Nowadays, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a buzzword seemingly appearing everywhere. In a nutshell, IoT is the extension of Internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects. Your objects used to be a simple device serving only its primary purposes; now these objects can become “smart” by sensing, calculating and transferring data over the Internet. Depending on the data, they can even perform actions without any human interventions.

From your first search about IoT on the web, some popular IoT applications like Tesla’s cars, Amazon Echo, Google Home might make you things that IoT are all about smart consumer devices. IoT benefits in the industrial sector which are also striking. It’s transforming industries are manufacturing with automated machines, factories to the public sector with smart public transport or waste management.

For example, for a manufacturing factory, all factors including heat, light, humidity, air quality and so on, are crucial and need to be controlled at a certain point. Traditionally, a factory may have different devices and sensors to complete this task. However, these devices often depend on the local network setup. Connectivity and compatibility do not optimize. Moreover, data from these kinds of sensors might not process and transform into usable information.

IoT and Cloud Computing

So for businesses thinking about IoT, where does Cloud Service Provider like Microsoft Azure stand for them?

As IoT is about connectivity and data, one of the foremost things to consider is about computing power and data storage. Handling these requirements may cost a huge cost of infrastructure up front and also, building a complete solution from scratch is complicated and costly.

Then cloud platforms provider like Azure, Amazon, and Google come into the picture. These giants provide services that help businesses to build their IoT solutions better and faster. Connecting devices, controlling them and transforming their raw data to valuable information is complex. This task might require a huge investment in IT human resources and infrastructure, which is a barrier to entry for businesses who want to step up their technology adoption. Cloud pioneer like Microsoft helps to eliminate much of this barrier by giving businesses enterprise-ready solutions.

Azure IoT Overview

The Internet of Things (IoT)-Azure, is a collection of Microsoft-managed cloud services that connect, monitor and control billions of IoT assets.

Benefits

Microsoft Azure: Of-course, Azure can be considered an advantage since thanks to its innovation and service quality, it’s growing fast and catching up with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Cloud provides undeniable benefits in cloud computing infrastructure, resources, availability in regions across the globe and high-quality support services.

Usage of Azure is growing every day with its increasing support from IoT cloud services via satellite to its leading technology

Going into more details of IoT services, Azure offers multiple options for different purposes.

A wide range of services

The above picture gives an overview of what Azure can offer. It’s a full pack ranging from IoT-specific services. For example, Azure Central, Hub, Edge to other services of Data Analysis, Machine Learning and Integration.

Far from the era of isolated Microsoft technology, nowadays, Microsoft and especially Azure offers a substantial range of services supporting both Microsoft and third-party technologies. Services of Azure integrates with your existing enterprise solutions from its own Microsoft Dynamics to other systems such as Salesforce, SAP, Oracle.

Let’s go through an overview of core functionalities

Device management:

devices connects securely and remotely controlled to collect and analyze real-time device data, which as a result, provide insights to trigger automatic actions to speed up the business process.

Authentication and Authorization:

follow standard protocols and security requirements. Especially, Microsoft with its growing strength in enterprises applications, many businesses are already using Azure Active Directory, which makes the whole Authentication and Authorization process easy and smooth

Communication Channel:

support many protocols including HTTPS, MQTT, AMQP but do not support HTTP to ensure security.

SDK and programming languages:

support for multiple languages, for example, C#, Python, Java, Nodejs.

Device Communication:

Azure IoT Hub is a secure communication for data transfer. Each device has its security key to connect to the Hub and data is encrypted.

Security:

MS with its experiences – meet a huge range of security requirements across the globe.

Azure IoT Hub use Transport Layer Security (TLS), so communication is encrypted. Services and devices control access and credentials with a list of permissions. Developers can follow clear developer guidelines in the form of Security Development Lifecycle.

Integrated Application and Services:

Some popular and important services that can be used are

-Stream Analytics

-Machine Learning

-Power BI

-Time Series Insights

-Storage

-Cosmos DB

-Web Apps

Depending on your size and needs, all these functionalities are generally offered in two paths of IoT adoption: Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS)

Let’s dive into each path and their benefits
Recommend architecture of IoT applications with Azure PaaS (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/architecture/reference-architectures/iot/)
PaaS:

Azure Solution Accelerators helps your development process with preconfigured solutions or common IoT scenarios templates. However, it gives you full control and maximum flexibility to build up a custom solution. The pack of PaaS technology provides bi-directional communications among billion of devices with high availability and scalability on the cloud. Devices can connect easily to Azure IoT via open-source SDKs that also support multiple programming languages. These devices then can connect to Edge – a sophisticated edge computing strategy that analyzes data on “edge” device, balance workload, reduce latency and has offline support scenarios.

The raw data is then transferred to core Azure IoT Hub. It is a central message hub for secure communication and connection among devices as well as easily integrate other tools, for example, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Stream Analytics. From the Hub, telemetry data can be transformed into structured data, and there are options to process them in either a hot path near real-time or a cold path in a larger time interval in batch. Moreover, Azure boots a 99.9% Service Level Agreement for IoT Hub.

SaaS:

For some businesses, especially small and medium companies, who don’t emphasize customization, Azure IoT Central is mature out of the box solution. This service still uses Azure core PaaS. Microsoft simply provides a service with high accessibility for common and more predictable implementation needs. Although the ability of customization is restricted, the solution is quick to implement with no cloud experience required. Many smaller businesses now have a chance to adopt and leverage enterprise-grade solutions.

From ready-to-implement SaaS to fully customizable PaaS, Azure IoT provides you access to world-class technologies to advance your business. The product choice is decided by factors such as customization needs, cloud and IoT expertise, which Microsoft partners like Nub8 can work closely with you to fully assess, assist and create a cloud-based IoT solution.

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