Harnessing cloud computing, artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT) to help usher in an era of ubiquitous computing has been a key theme of Microsoft's Build developer conference in Seattle this year (May 7-9). During the event, Microsoft unveiled a number of new tools that empower enterprises with the ability to control legions of connected devices and bring that vision closer to reality.
Microsoft's cloud-based IoT connectivity, provisioning and management service, Azure IoT Hub, is gaining a new automatic device management feature that eliminates many of the repetitive tasks associated with configuring and updating large IoT device fleets. The feature, currently in public beta, allows users to target a set of devices and a configuration they wish to apply to those devices. Then IoT Hub handles the rest.
"Automatic device configurations works by updating a set of device twins with desired properties and reporting a summary based on device twin reported properties," blogged Microsoft Program Manager Chrissie Chi. "It follows the principle of desired state configuration, allowing developers to define a desired state and letting the system handle the complexities of updating targeted device twins, managing conflicts, automatically updating devices that come into scope, and summarizing compliance."
Azure IoT Hub will also soon offer users more granular control over their IoT devices using the new module identity and module twin capabilities. A twin is a store of metadata, configuration information and other device-state information concerning an IoT device. Complementing the service's current ability to manage device-level identities and twins, module identities and twins allow users to target the individual components within devices.
Although the concept of module-based functionality isn't new—it's used in Azure IoT Edge as a measure of the smallest unit of computation on a device that can run a service like Azure Stream Analytics—it's a recent development for Azure IoT Hub. In this case, it allows organizations to isolate their development and configuration efforts down to a single component or subsystem within an IoT device.
Each IoT device can support up to 20 module identities. Like the new Azure IoT Hub automatic device management feature, module identities and twins are in beta.
Updated Azure IoT Remote Monitoring UI, SIM-Based Connectivity
Microsoft also took the wraps off a new update to Azure IoT Remote Monitoring, including a redesigned dashboard that automatically displays device details without having to manually customize the interface.
Device-tracking capabilities powered by Azure Maps help users pinpoint their connected gadgets while new tutorials guide users on getting the tool to work with Power BI, Azure Data Lake and other services. IoT systems operators now have access to advanced rules and data streaming capabilities based on the Azure Stream Analytics engine, along with a live maintenance mode the enables users to track devices while they are being serviced.
Wagering that some of its customers will be monitoring their devices over the networks of wireless carriers, Microsoft announced a new SIM management integration in partnership with Telefónica. It allows customers of the Spanish telecommunication company's IoT connectivity platform to view and collect real-time telemetry of cellular-connected devices using Azure IoT Remote Monitoring.