Microsoft's Azure IoT Edge, now generally available, is key to Redmond's IoT strategy

Microsoft's service for bringing computing and artificial intelligence processing to IoT devices, Azure IoT Edge, is rolling out globally.

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Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft's Azure IoT Edge service is generally available (GA) globally, as of today, June 27.

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Azure IoT Edge is a service which allows users to deploy and run Azure services, AI and custom logic on IoT devices. Users can containerize Azure Cognitive Services, Machine Learning, Stream Analytics and Functions so they can run them on all kinds of devices, ranging from Raspberry Pis to industrial equipment. This is what Microsoft means when it talks about processing data "at the edge."

For the couple of years, Microsoft has been refocusing its mission around tools and services for the "intelligent cloud and intelligent edge." Microsoft defines the "edge" broadly as where users interact with the cloud. Edge devices can be anything from virtual-reality/mixed-reality headsets, to drones, to on-premises PCs and servers.

Simultaneous with the GA announcement, Microsoft is expanding its Azure Certified for IoT program, adding new categories like device management and security to its catalog. Pre-built Edge modules also are available via the Azure Marketplace.

Microsoft released a preview of Azure IoT Edge last year at its Connect(); conference in November. At its Build 2018 developers conference earlier this year, Microsoft announced it was open-sourcing the IoT Edge runtime, making it available on GitHub.

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Using Azure IoT Edge, users can scale deployments across millions of devices using Microsoft's Automatic Device Management service, officials said. Software development kits are available for C, C#, Node.js, Python and Java. VSTS support is built-in and development tooling is available for the service in Microsoft's lightweight VS Code tool.

"People are choosing Azure as a cloud because of it (Iot Edge)," said Arjmand Samuel, Principal Program Manager of Azure IoT.

There are three components required for Azure IoT Edge deployment: The Azure IoT Edge Runtime, Azure IoT Hub and edge modules. The Azure IoT Edge runtime is free, but users will need an Azure IoT Hub instance for edge device management and deployment if they are not using one for their IoT solution already, officials said. Go here for more Azure IoT Edge pricing information.