When Microsoft held a press briefing in Australia recently to promote its IoT expertise, I and others present were fairly unimpressed with what Microsoft presented as an IoT customer implementation. However after being briefed on Microsoft’s IoT strategy Ovum has come away lauding it, especially the just launched Azure IoT Services.
Ovum analyst, Adrian Ho, wrote on an Ovum blog post – headlined ‘Microsoft shows thought leadership in IoT and cloud’ – on 25 March, after attending Microsoft’s annual analyst event in Singapore: “At the analyst event Microsoft demonstrated its thought leadership in [IoT], showcasing customers such as ThyssenKrupp that have leveraged IoT with predictive analytics to become more service-oriented business.
“Cities in Indonesia and Taiwan that have worked with Microsoft to build smart cities concepts spoke of benefits such as improvements in traffic; environmental sustainability; and better access to education, healthcare and public transportation. Some indicated that they are preparing to take this to the next level, which usually involves leveraging big data and predictive analytics.”
However he did not elaborate on these IoT solutions but went straight on to talking about the global cloud market. “No more than a handful of global or regional cloud service providers will remain in a few years. The battle for global and even regional supremacy will be fought between AWS, Google, SoftLayer, and Azure.”
He did single out for mention Azure’s IoT Suite, saying it “aims to help businesses connect with their products and machines. It will provide remote monitoring and pre-emptive maintenance, increasing the reliability of businesses’ products and delivering a better customer experience.”
Azure IoT Suite is a new addition to Microsoft’s IoT portfolio, it was announced only on 16 March with Takeshi Numoto – corporate vice president, cloud and enterprise marketing, saying in a blog:
“The Azure IoT Suite is an integrated offering that takes advantage of all the relevant Azure capabilities to connect devices and other assets, capture the diverse and voluminous data they generate, integrate and orchestrate the flow of that data, and manage, analyse and present it as usable information to the people who need it to make better decisions as well as intelligently automate operations.”
He added: “The offering, while customisable to fit the unique needs of organisations, will also provide finished applications to speed deployment of common scenarios we see across many industries, such as remote monitoring, asset management and predictive maintenance, while providing the ability to grow and scale solutions to millions of ‘things’.”
In other words, it fulfils only one of the many functions required in an end-to-end IoT ecosystem.
Other than that, Microsoft seems to be trying to target organisations that might find the oft-quoted idea of IoT as tens of billions of devices rather daunting. A link on its web site labelled “Read Microsoft’s vision for IoT” goes to a pdf document entitled “Creating the Internet of Your Things” in which Microsoft says “Rather than thinking about the Internet of Things as trillions of abstract devices and sensors, think about your things—your devices, sensors, IT infrastructure, cloud services, and software.”
When it comes to IoT offerings, again the focus is firmly on Azure IoT services. “Through its comprehensive technology offerings, such as Azure IoT services, Microsoft can help your business build on your existing technology and help unlock the potential of the Internet of Your Things—today.”
So I’m still unsure of the ‘big picture’ of how Microsoft sees its role in IoT. If anyone from Microsoft cares to reach out, I’d be pleased to hear more.