Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that they were taking their Azure IoT hub out of public preview and into general availability. It’s no surprise that Microsoft is taking the leap into the IoT world – it’s rapidly growing. According to analyst firm Gartner, 6.4 billion connected “things” will be in use in 2016; that’s a 30 percent increase over last year.
Microsoft’s Azure IoT Hub enables communication from device to cloud, or cloud to device, over open protocols such as MQTT, HTTPS and AMQPS – which are commonly used in IoT. With this IoT Hub, Microsoft aims to make it easy to integrate with other Azure services like Machine Learning and Stream Analytics. Liam Tung at ZDNet says that this move is a part of Microsoft’s strategy to become “the go-to cloud when customers – whether startups or enterprise – deploy new business models and process based on large networks of low-powered connected devices like those from Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Texas Instruments.”
Lately, Microsoft has been flexing their IoT muscle in some pretty cool ways. In December we told you about Microsoft’s Cities Unlocked project – which uses the IoT to give people who are deaf or blind the ability to independently navigate urban landscapes – and just this week, the company launched a weather balloon named Pegasus II to an elevation of 100,000 feet in an experiment that aims to test the capabilities of Microsoft’s Azure IoT.
Microsoft has also announced the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF). According to Microsoft, the OCF aims to bring together industry leaders to create a “set of open specifications and protocols to enable devices from a variety of manufactures to securely and seamlessly interact with one another regardless of the manufacturer, operating system, chipset or transport.” By creating open standards, the foundation hopes to speed up adoption and innovation of IoT devices, which may have been slowed due to competition and inconsistent specifications. Microsoft designed Windows 10 and their Azure IoT platform with OCF specifications in mind.
There are so many exciting applications of IoT technology; Microsoft’s Cities Unlocked and Pegasus II projects prove it. It’s thanks to this enormous potential that the industry is expected to experience such rapid growth, and cloud options like Azure will only help to spur innovation in the field. We’re proud to be a trusted partner of a company that’s continually looking for ways to make technology work better, and look forward to working with Microsoft as they develop new products and improve existing ones. Of course, as the cloud industry grows and changes (as it tends to do quickly) we’ll be right here to break it all down for you.