New IoT services from Microsoft Azure promise to make managing connected devices way easier
As cloud computing matures, more and more technical concepts that once required a lot of specialized expertise are being simplified and offered to customers as easy-to-use templates. A great example is the complicated-but-exciting Internet of Things, and on Thursday Microsoft improved its IoT story for Azure customers with a new service that makes it easier to manage connected devices.
Microsoft’s IoT Central is a software-as-a-service product that promises to let Azure customers implement IoT concepts into their own business strategy without having to build the entire thing themselves within Azure. There are an awful lot of manufacturing companies and other non-tech-industry businesses that could do some cool things if they connected their products to the cloud, but the technical expertise required to get started and to maintain such a project is not necessarily available to your average manufacturer.
Microsoft already offers a platform-as-a-service IoT product for Azure customers who would prefer to do more of the work themselves, but this new service eliminates a lot of that heavy lifting. The company also announced Thursday that IoT customers can soon access two new data analytics tools, called Microsoft Azure Time Series Insights and Microsoft Azure Stream Analytics, both of which are available as a preview. Time Series Insights is basically a dashboard for your connected devices run through Azure, and Azure Stream Analytics will help companies get better data from connected devices out on the edge of a network where consistent connectivity is not always a given.
We’ve been talking about the internet of things for years, but there are more and more signs that the concept is starting to really gain traction. At an event in San Francisco yesterday, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy said “of all the buzzwords everybody has talked about, the one that has delivered fastest on its promises is IoT and connected devices.”
Both AWS and Google Cloud also offer several different IoT-related services for their customers. Just as artificial intelligence and machine learning are transforming what customers expect of cloud services, so too will the growth of connected devices, especially as some of the older companies that might benefit the most from this emerging technology ditch aging datacenters for cloud services.