10 min read
Businesses around the world have been harnessing the Internet of Things (IoT) to reduce operational expenses, power breakthrough customer experiences, and create new revenue streams. Now, faced with the unprecedented challenges of our times, businesses are also harnessing IoT to create safer workplaces as employees return to work, reduce expenses to weather downturns, reduce environmental impact and help with sustainability goals, and remain competitive as IoT becomes a standard way of operating a business.
Microsoft is a recognized leader in IoT. Our mission is to simplify IoT and make it available to every organization on the planet, regardless of size or technical capability. And we haven’t stopped there; we simplified IoT with no code and low code offerings like Azure IoT Central that customers and partners can use without any cloud solutions development skills.
At Microsoft, we deeply understand the value of embracing tech intensity, of using data and AI to address challenges and identify opportunities. Azure IoT plays a leading role in this transformation with an edge and cloud methodology that instills confidence in organizations’ ability to act on the insights presented to them.
Azure IoT is uniquely positioned as a fully open, flexible platform that spans industry applications and simplifies the development process. This week at Microsoft Ignite, we shared the latest from Azure IoT and how partners and customers are using these innovations in amazing ways.
RXR Realty builds on Azure IoT to increase safety
When faced with the question of what is needed to enable a safer, sustainable return to the workplace, New York-based RXR Realty looked at how they could quickly pivot the work they were doing around smart buildings to support a holistic end-to-end approach that spans an employee’s entire day—from waking up, to entering the office building and having a productive day, to going home. The result was the RxWell program, a connected environment solution built on Azure IoT, which was developed and deployed in under six months through partnership with Microsoft, McKinsey, and Infosys.
RXR Realty knew that for every one office worker that returns to the office, it drives five service jobs, such as food service and childcare providers, therefore helping stimulate the local economy. Azure technology allowed them to quickly build an edge-to-cloud solution that merges physical and digital assets, giving office workers the tools and peace of mind to navigate the workplace in safety. This technology helps manage employee rotations and enable touch-free building and elevator access.
Additionally, real-time analytics deliver insights into occupant density, air quality, humidity, and population health, enabling businesses and their workers to make informed decisions and navigate office buildings safely and confidently. Read the RXR Realty customer story and watch the Microsoft Mechanics—How We Built It video featuring RXR Realty to get a demo-rich, technical breakdown of the RxWell solution.
GE Aviation digitally models and observes aircrafts with Azure Digital Twins
As connected solutions continue to grow, companies are looking for ways to create richer models of entire connected business environments. Companies are currently able to use Azure Digital Twins to design and build sophisticated digital replicas of assets, environments, and business systems that can be used across connected environments including, smart buildings, utilities, factories, farms, railways, and entire cities.
Many of our customers and partners are already benefiting from Azure Digital Twins. Using Azure Digital Twins, GE Aviation can model digital representations of individual aircrafts and their components to track asset performance, monitor component usage, and view maintenance history. In a world where it’s not always possible to send someone on site, these insights allow GE Aviation to observe the plane inside and out and mitigate issues before they occur—helping get essential supplies and goods to our doors.
“Azure Digital Twins allows us to fuse vital data—whether it’s from our Asset Records system, our EMS system or another—into the asset-centric point of view needed for the new Asset Lifecycle product we’re creating to show an asset’s state at any point in time. Azure Digital Twins also provides an out-of-the-box ability to track changes for properties or relationships between components over time for advanced analytics. This proves valuable for supporting airlines in making critical maintenance decisions, such as whether or not to keep parts on the wing longer, while also helping reduce their maintenance burden, costs, and the amount of downtime or out-of-service-time for an aircraft.”—Nate Hicks, Sr. Product Manager at GE Aviation’s Digital Group
Azure Digital Twins, currently in preview with general availability coming soon, will bring many new capabilities plus the scale, reliability, and broader market availability necessary for customers to build production-ready solutions. Partners can use its flexible integration capabilities to bring together any service and data points from edge devices, as well as any business system—even from outside Azure. Its use of an open modeling language, Digital Twins Definition Language (DTDL), allows companies to create custom models of any connected environment while maintaining compatibility with other parts of the Azure ecosystem.
