• 3 min read

Announcing new functionality to automatically provision devices to Azure IoT Hub

We’re announcing a great new service to Azure IoT Hub that allows customers to provision millions of devices in a secure and scalable manner. Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning enables zero-touch…

We’re announcing a great new service to Azure IoT Hub that allows customers to provision millions of devices in a secure and scalable manner. Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning enables zero-touch provisioning to the right IoT hub without requiring human intervention, and is currently being used by early adopters to validate various solution deployment scenarios.

Provisioning is an important part of the lifecycle management of an IoT device, which enables seamless integration with an Azure IoT solution. Technically speaking, provisioning pairs devices with an IoT hub based on any number of characteristics such as:

  • Location of the device (geo-sharding)
  • Customer who bought the device (multitenancy)
  • Application in which the device is to be used (solution isolation)

The Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning service is made even better thanks to some security standardization work called DICE and will support multiple types of hardware security modules such as TPM. In conjunction with this, we announced hardware partnerships with STMicro and Micron.

Without IoT Hub Device Provisioning, setting up and deploying a large number of devices to work with a cloud backend is hard and involves a lot of manual work. This is true today for Azure IoT Hub. While customers can create a lot of device identities within the hub at a time using bulk import, they still must individually place connection credentials on the devices themselves. It's hard, and today customers must build their own solution functionality to avoid the painful manual process. Our commitment to strong security best practices is partly to blame. IoT Hub requires each device to have a unique identity registered to the hub in order to enable per-device access revocation in case the device is compromised. This is a security best-practice, but like many security-related best practices, it tends to slow down deployment.
Not only that, but registering a device to Azure IoT Hub is really only half the battle. Once a device is registered, physically deployed in the field, and hooked up to the device management dashboard, now customers have to configure the device with the proper desired twin state and firmware version. This extra step is more time that the device is not a fully-functioning member of the IoT solution. We can do better using the IoT Hub Device Provisioning service.

Hardcoding endpoints with credentials in mass production is operationally expensive, and on top of that the device manufacturer might not know how the device will be used or who the eventual device owner will be, or they may not care. In addition, complete provisioning may involve information that was not available when the device was manufactured, such as who purchased the device. The Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning service contains all the information needed to provision a device.

Devices running Windows 10 IoT Core operating systems will enable an even easier way to connect to Device Provisioning via an in-box client that OEMs can include in the device unit. With Windows 10 IoT Core, customers can get a zero-touch provisioning experience, eliminating any configuration and provisioning hassles when onboarding new IoT devices that connect to Azure services. When combined with Windows 10 IoT Core support for Azure IoT Hub device management, the entire device life cycle management is simplified through features that enable device reprovisioning, ownership transfer, secure device management, and device end-of-life management. You can learn more about Windows IoT Core device provisioning and device management details by visiting Azure IoT Device Management.

Azure IoT is committed to offering our customers services which take the pain out of deploying and managing an IoT solution in a secure, reliable way. The Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning service is currently in private preview, and we'll make further announcements when it becomes available to the public. In the meantime, you can learn more about Azure IoT Hub's device management capabilities. We would love to get your feedback on secure device registration, so please continue to submit your suggestions through the Azure IoT User Voice forum or join the Azure IoT Advisors Yammer group.

Learn more about Microsoft IoT

Microsoft is simplifying IoT so every business can digitally transform through IoT solutions that are more accessible and easier to implement. Microsoft has the most comprehensive IoT portfolio with a wide range of IoT offerings to meet organizations where they are on their IoT journey, including everything businesses need to get started — ranging from operating systems for their devices, cloud services to control them, advanced analytics to gain insights, and business applications to enable intelligent action. To see how Microsoft IoT can transform your business, visit www.InternetofYourThings.com.​