As the Internet of Things continues to accelerate and businesses realize the immense benefits, the next breakthrough capability we’re providing is to enable IoT devices themselves to evolve. In early IoT solutions, most IoT devices simply sent telemetry to and received commands from the cloud, with the logic that found insights in device telemetry residing in the cloud.
As billions of devices get connected and send trillions of messages, it makes sense to move some of the cloud intelligence out to IoT devices themselves. When IoT devices start running cloud intelligence locally, we refer to them as “IoT edge” devices. Enabling intelligence on IoT edge devices means enabling analytics and insights to happen closer to the source of the data, saving customers money and simplifying their solutions.
IoT edge devices range from small footprint devices (e.g. smaller than a Raspberry Pi) and gateways to industrial machines and autonomous vehicles. Instead of simply generating data and sending it to the cloud, these IoT edge devices can process and analyze data to gain insights, and then quickly act on them locally and autonomously. For example, a factory needs immediate response times to stop operations when an equipment failure is predicted by local intelligence, or to protect worker safety in the event of an accident.
While the benefits of edge intelligence are immense, the challenge it poses is how to develop, deploy and manage this cloud intelligence for IoT devices in a secure and scalable way. Microsoft has a long history of taking complicated technologies, simplifying them and making them broadly available so everyone can benefit.
Today, we are announcing Microsoft Azure IoT Edge, a revolutionary set of capabilities that will extend our existing IoT gateway offering to continue our mission to simply IoT further. Azure IoT Edge is a capability spanning cloud and IoT edge devices that make it easy to securely distribute cloud intelligence locally. Azure IoT Edge is cross platform, running on both Windows and Linux, and on devices even smaller than a Raspberry Pi with as little as 128MB of memory.
Enable cloud services at the edge
Azure IoT Edge enables an ecosystem of Microsoft and third-party services at the edge to help you light up new IoT scenarios. Azure IoT Edge enables seamless deployment of cloud services such as:
- Azure Machine Learning
- Azure Stream Analytics
- Azure Functions
- Artificial Intelligence, including Cognitive Services
- Azure IoT Hub communication and device management features
Last month at Hannover Messe, we announced Azure Stream Analytics on edge devices, a new feature of Azure Stream Analytics. The service extends Microsoft’s unique streaming technology from the cloud down to devices that are running on Azure IoT Edge. Be sure to learn more about Azure Stream Analytics on edge devices.
Manage edge devices and services from the cloud
You can manage devices and services running at the edge in the same cloud portal, making it easy to monitor and manage your IoT solution. Azure IoT Edge uses Azure IoT Hub to facilitate secure and scalable distribution of Microsoft and third-party services to edge devices. Once these services are running on Azure IoT Edge-enabled devices, you can manage both the devices and the services in the cloud using Azure IoT Hub Device Management capabilities. This greatly simplifies the complexity of deployment, configuration, updates, and health monitoring of IoT solutions involving a varied set of devices.
Simplify IoT solution development
Azure IoT Edge also helps address the challenge faced by organizations to attract needed developer talent for building and maintaining end-to-end solutions. In a typical IoT implementation, organizations need hardware developers for programming IoT devices, software developers proficient in cloud technologies and developers with specialized programming language skills, such as in machine learning, stream analytics, and artificial intelligence.
With Azure IoT Edge, developers can use any programming languages including C, Node.js, Java, Microsoft .NET, and Python to build and configure code. By using the same programming languages you use in the cloud to build and test your IoT applications and then deploy them to your edge devices, Azure IoT Edge greatly reduces development work required to build and maintain an IoT solution and its backend infrastructure.
Reduce IoT solution costs
Azure IoT Edge enables IoT devices to run cloud services, process data in near real-time, and communicate with sensors and other devices connected to them, even with intermittent cloud connectivity. By enabling processing, analytics and action to happen closer to the source of the data, Azure IoT Edge empowers you to make faster and smarter decisions, while reducing bandwidth costs by sending only critical information to the cloud for further analysis. You and your organization can decide what IoT data to capture and send to the cloud by programming your edge device to process data locally. Then, send only the data you need to store and analyze in the cloud. By reducing the amount of data you transmit from device to cloud, you’ll reduce bandwidth costs and costs associated with storing and analyzing data in other business applications—but still benefit from enhanced insights.
Operate with offline and intermittent connectivity
With Azure IoT Edge, edge devices can operate reliably and securely even when there is intermittent cloud connectivity. Once reconnected, edge devices automatically synchronize their latest state and continue to function seamlessly. Operations can continue even with unstable networks, for example a ship at sea where high bandwidth networks are only available once in port. While the ship is at sea, it may rely on a metered network which may be expensive or have no access to the Internet.
Sign up for the latest information on Azure IoT Edge
Azure IoT Edge is the next step in our vision of making edge devices smarter and more configurable. Microsoft launched the Azure IoT Gateway SDK over a year ago as a framework to create extensible gateway solutions. The SDK provided code that reduced the work required for developers to build and deploy gateway logic. Azure IoT Edge extends beyond gateways to include all edge devices and focuses on democratizing edge intelligence. Azure IoT Edge will empower organizations to make progress towards greater edge intelligence to enhance their IoT solutions and fuel their digital transformation.
Learn more and sign up for the latest information on Azure IoT Edge.
Check out other announcements
As part of our on-going effort to simplify IoT development, we also announced additional Azure IoT related news at Microsoft Build for Azure IoT Hub updates, new kit certifications for Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT and new developer training courses. Check out latest Windows IoT news at Build here.
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. Microsoft is a founding member of the OpenFog Consortium, which focuses on advancing interoperability between cloud and edge. Microsoft is also a member of the Industrial Internet Consortium and OPC Foundation.
Read more about how Microsoft is simplifying IoT to make it even more accessible to organizations interested in digital transformation.