Microsoft Corp. announced new capabilities that further simplify the customer journey and deliver highly secured IoT solutions. These solutions help customers embrace IoT as a core strategy to drive better business outcomes, improve safety and address social issues by predicting and preventing equipment failures, optimizing smart buildings for space utilization and energy management, improving patient outcomes and worker safety, tracking assets across a supply chain, and more.

The proliferation of IoT devices is enabling companies to bring cloud intelligence to the edge, to create solutions that are adaptive and responsive to their environments. According to IDC,1 41.6 billion devices — including smartphones, smart home assistants and smart appliances — will be connected to the internet by 2025. Even sooner, by 2021, 94 percent of businesses surveyed will be using IoT, according to a recent Microsoft IoT Signals research report and, in nearly every case (97 percent), those companies are concerned about potential security risks.

“At Microsoft, we are committed to building a trusted, easy-to-use platform that allows our customers and partners to build seamless, smart, secure solutions regardless of where they are in the IoT journey,” said Sam George, CVP of Azure IoT at Microsoft. “That’s why we are investing $5B in IoT and intelligent edge — technology that is accelerating ubiquitous computing and bringing unparalleled opportunity across industries.”

Delivering New IoT Innovations from Cloud to Edge

The company’s core focus is addressing the challenge of securing connected devices at every layer while advancing IoT to create a seamless experience between the physical and digital worlds. In the past year, Microsoft launched more than 100 new services and features that make IoT solutions more secure and scalable, reduce complexity, and create opportunities in new market areas.

Making IoT Seamless

IoT Central is a fully managed IoT app platform that provides solution builders with built-in security, scale and extensibility needed to develop enterprise-grade IoT solutions. New features to IoT Central simplify challenges of building and deploying scalable and affordable enterprise applications. Some of the features include 11 new industry-focused application templates to accelerate solution builders across retail, healthcare, government and energy; API support for extending IoT Central or integrating it with other solutions, including API support for device modelling, provisioning, lifecycle management, operations and data querying; and IoT Edge support, including management for edge devices and IoT Edge module deployments, which enable customers to deploy cloud workloads, including AI, directly to connected devices.

Making IoT Smarter

Azure IoT Hub helps enterprise developers reduce costs and optimize operations through IoT cloud applications. New capabilities with IoT Hub message enrichment add the ability to stamp messages coming from devices with rich information before they are sent to downstream cloud services. IoT Hub integrates with Azure Event Grid to consume IoT Hub device messages from a broader variety of downstream services.

Azure Maps customers can add geospatial weather intelligence into their applications to enable scenarios like weather-based routing, weather-based targeted marketing and weather-based operations optimization, in partnership with AccuWeather. Azure Maps will now be available on Gov Cloud, simplifying the onboarding process for customers.

Azure Time Series Insights is announcing new preview capabilities, and some of the capabilities include multilayered storage, flexible cold storage and rich analytics.

Through Microsoft’s Express Logic acquisition, Azure RTOS continues to enable new intelligent capabilities, and unlocks access to new connected endpoints and grows the number of devices that can connect to Azure. Renesas is a microcontroller unit (MCU) manufacturer that shares the company’s vision of making IoT development as easy and seamless as possible, and they have announced that Azure RTOS will be available across Renesas’ products, including the Synergy and RA MCU families. It is already integrated into the Renesas Synergy Software Package and will be integrated out of box with the Renesas RA Flexible Software Package.

Making IoT More Secure

The company has added new features to Azure Security Center for IoT with the announcement of a Security Partner program and support for national clouds, and has announced the upcoming general availability of Azure Sphere in February 2020.

Enabling a future of intelligent and secure computing at the edge for organizations, enterprises and consumers will require advances in computer architecture all the way down to the chip level, with security built in from the beginning. Microsoft Azure Sphere is taking a holistic approach to securing the intelligent edge and IoT from the silicon to the cloud in a way that gives customers flexibility and control. For example, Qualcomm recently announced a partnership with Microsoft to develop mobile hardware for Microsoft’s Azure Sphere IoT operating system.

1 IDC, Worldwide Global DataSphere IoT Device and Data Forecast, 2019–2023, Doc # US45066919, May 2019