ENGIE helps decarbonize energy production with Azure Time Series Insights
The emergence of connected environments also means the continued generation of large volumes of data as assets are connected and brought together. To truly see the benefits, companies require comprehensive analytics across large-scale IoT data sets. ENGIE Digital, a European provider of renewable energy, integrated Azure Time Series insights with Azure IoT Edge to deliver a robust data and AI-driven analytics platform across hundreds of renewable energy sites. This enabled them to support historical data analysis and keep pace with large volumes of data while generating contextualized insights, Azure Time Series Insights ensures they always have the latest data at hand.
Azure Time Series Insights Gen2 is a powerful, fully managed IoT analytics platform created to help contextualize and turn IoT data into actionable insights. Features made generally available in July included multi-layered, scalable storage options for both highly interactive analytics over a short time span and advanced analysis of decades worth of historical data. Rich semantic modeling also enables the analysis of billions of events across millions of IoT sensors to identify trends and anomalies, conduct root-cause analysis, and deliver insights for operational excellence.
AT&T builds cellular-enabled guardian module with Azure Sphere
Security continues to be a key investment area for Microsoft as it is imperative that every IoT device is secured by design. Accordingly, we are very pleased to share the news from Microsoft Ignite that AT&T and Microsoft are teaming up to enable enterprises to seamlessly connect machines and equipment to the cloud with highly secure global network connectivity. The new, cellular-enabled guardian module shows how Microsoft is empowering customers to achieve more, and in turn, to deliver innovation and opportunity to their customers. Check out the full announcement blog post to see opportunities created.
In addition to all the great customer and partner announcements, we announced the following product innovations:
Azure IoT Hub on-premises in Azure Stack Hub
While customers and partners love the power and productivity Azure IoT Hub brings in the cloud, they also asked for support on-premises. We are bringing Azure IoT Hub on-premises in Azure Stack Hub. This is another industry first from Azure IoT and enables customers to take advantage of Azure IoT Hub in occasionally connected or fully disconnected environments, such as manufacturing shop floors, remote industrial sites, and more. We are putting the finishing touches on preview, which will be available in October.
Azure Defender for IoT with CyberX capabilities
IoT security is fundamental and needs to be addressed throughout the ecosystem as organizations’ assets, data, brand, and overall reputation are on the line. Building on this security momentum and research that shows 97 percent of companies highlight security as a concern when adopting IoT, we are expanding upon our existing industry-leading IoT security offerings.
First, we rebranded Azure Security Center for IoT to Azure Defender for IoT. Already generally available, this offering integrates seamlessly with Azure IoT Hub to proactively monitor IoT and IoT Edge devices and cloud solutions and provide security recommendations and alerts.
Next, we are bringing the availability of Azure Defender for IoT CyberX capabilities, which incorporates agentless technology from our recent acquisition of CyberX and offers new capabilities for securing unmanaged brownfield devices used in operational technology environments. The combination of on-device, agent-based monitoring with the new agentless CyberX capabilities makes Azure Defender for IoT one of the most fully featured and sophisticated security offerings in the industry.
And finally, we continue to partner with industry to refine the IoT Security Maturity Model (SMM) in the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC). This establishes a consistent approach for matching security investments with need, addressing areas including governance, processes, technologies, and operations—for which Microsoft co-authored and edited the Practitioner’s Guide.
New Azure IoT Central capabilities
Azure IoT Central is our IoT application platform that builds on top of the Azure IoT platform. It’s an easy, cost-effective way to build, manage, and operate IoT solutions. Go from idea, to proof of concept (PoC), to enterprise scale in weeks with one of the most advanced IoT application platform in the industry.
At Microsoft Ignite, we announced a set of important new Azure IoT Central capabilities including:
- New Azure IoT Central application template for video analytics—Use this new application template to quickly and easily develop and scale AI-powered video analytics solutions through Intel AI Modules. Leverage existing IP cameras with Azure Media Services and Azure Storage to store and stream relevant portions of the live video feed and live video analytics.
