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Enable industrial device connectivity with thousands of partner-provided Azure IoT Plug and Play device profiles

Posted on September 21, 2021

IoT Business Acceleration Leader, Microsoft Azure

Simplifying industrial IoT device connectivity has been top of mind for many of us at Microsoft. Recently we dramatically expanded our ability to support faster operational technology (OT) to cloud connectivity for up to 80 percent of all industrial equipment as part of our collaboration with key players in our partner ecosystem. This is big news—and something that everyone working on or selling IoT solutions should know as many companies struggle with connectivity implementation. Simply said, connecting existing industrial assets to the cloud just got a lot easier and you’ll save thousands of dollars in labor costs while dramatically accelerating your IoT project.

As a result of our partner collaborations and the latest Azure IoT technologies, we are able to offer rapid connectivity to tens of thousands of popular industrial IoT device profiles for use in industrial spaces. Providing connectivity for all types of sensors, devices, and machines—and expanding the opportunity for IoT implementation for everyone—as industrial grade machinery is present across many sectors and industries in the modern world.

The benefit of connected assets

As anyone who has delved into IoT knows, connecting devices and sensors are just the start of delivering on the value of IoT. It’s a time-consuming and often complex first step, but one that carries an enormous payoff. While digital transformation benefits for connected assets can be found in all sectors, industrial manufacturing, in particular, leads the way. For these companies, IoT solutions can reduce downtimes by 20–25 percent due to predictive maintenance and location monitoring—saving millions each year. And that’s before the operational efficiencies, business insights, and possibly new revenue streams from IoT big data and AI are applied.

Connectivity made easy with IoT Plug and Play

With the introduction of IoT Plug and Play, we’ve made the job of connecting devices to Azure IoT a lot easier, as it simplifies and democratizes IoT for our customers, partners, and device builders. This technology helps IT practitioners integrate smart devices into their solutions with minimal configuration. At its core, IoT Plug and Play uses a device model to describe the device’s capabilities using the Digital Twin Definition Language (DTDL). Once turned on, IoT Plug and Play-enabled devices quickly establish themselves as part of an IoT application in the cloud. Customers and partners can further accelerate projects with customizable dashboards and application templates in IoT Central.

Thousands of devices are IoT Plug and Play-enabled

For new IoT solutions and applications, our Azure Device Catalog currently offers hundreds of IoT Plug and Play-enabled certified devices. These devices can be easily connected to Azure IoT services such as Azure IoT, Azure IoT Hub, and Azure IoT Central.
The vast majority of the world’s industrial IoT projects are targeted towards existing assets and environments with a myriad IoT-capable sensors and devices that are already in use. For this reason, we are further expanding the use of IoT Plug and Play technology to these scenarios. And we are happy to share more about those partners who are helping us bring IoT Plug and Play technology to tens of thousands more industrial devices.

The two key partners we would like to highlight are:

CloudRail and their fully managed solution acquire data from industrial environments, pre-process it locally, and sends it to Azure IoT. CloudRail uses industry standards like OPC-UA to connect modern devices, while old machines are retrofitted with secondary sensors. Their database of over 12,000 sensor Azure Plug and Play-enabled definitions in combination with automated data normalization and device provisioning reduces the setup time for connecting a machine to the cloud from weeks to just hours. Using “CloudRail DMC”, their cloud-based device management solution, customers can securely run and manage a single connected machine or thousands.

Omnio offers a solution called Omnio Edge, which provides software-configured connectors for industrial assets Omnio Edge follows the IoT Plug and Play patterns to enable more than 60,000 device configurations. Their solution delivers a seamless experience for industrial legacy assets to be connected to cloud-based applications providing semantically coherent data labels, same units, same scaling, and synchronized timestamps.

With the combined power of Azure IoT Plug and Play and our partners, Azure IoT offerings at the edge are now more comprehensive and enabling—providing the ability to connect almost any type of industrial equipment while leveraging the full capabilities of the device spectrum. With these collaborations, Microsoft is enabling our customers and partners to deploy intelligent cloud workloads at the edge in a way that optimally balances power and simplicity.