutions, regardless of where the business is in their IoT journey. Businesses like Starbucks, Chevron, Walmart, Walgreens, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota and much more use Azure as their cloud platform with IoT and are satisfied with the solutions.
4. Get trusted support
Azure provides comprehensive documentation, Support FAQs, Azure Advisors, and many other forms of support. They also provide services ranging from testing, trial, and development support for business-critical functions.
5. Microsoft is investing $5 billion in IoT
In April 2018, Microsoft outlined plans to make a substantial investment in IoT technology, setting aside $5 billion to grow its IoT ecosystem that is smarter and to further build on existing products and services.
With the aforementioned benefits, Azure IoT is currently one of the most comprehensive, optimal, and high-quality IoT solutions available.
IoT has the potential to alter the way businesses function and operate. From automating tasks to allowing machines to learn the behavior and carry out actions based on recorded data, all the technologies that make these tasks possible are available with Microsoft’s Azure IoT. Implementing IoT in the day-to-day processes and functioning of a business using a sophisticated platform like Azure IoT could prove to be the difference between sticking to the status quo (resulting in sluggish growth) and achieving exponential gains.
With Microsoft investing so heavily on its IoT offerings, it is a great time and opportunity for businesses all over the world, big or small, to adopt IoT in their operations and move towards sustainable growth.