In April, 2018, Microsoft announced its commitment to invest $5B in IoT (Internet of Things) and intelligent edge – technology that is accelerating ubiquitous computing and bringing unparalleled opportunity for transformation across industries. After a year of this announcement, Microsoft’s IoT platform is powering customer solutions with thousands of devices, at scale, and the number of devices supported has grown nearly 150 percent year-over-year. This year, many customers such a Starbucks, Chevron, Walmart, Walgreens, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota Material Handling Group and more are leveraging Azure as their cloud platform with IoT and AI services to accelerate their digital transformation. In the last year, Microsoft launched more than 100 new services and features on their IoT platform, designed to make IoT solutions more secure and scalable, reduce complexity, make our platform more open and create opportunities in new market areas. Their focus has been to address the industry challenge of securing connected devices at every layer, as well as advancing IoT to create a more seamless experience between the physical and digital worlds.
Growing the Microsoft IoT partner ecosystem
“Microsoft has one of the largest and fastest-growing partner ecosystems with more than ten thousand IoT partners from intelligent edge to intelligent cloud. This year, we announced more than 70 new partnerships in IoT, which help our customers build IoT solutions faster. At CES we announced our collaboration with Universal Electronics to launch a new digital assistant platform for the home built on Microsoft Azure using AI and IoT services. PTC announced ThingWorx Industrial Innovation Platform on Microsoft Azure to deliver a robust solution for Industrial IoT and digital product lifecycle management. At MWC, we announced new partnerships with SAP, and Cradlepoint. SAP Leonardo IoT will integrate with Azure IoT services providing our customers with the ability to contextualize and enrich their IoT data with SAP business data within SAP Leonardo IoT to drive new business outcomes. With Cradelpoint, we are helping customers bridge the IT/OT divide by providing secure private LTE networks connected directly to Azure IoT Central for OT customers to consume”, said Julia White – Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure, in a blog.
Bringing AI to the edge
The proliferation of IoT devices and resulting massive amount of data requiring real-time intelligence are fueling the need to move compute and analytics closer to where the data resides. This year, Microsoft open sourced the Azure IoT Edge runtime, providing developers have even greater flexibility and control of their edge solutions, enabling them to modify the runtime and debug issues for applications at the edge. Over the past year, five new Azure Cognitive Services were added that can run locally on an edge device, and we’ve made it easier to deploy your own Azure Machine Learning models on Azure IoT Edge. High-speed inferencing at the edge with Azure Data Box Edge was also enabled.