Microsoft launches new IoT services for the enterprise

Microsoft is launching IoT Central today, a new Internet of Things (IoT) service that gives enterprises a fully managed solution for setting up their IoT deployments withoutneeding the in-house expertise necessary for deploying a cloud-based IoT solution from scratch. Its basically IoT-as-a-Service.

In addition, the company is bringing its Azure Stream Analytics to edge devices, making it easier to provision new IoT devices, anditslaunching a completely new analytics service for time series data.

The two most importantnew services here are probably the launch of IoT Central service and the new Azure Time Series Insights tool. As Microsofts director of IoT Sam George told me, the idea here is to provide a number of new offerings that are complementary to the companys existing Azure IoT Suite. While IoT gives many companies an opportunityto differentiate their services from competitors,it still takes a specialized set of skills to enable this. While we find that IoT is a big differentiator, one of the things were finding in the broader market is that there is still a broad set of skill sets needed to implement IoT solutions, George said.

IoT Central, then, is meant to simplify the deployment of these IoT solutions. Customers here dont need any cloud solutions expertise, said George. Instead. IoT Central is fully managed by Microsoft andprovides a fully featured solution that abstracts all of the underlying infrastructures away and lets business focus on analyzing their data. It comes with pre-configured solutions for many typical use cases. What users lose, though, is the flexibility to choose their own storage service or analytics engines, for example.

Azure Time Series Insights, which is now available in preview, is actually a new database offering from Microsoft that is based on the same technology the company itself uses to log every single event on Azure (and were talking billions of events a day here). While there are plenty of exceptions, IoT data tends to arrivein a time-based fashion and Time Series Insights is purpose-built to store and interactively visualize and analyze this type ofdata to find anomalies.For developers, the service also offers an API to integrate it into existing workflows.

Microsoft also announced that its Azure Stream Analytics service can now run on edge devices. This basically means that those devices will be able to run real-time analytics locally withouthaving to send all their data to Azure first.While the cloud solution is meant to parse data from millions of devices, a single device doesnt actually produce all that much data, and even a very basic Raspberry Pihas enough power to run this service locally. Thanks to this, these devices can function even when they dont have a reliable connection to the internet.

As George told me, Microsoft believes that as IoT becomes a more mature technology, more and more of the intelligence will get pushed out to the edge and stream analytics marks Microsofts first effort in this area.

Microsoft, of course, isnt the only company playing in this field. George believes that it does have a leg up on its competitors like Google and AWS, though. When we look across the industry, we see that there are now three hyper-scale clouds on the planet, he noted. Were the only cloud vendor in IoT with a focus on both solutions and deep on-premises support with the likes of Azure Stack. We feel this really differentiates us from the competition.

Read more: