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Azure Sphere GA Set for February 2020, Azure IoT Central Gets New Features

Microsoft on Monday set a February 2020 general availability date for Azure Sphere and revealed a handful of new features for Azure IoT Central among a raft of Internet of Things (IoT) announcements timed in conjunction with the IoT Solutions World Congress taking place this week in Barcelona.

Azure Sphere GA Date
Azure Sphere is Microsoft's ambitious initiative, first announced in April 2018, to put itself at the center of IoT management and security. It consists of a combination of a reference architecture for microcontroller units (MCUs), a Linux-based operating system for the devices themselves, and a cloud-based Azure Sphere Security Service to manage and secure the devices. Earlier this year, Microsoft added a mechanism called "Guardian Modules" to the roadmap, which would serve as a bridge for older IoT devices to be managed under Azure Sphere.

Sam George, corporate vice president of Azure IoT, in a blog post highlighted momentum with the preview versions of Azure Sphere. "Since we first introduced Azure Sphere, we've made tremendous progress delivering on our ambitious product vision, investing in partnerships and capabilities that help us serve customers wherever they are in their IoT journey. This includes our partnerships with silicon leaders to enable heterogeneity at the edge; our longstanding partnership with MediaTek, and our recent partnership announcements with NXP and Qualcomm, which will introduce the first cellular-enabled Azure Sphere-certified chip," George wrote.

Azure IoT Central Features
George also unveiled a number of new features for Azure IoT Central, Microsoft's IoT app platform, which is an ease-of-use-focused solution for developing, managing, provisioning, customizing and maintaining IoT solutions.

New features include vertical templates in 11 industries, including retail, health care, government and energy; API support for connecting IoT Central with other solutions or for customizing it; support for IoT Edge, IoT plug-and-play and multitenancy; the ability to save and load applications; new data export options; custom user roles; and a new pricing model for early next year.

Other IoT Enhancements
Microsoft disclosed several other coming enhancements on Monday.

Several new features will reach general availability by the end of November for Azure IoT Hub, the cloud gateway used by IoT Central. The runtime of the Azure Event Grid will be extended to devices with Azure Event Grid on IoT Edge, which allows organizations to publish their own events or connect other modules with built-in event capabilities. Organizations will be able to put their own information into messages with IoT Hub message enrichment. Additionally, IoT Hub will integrate with the regular Azure Event Grid for sending device telemetry events to Azure services.

Azure Maps is already a feature with a lot of usage scenarios for IoT applications that include devices in the field. Now Microsoft is partnering with AccuWeather to add geospatial weather intelligence data into those applications. Common scenarios include "routing, targeted marketing and operations optimization," George said.

Finally, Microsoft is working on a handful of new capabilities for Azure Time Series Insights, which is Microsoft's IoT analytics solution. Those include multilayered storage, flexible cold storage, richer analytic capabilities, scale and performance improvements, and a Power BI connector.

Posted by Scott Bekker on 10/28/2019 at 12:37 PM


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