Microsoft launches 'IoT-as-a-service' offering for enterprises

Microsoft has launched a fully managed software-as-a-service offering for enterprises looking to deploy IoT solutions.
Written by Tas Bindi, Contributor

Microsoft has launched IoT Central, a fully managed "IoT-as-a-service" offering to assist enterprises with the deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) applications without the need for in-house expertise.

IoT Central aims to lower the barrier of entry to deploying IoT solutions in the enterprise, with a spokesperson from Microsoft telling ZDNet that the company "has a history of simplifying complicated technologies and bringing [them] to the masses", and that it is looking to do so again with IoT.

The Microsoft spokesperson added that the new offering will help IoT product manufacturers "that value time to market with technical stack prescribed and managed for them".

"It is designed to enable the rapid innovation, design, configuration, and integration of smart products with enterprise-grade systems and applications to reduce product manufacturers' go-to-market cycle and increase the speed at which they can innovate so they can stay ahead of their competition and deliver smart products that delight their customers," the spokesperson told ZDNet.

IoT Central is vertically and horizontally agnostic, though the spokesperson said its early adopters happen to operate in the manufacturing and engineering industries such as ThyssenKrupp Elevator, Sandvik Coromant, and Rolls-Royce.

IoT Central will be available alongside Azure Suite IoT, a platform-as-a-service offering that enables customisation and control when developing the back end for IoT applications, and Azure IoT Hub, which offers the messaging infrastructure for distributed devices to communicate to each other via Azure over widely used IoT protocols such as MQTT, HTTPS, and AMPQPS, as well as device authentication.

In addition to IoT Central, Microsoft is adding a handful of new technologies and programs to its IoT portfolio. For example, it is bringing Azure Stream Analytics to edge devices, allowing the devices to run real-time analytics locally without having to send the data to Azure first.

The company is also introducing Azure Time Series Insights, a new analytics, storage, and virtualisation service that is based on the technology Microsoft uses to log billions of events on Azure daily. The service, currently only available in preview, will allow enterprises to interactively visualise and analyse events for trends and anomalies in "near real time".

Microsoft said on its blog that it will be rolling out Microsoft IoT Central more publicly over the coming months.

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