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Microsoft Has Ambitious Plans To Broaden IoT Deployment

Microsoft has released the technical preview of IoT Central, the company's SaaS offering designed to let organizations roll out IoT-based solutions with minimal configuration or knowledge of the complexities of integrating operational systems with IT.

The company, which announced IoT Central back in April, said customers can use these preconfigured application templates to deploy IoT capabilities within hours and without the need for developers skilled in IoT. The new SaaS offering will compliment Microsoft's Azure IoT Suite, a PaaS-based offering that requires more customization and systems integration.

"For Microsoft IoT Central, the skill level [required] is really low," said Sam George, Microsoft's director of Azure IoT, during a press briefing earlier this week. Both IoT Central and the IoT Suite are built upon Azure IoT Hub as a gateway that the company said provides secure connectivity, provisioning and data gathering from IoT-enabled endpoints and devices.

They also both utilize other Azure services such as Machine Learning, Streaming Analytics, Time Series Insights and Logic Apps. The Azure IoT Suite is consumption-based, while IoT Central is based on a subscription model based on the amount of usage starting at 50 cents per user per month (or for a fixed rate of $500 per month). The company is also offering free trials.

"Up until now IoT has been out of reach for the average business and enterprise," George said. "We think it's time for IoT to be broadly available. There is nothing with rapid development like this from a major cloud vendor on the market."

IoT Central gives each device a unique security key and the service provides a set of device libraries, including Azure IoT device SDKs that support different platforms including Node.js, C/C# and Java. The service offers native support for IoT device connectivity protocols such as MQTT 3.1.1, HTTP 1.1 and AMQP 1.0. The company claims IoT Central can scale to millions of connected devices and millions of events per second gathered through the Azure IoT cloud gateway and stored in its time-series storage.

The number of IoT-based connected "things" is forecast at 8.4 billion for this year and on pace to reach 20 billion by 2020, according to Gartner. But ITIC Principal Analyst Laura DiDio warns that most customers are still in the early stages of true IoT deployments, though she said they are on pace to ramp up rapidly over the next two-to-three years. "Scalability will be imperative," DiDio said. "Corporations will require their devices, applications and networks to grow commensurately with their business needs."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 12/06/2017 at 11:54 AM


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