Microsoft's Azure IoT hub is now ready for business

Microsoft has taken its messaging platform for connected things out of public preview.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Microsoft is taking on the Internet of Things with new Azure offering.

Image: ML

Azure IoT Hub, Microsoft's communications platform for billions of cloud connected devices, has moved to general availability.

The Azure messaging hub for Internet of Things (IoT) is a key component of Microsoft's plan to be the go-to cloud when customers -- whether startups or enterprise -- deploy new business models and processes based on large networks of low-powered connected devices like those from Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Texas Instruments.

Analyst firm Gartner estimates that there will be 20.8 billion IoT devices deployed by 2020, up from a projected 6.4 billion deployed worldwide in 2016. Most of these will be for connected consumer 'things' like cars, but the analyst firm expects enterprise to be the biggest spender as they connect light bulbs, HVAC, building management systems, and devices to support transport logistics.

IoT Hub 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.

The service has been in a public preview since October, a month after Microsoft launched its Azure IoT Suite, which integrates messaging with Microsoft's other Azure services, such as machine learning and analytics, as well as storage so that customers analyze and act on data in real-time.

Microsoft wants businesses to use the service to collect data from devices; analyse data streams; store, query, and visualise large data-sets; and finally integrate that data with back-office systems.

As it notes separately, the preconfigured solutions in its IoT Suite currently include remote monitoring and predictive maintenance. This covers thing like data ingestion, device identity, command and control, rules and predictive analytics.

Currently, the service is free for customers looking to experiment and supports up to 8,000 messages per day. Its 'S1' edition for small deployments currently costs $25 per month but will rise to $50 per month on April 1. S1 supports up to 400,000 4KB messages per day. It's large data edition S2 currently costs $250 per month but rises to $500 per month April 1 and supports up 6 million 4KB messages a day.

The company also boasted that it has added 30 new partners to its Azure Certified for IoT program, for hardware running on real-time OS, ARM's mbed, Linux, and Windows. Some of the new partners include Advantech, Dell, HPE, and Libelium, adding to the existing roster of familiar names in the space like Intel, Samsung, and Freescale.

The general availability follows Amazon's move on the IoT which launched in beta last October. AWS is charging $5 per million messages in its North Virginia, Oregon, and Ireland regions, and $8 per million in Tokyo. The company considers each message to be a 512-byte block of data processed. It offers the additional lure of not charging for messages delivered to services like Amazon S3, and DynamoDB.

Read more about Microsoft Azure and Internet of Things

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