Prepare and certify your devices for IoT Plug and Play

Posted on August 26, 2020

Senior Program Manager, Azure IoT

Developing solutions with Azure IoT has never been faster, easier, or more secure. However, the tight coupling and integration between IoT device software and the software that matches it in the cloud can make it challenging to add different devices without spending hours writing device code.

IoT Plug and Play can solve this by enabling a seamless device-to-cloud integration experience. IoT Plug and Play from Microsoft is an open approach using Digital Twin Definition Language (based on JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD)) that allows IoT devices to declare their capabilities to cloud solutions. It enables hardware partners to build devices that can easily integrate with cloud solutions based on Azure IoT Central, as well as third-party solutions built on top of Azure IoT Hub or Azure Digital Twins.

As such, we are pleased to announce that the IoT Plug and Play device certification program is now available for companies to certify and drive awareness of their devices tailored for solutions, while also reducing time to market. In this blog post, we will explore the common ecosystem challenges and business motivations for using IoT Plug and Play, as well as why companies are choosing to pursue IoT Plug and Play certification and the requirements and process involved.

Addressing ecosystem challenges and business needs with IoT Plug and Play

IoT-Plug-and-Play_blog-image

Across our ecosystem of partners and customers, we continue to see opportunities to simplify IoT. Companies are using IoT devices to help them find valuable insights ranging from how customers are using their products, to how they can optimize operations and reduce energy consumption. Yet there are also challenges to enabling these scenarios across energy, agriculture, retail, healthcare, and other industries as integrating IoT devices into cloud solutions can often be a time-consuming process.

Windows solved a similar industry problem with Plug and Play, which at its core, was a capability model that devices could declare and present to Windows when they were connected. This capability model made it possible for thousands of different devices to connect to Windows and be used without any software having to be installed manually on Windows.

IoT Plug and Play—which was announced during Microsoft Build in May 2019—similarly addresses the ecosystem need to declare an open model language through an open approach. IoT Plug and Play is currently available in preview and offers numerous advantages for device builders, solution builders, and customers alike when it comes to reducing solution development time, cost, and complexity. By democratizing device integration, IoT Plug and Play helps remove entry barriers and opens new IoT device use cases. Since IoT Plug and Play-enabled solutions can understand the device model to start using devices without customization, the same interaction model can be used in any industry. For instance, cameras used on the factory floor for inspection can also be used in retail scenarios.

The IoT Plug and Play certification process validates that devices meet core capabilities and are enabled for secure device provisioning. The use of IoT Plug and Play certified devices is recommended in all IoT solutions, even those that do not currently leverage all the capabilities, as migration of IoT Plug and Play-enabled devices is a simple process.

IoT Plug and Play saves partners time and money

IoT Plug and Play-capable devices can become a major business differentiator for device and solution builders. Microsoft partner, myDevices, is already leveraging IoT Plug and Play in their commercial IoT solutions. According to Adrian Sanchez del Campo, Vice President of Engineering, “The main value in IoT Plug and Play is the ease of developing a device that will be used in a connected fashion. It's the easiest way to connect any hardware to the cloud, and it allows for any company to easily define telemetry and properties of a device without writing any embedded code.”

Sanchez del Campo also says it saves time and money. For devices that monitor or serve as a gateway at the edge, IoT Plug and Play enables myDevices to cut their development cycle by half or more, accelerating proofs of concept while also reducing development costs.

Olivier Pauzet, Vice President Product, IoT Solutions, from Sierra Wireless agrees that IoT Plug and Play is a definite time and money saver. “IoT Plug and Play comes on top of the existing partnership and joint value brought by Sierra Wireless’s Octave all-in-one-edge-to-cloud solution and Azure IoT services,” says Pauzet. “For customers using Digital Twins or IoT Central, being able to leverage IoT Plug and Play on both Octave and Azure will expand capabilities while making solution development even faster and easier.”

In addition to faster time to market, IoT Plug and Play also provides benefits for simplifying solution development. “As a full edge-to-cloud solution provider, Sierra Wireless sees benefits in making customer devices reported through Octave cloud connectors compatible with IoT Plug and Play applications,” says Pauzet. “Making it even simpler for customers and system integrators to build reliable, secure, and flexible end-to-end solutions is a key benefit for the whole ecosystem.”

Benefits of IoT Plug and Play device certification from Microsoft

Achieving IoT Plug and Play certification offers multiple advantages, but at its core, the benefits revolve around device builders having confidence that their tailored devices will be more discoverable, be more readily promoted to a broader audience, and have a reduced time to market.

Once a device is IoT Plug and Play-certified, it can easily be used in any IoT Plug and Play-enabled solution which increases the market opportunity for device builders. IoT Plug and Play-certified devices are also surfaced to a worldwide audience, helping solution builders discover devices with the capabilities they need at a previously unreachable scale.

It also provides device builders with the opportunity to easily partner with other providers who have adopted the same open approach to create true end-to-end solutions. Plus, devices can be deployed in various solutions without a direct relationship between the device builder and solution builder, increasing your addressable market.

Device builders gain additional audience exposure and potential co-sell opportunities by getting IoT Plug and Play-certified devices featured and promoted in the Certified for Azure IoT device catalog. The catalog provides expanded opportunities to reach solution developers and device buyers, who can search for compatible devices.

Finally, IoT Plug and Play-certified devices appeal to solution builders because they enable time to value by simplifying and reducing the solution development cycle. IoT Plug and Play also gives extensibility to IoT Plug and Play-enabled solutions by enabling the seamless addition of more devices.

Achieving IoT Plug and Play certification

To achieve IoT Plug and Play certification from Microsoft, devices must meet the following requirements:

  1. Defined device models and compliance with the Digital Twin Definition Language (DTDL) version 2.
  2. Support Device Provisioning Services (DPS).
  3. Physical device review.

The certification process is comprised of three phases: develop, certify, and publish. Develop phase activities include modeling and developing the code, storing the device models, and then iterating and testing the code. The outcome is a finalized device code that is ready to go through the IoT Plug and Play certification phase.

Certify phase activities require Microsoft Partner Network membership and onboarding to the Azure Certified Device submission portal. To kick off the certification process, developers must submit their IoT Plug and Play device model to the portal, along with relevant marketing details. Once complete, developers can connect and test in the certification portal, which takes the device through an automated set of validation tests.

Upon IoT Plug and Play certification, the device becomes eligible for publication to the Certified for Azure IoT device catalog. Publish phase activities include submitting the test results, device metadata, and Get Started Guide, along with the desired publish date, to Microsoft. Microsoft will work with the device builder to coordinate additional physical device review after the device is published.

Get started on IoT Plug and Play certification

Now is the right time to get ahead of the coming groundswell for IoT Plug and Play certification and begin maximizing your business potential. Begin the certification process by watching this video on how to certify IoT Plug and Play devices. For questions, reach out to us via email at IoT Certification.

For those considering device certification beyond IoT Plug and Play, stay tuned for future enhancements that will be announced soon. In the meantime, be sure to explore Azure IoT resources, including technical guidance, how-to guides, Microsoft Tech Community, and more.

Additional resources include: