The Internet of Things (IoT) is not only creating a lot of excitement, but also becoming a reality as more and more companies jump in with new devices, new services, and new ways of using IoT in their industry.
At Microsoft, we believe the Internet of Things starts with your things, and our Azure services and solutions help companies quickly realize great business outcomes using both current and new IoT devices.
Azure plays a very important role in our customer’s IoT solutions by providing:
- Globally available, infinitely scalable and cost effective services for IoT devices and secure connectivity using industry standard protocols and security approaches.
- A central place to collect telemetry from, send commands to, and manage geographically distributed devices.
- Advanced analytics that help customers unlock key insights from their IoT data, and even monitor for important conditions over telemetry streams from millions of concurrent devices in real time.
- A rich set of services required to realize the value in IoT, and open source client libraries that make it simple to interact with the Azure IoT Suite.
- The foundation for Azure IoT Suite pre-configured solutions, which are engineered to help customers quickly provision and realize business value from IoT.
Microsoft believes enterprise and commercial applications will realize the huge opportunity to leverage IoT in the coming months and years, where newly connected assets will help them transform their operations and create entirely new business models. Companies such as Rockwell Automation, ThyssenKrupp Elevator, and Fujitsu are already realizing business value from Azure IoT today.
Yet while the possibilities of IoT are limitless, so is the potential for customer frustration when getting started with a deployment. Based on our work with early customers, we learned that while “building block” cloud services are important for realizing business value from IoT, it is equally important to enable customers to deploy fully functional, pre-configured solutions in minutes—and without required cloud knowledge or software expertise. This insight was the reason we created the Azure IoT Suite.
Introducing Azure IoT Suite
Azure IoT Suite is an innovative offering designed to get customers started quickly and realize business value from IoT. Whether you’re exploring a prototype or investing in a full-scale deployment, with Azure IoT Suite you can be up and running with a fully functional pre-configured solution in a matter of minutes, not days or months. We even provide a set of ‘virtual devices’ that run in the cloud so you can see the entire solution working end to end without having to connect a physical device!
The Azure IoT Suite takes care of the hard work of deploying and orchestrating the various services to give you a complete end to end solution. This makes it easy to get started quickly, and also allows you to easily customize your solution as your needs evolve. With the Azure IoT Suite, you get the best of both worlds.
We also provide the Azure IoT device SDK, an open source set of client libraries that run on a variety of operating systems and devices. These libraries are a convenience, but are not required to interact with the Azure IoT Suite, and you can modify them to meet your needs. We provide step by step guidance and sample code that makes it easy to build prototypes with real devices that interact with the Azure IoT Suite.
Anatomy of an Azure IoT solution
The first pre-configured solution we’ve delivered in the Azure IoT Suite is Remote Monitoring, which makes it simple to monitor telemetry from devices, to look for specific conditions in the telemetry over time and to take action as a result.
When you deploy a Remote Monitoring pre-configured solution, it creates instances of the following Azure services:
- IoT Hub is a new service we’ve introduced to meet the needs of IoT. The IoT Hub is the centerpiece of an Azure IoT solution, serving as the cloud gateway for your “things” to connect to. It can scale to millions of connections per hub and can process massive volumes of data. It also provides the ability to communicate from the Cloud back to the devices it knows, thus enabling command and control capabilities. The IoT Hub speaks multiple protocols, including HTTP and AMPQ, as well as MQTT via our free open source MQTT protocol gateway. The IoT Hub also plays an important role in helping to secure your solution by providing per-device authentication support.
- Stream Analytics is a fully managed real-time analytics (complex event processing) service that enables you to detect anomalies and archive data from your IoT devices. It consumes data coming from devices into IoT Hub and enables you to write your stream processing logic with temporal semantics in a simple SQL like language. The results of this processing can be passed to other services such as Event Hubs, Power BI, or variety of storage services. It can do something as simple as forwarding telemetry data to a storage container, or as complex as tumbling window with aggregation. The Remote Monitoring solution creates multiple Stream Analytics jobs to drive various aspects of the solution.
- Blob Storage gives you a place to store data that your devices send to the cloud in the most cost-effective manner possible.
- DocumentDB the Azure IoT Suite uses DocumentDB to manage the metadata about devices you provision, such as configuration, state and security properties of your devices. The semi-structured model allows you to easily combine different device types with different data schemas.
- A Web App is deployed to host the web application used to inspect the device data dashboard, configure and send commands to devices, create and update business logic, and manage event-driven actions such as sending text messages when certain thresholds are met. Web Jobs are used to detect when Stream Analytics has matched a pattern in the device telemetry stream. On possible action is to trigger a Logic App workflow process.
- A Logic App is deployed to help integrate your IoT solution to your existing infrastructure and automate work flow process. Logic Apps allow developers to design workflows that start from a trigger and then execute a series of steps—rules and actions that use powerful Connectors to integrate with your business processes.
- Full source code is provided for the Web App, including deployment templates, enabling you to take it in whatever direction you want.
- A set of Virtual Devices is provisioned to complete the solution and demonstrate end to end functionality right from the start. You can modify these virtual devices to more closely match your specific scenario, or you can start connecting your own real-world devices right away.
Beyond Azure IoT Suite
The Azure IoT Suite gets you going quickly by building and managing the necessary services to implement fully functional solutions around common IoT scenarios. With a trusted cloud platform and technical expertise, our purpose-built solution frees you to focus on tailoring your IoT project to your business needs. One of the most beautiful aspects of Azure IoT Suite, though, is that as your business needs evolve, so does the solution. As your implementation becomes more advanced, you can easily modify, reconfigure, and build on it as needed. Azure IoT Suite is a starting point, but doesn’t presume a finish line: The sky is the limit for IoT.
Learn more about Microsoft’s approach to the Internet of Things and the Azure IoT Suite at InternetofYourThings.com.