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Microsoft Rolls Out Limited Preview of Azure Intelligent Systems Service

Microsoft announced a limited public preview of its Azure Intelligent Systems Service this month.

The service is part of an "Internet of things" concept at Microsoft that brings together a number of its software tools and services. Those components include Windows Embedded for devices, the Microsoft Azure cloud computing infrastructure, Power BI for Office 365 for data analysis and HDInsight, which is Microsoft's Hadoop "big data" implementation. Microsoft is already working with telent and CGI on using information from sensors in London's Underground train system as part of this concept, according to Barb Edson, general marketing manager for Windows Embedded, in a blog post.

Edson sees the Intelligent Systems Service concept as applying to the healthcare, manufacturing and retail industries, in which insights are derived by pulling data from devices. She claims that enterprises also can use their existing Windows infrastructures to gain insights from machine data as well. Microsoft's partner community will be able to expand upon the new Azure Intelligent Systems Service capabilities, offering support and services, she noted.

Microsoft envisions four scenarios for its Internet-of-things concept, according to Clemens Vasters, a product architect for Microsoft Azure:

  • Data storage, analysis and machine learning
  • Service-assisted trustworthy communication
  • Actor-based high-scale computing
  • Federated identity and access control

The data storage and analysis scenario might be employed to collect vast amounts of data for real-time analysis via Hadoop, such as complex event processing for financial analyses. Alternatively, it can be used to support data-at-rest analyses or machine learning, according to Vasters, in a Microsoft-produced video.

Vasters described the "actor-based high-scale computing" scenario as something that might be used by gaming applications. He defined it as a "scale-appropriate compute model for service-side logic complementing device functionality on a per-device basis."

He also offered a more practical example of how Microsoft's Internet-of-things concept might be put to use. It can be used to plan bus transportation routes, for instance. An Internet-of-things network for buses might use a network of photo sensors, infrared sensors and touch-based kiosks at bus stops that could help bus riders know when the next bus was coming, while also indicating the number of passengers on a route. This network could use machine learning to better plan route servicing schedules for both weekdays and weekends. Vasters suggested that the network could be paid for by establishing electric bus charging stations at each bus stop, along with the sensor network.

Microsoft describes its Azure Intelligent Systems Service as providing connection technology, no matter what operating system is used. The service can capture and share data. It can manage devices and set up alarms. Lastly, the service can store data in the cloud and respond to variable demands.

Trying out the Azure Intelligent Systems Service limited public preview requires completing and submitting a survey, which can be accessed at this Microsoft Connect page. Applicants get reviewed each week, and notifications get sent five days after a review, according to Microsoft.

There's also a sign-up page to get a notification when Microsoft releases the full public preview of the Azure Intelligent Systems Service. The sign-up page can be accessed at this page (requires a Microsoft account).

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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