- Continuous data export—Send filtered and enriched data from your devices in near real-time to cloud destinations unlocking business insights with IoT data. The new data export capability allows you to re-use destinations, send only specific streams of data, and enrich your data with data from your Azure IoT Central application.
- Use Jobs to interact with devices—The Jobs experience in Azure IoT Central has been redesigned with a new wizard that allows you to create, run, and save jobs. The UI includes rich charts and interactions for monitoring the progress and completion of jobs across a fleet of devices. Next month, we’ll be releasing additional capabilities that include job schedules and batches.
- Command-line interface (CLI) improvements—The Azure IoT Central CLI extension has a new set of commands including az iot central user, az iot central api-token, and az iot central device compute-device-key for generating device SAS keys used during provisioning.
- Raw data views—Use the new raw data view to inspect telemetry in real-time as it flows from your devices.
- File upload—Azure IoT Central now supports uploading media and other files directly from connected devices.
New Azure IoT Edge capabilities
Azure IoT Edge is a leading edge compute offering in the industry, offering unparalleled production readiness and security. At Microsoft Ignite, we announced a set of breakthrough new capabilities including:
- Nested Azure IoT Edge preview support enables customers to deploy Azure IoT Edge nodes across networks organized in hierarchical layers, such as ISA-95 network topologies, adhering to strict networking requirements to ensure a secure environment from real-time production all the way to the cloud.
- Azure IoT Edge security with enclaves are now generally available, enabling deployment and execution of Trusted Applications in devices suitably equipped with trusted execution environments.
- Edge Compute Node protection profile for IoT device security certification combines industry standard definitions and practices to enable how IoT stakeholders create and consume device security claims.
- Industry-leading monitoring with the latest release of Azure IoT Edge enables rich monitoring of Azure IoT Edge fleets and applications at scale by emitting a rich set of metrics from IoT Edge system modules. Our new monitoring support easily integrates with existing monitoring solutions and even enables local monitoring for offline use cases.
Unified Azure Certified Device program and final certification for IoT Plug and Play
A unified Azure Certified Device program expands on previous Microsoft certification offerings that validate IoT devices meet specific capability needs and work great on Azure. This program helps device builders increase visibility of their products while making it easy for solution builders and customers to find the right device for their IoT solutions via the Azure Certified Device Catalog.
Certifications currently available include: Azure Certified Device, IoT Plug and Play, and Edge Managed. The Final IoT Plug and Play certification, announced in August, helps reduce time to market for device builders. Additionally, Azure IoT platform services and SDKs for IoT Plug and Play will be generally available by the end of this month.
View our developer documentation for more information, and join the companies already beginning to prepare and certify their devices for IoT Plug and Play. Also, read the full technical blog to learn more about these certifications and others in development.
Accelerate technical skills with Azure IoT Developer Specialty certification and new learning content
Part of empowering tech intensity in our customers and partners is providing the tools and resources for individuals to successfully use advanced digital technologies, such as machine learning and IoT, so they can see projects through to realization. The Azure IoT Developer Specialty certification is a great first step to support developers in gaining technical knowledge, advancing their career, and becoming recognized as experts on their journey to building innovative new solutions.
Developers looking to start their IoT learning and certification journey can find free online courses at Microsoft Learn. They can also prepare for certification with the new Internet of Things Event Learning Path on GitHub. This series of five video-based modules explores topics including IoT device connectivity, IoT data communication strategies, use of AI at the edge, data processing considerations for IoT data, and IoT solutioning based on the Azure IoT reference architecture.
We encourage you to explore these new releases and innovations in depth, and learn more about how Azure IoT can help with business resilience and staying agile for the future of connected ecosystems. We also recommend checking out these
Microsoft Ignite sessions:
- Azure IoT services, roadmap, and vision: from connected assets to connected environments.
- Azure IoT: Building end-to-end IoT solutions secured from edge to cloud.
Additional IoT learning resources:
- IoT at Microsoft Ignite: Learn Collection.
- Microsoft IoT Deep Dives.
- Azure IoT Developer Specialty Certification.
- How to prepare for Azure IoT Developer Specialty certification blog.
- IoT Learning Path blog post.
- Round-up of IoT developer resources and insights.
- Security Maturity Model (SMM) training.
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