Azure IoT Hub General Availability: An Overview of the Hub & the Opportunity

posted in: Cloud/SAAS | 0

by Dann Anthony Maurno, Assistant Editor

IoT example - trucking
From a Microsoft demo of an Azure IoT Suite Fleet Management scenario 

Microsoft’s Azure IoT Hub reached general availability last week and added a range of new features beyond what was in the public preview.

As described in a new blog post from Nayana Singh, Sr. Program Manager, Azure IoT, the full feature set includes:

  • Bulk device identity import/export, which enables bulk import of device IDs into an IoT Hub’s device registry, or export/import into another IoT Hub for failover.
  • Operations monitoring, enabling users to monitor the status of operations on their IoT Hub real-time.
  • Diagnostic metrics, aimed at providing better data on the state of the Azure resources in your subscription; also on the health of your IoT Hub and the devices connected to it.
  • Native support for MQTT, meaning no protocol gateway is needed.
  • AMQP over WebSockets where firewall requirements previously blocked AMQP use.
  • Availability in three new regions, being Southeast Asia, West Europe and West US, in addition to East Asia, East US and Northern Europe.

Those updates are in addition to capabilities provided in the public preview like per-device authentication, device libraries, and support for IoT protocols.

“This service provides capabilities for securely connecting, provisioning, updating and sending commands to devices. IoT Hub enables companies to jumpstart their IoT projects by controlling millions of IoT assets running on a broad set of operating systems and protocols,” writes Singh.

IoT is front-and-center in Dynamics roadmaps and value propositions, so these generally available capabilities ought to bolster the Dynamics ERP and CRM story. In a recent MSDynamicsWorld webcast, Microsoft industry director Colin Masson and program manager Mai-Britt Winther discussed how the new Dynamics AX will help manufacturers improve operations by leveraging the full range of Microsoft’s ERP, machine learning, and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities.

The “things” that now have unique URLs and feedback mechanisms are whatever matters most to your business, for example, key pieces of equipment if you’re a manufacturer, pallets and truckloads if you are in distribution, patients if you’re a hospital.

Expanded features in IoT Hub

More information is available in Microsoft’s IoT Hub developer guide or in Azure.com documentation.

The partner opportunity

Elsewhere, on the Microsoft Partner Network blog, Corporate VP Phil Sorgen of the Worldwide Partner Group detailed the IoT opportunity for Microsoft partners.

Sorgen begins by saying “The economic opportunity created by the [IoT] is massive,” and cited some stats. Among them, IDC predicts global IoT spending to reach $1.3 trillion by 2019, while McKinsey estimates a total potential economic impact of up to $11.1 trillion by 2025. McKinsey expects B2B applications have the potential to generate nearly 70% of the total potential value unlocked by IoT.

So, says Sorgen:

To help with the process, we’re making investments in the technology itself, in connecting you with trusted solutions and verified partners, and in helping you mature your IoT practice. We want to help you make the transition from thinking to participating, so you’re positioned to make the most of this massive market opportunity.

Windows 10 and Microsoft Azure are both key to realizing the business benefit of the IoT. As Sorgen describes it, “Windows 10 powers secure, connected devices collecting massive amounts of data. Then the power of Azure analytics unlocks business insights, helping our shared customers.”

On top of that, Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite in September 2015. As Sorgen describes:

Its preconfigured solutions were built to address common IoT scenarios like remote monitoring and asset management. This automation of standard operations can simplify and speed deployments for partners and their customers. Partners like ICONICS are already leveraging Azure for their IoT solutions, and businesses like Satalyst are using the Azure IoT Suite to accelerate results.

Updates to the Azure IoT Suite, released in December, now include a preconfigured solution for predictive maintenance, turning vast amounts of data into actionable business insights.

Microsoft is further working with hardware partners to ensure IoT solutions from global technology leaders are fully interoperable. At present, Microsoft is working with Arduino, Beagleboard, Freescale, Intel, Raspberry Pi, Samsung, and Texas Instruments, among others, toward Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT designation.

Business-building resources

Microsoft built the Azure IoT Practice Building Portal for MPN partners aimed at building successful IoT practices.

The portal focuses on five key areas:

  • Providing an on-demand concierge service: Email [email protected] for guidance on any benefits or resources Microsoft offers.
  • Training and marketing materials, including customer-ready whitepapers, presentations, demos.
  • Best practices
  • P2P and Microsoft engagement on MSDN forums, blogs and in Yammer communities and more.
  • An IoT solution showcase called the Azure IoT Partner Directory, which resides on the customer-facing site, www.InternetofYourThings.com.
About Dann Anthony Maurno

Dann Anthony Maurno is a seasoned business journalist who began his career as International Marketing Manager with Lilly Software, then moved on as a freelancer to write for such prestigious clients as CFO Magazine; Compliance Week;Manufacturing Business Technology; Decision Resources, Inc.; The Economist Intelligence Unit; and corporate clients such as Iron Mountain, Microsoft and SAP. He is the co-author of Thin Air: How Wireless Technology Supports Lean Initiatives(CRC/Productivity Press, 2010).

Dann can be reached at [email protected].