Microsoft Launches Azure Cloud Service for Internet of Things

Microsoft's new Azure service aims at the Internet of Things with no regard for underlying device operating systems.

Microsoft announced a limited public preview of the Microsoft Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS), a new service that targets the Internet of Things (IoT).

This new Azure service helps customers embrace the Internet of Things and securely connect to, manage and capture machine-generated data from sensors and devices, regardless of the underlying operating system.

In an interview with eWEEK, Barb Edson, general manager of marketing for Windows Embedded at Microsoft, said Microsoft’s Windows Embedded team created the new Microsoft Azure Intelligent Systems Service, which features software agents to enable different devices to interact with the service.

“At the Build conference we committed to the Internet of Things and making Windows more accessible to smaller devices,” Edson said. “We understand that the Internet of Things is a heterogeneous world and that we’ll need to support any operating system. On the device side we have these software agents. The unique value is you have these software agents that sit on top of the operating system.”

According to this webpage for folks looking to apply for the ISS preview, the new service “provides agents and open-source agent software to support heterogeneous operating systems and protocols across LoB [Line of Business] assets, alleviating barriers from custom solutions that take many months to implement and may have limitations supporting diverse environments. The result is a more comprehensive and much faster solution to deliver, accelerating adoption and deployment to yield enterprise value.”

“We built this service – both the cloud service and the agents on the device -- to enable the connectivity and messaging to run between the device and the cloud service,” Edson told eWEEK. It sort of sounds like an updated page from Microsoft’s old Live Mesh strategy.

Microsoft announced its new cloud service at the company’s Accelerate Your Insights event in San Francisco on April 15. The Intelligent Systems Service marks a critical expansion of the comprehensive Microsoft cloud-first data platform aimed at addressing some of the challenges facing enterprises, Edson said.

Moreover, Microsoft refers to the Internet of Your Things as “a fresh look at IoT that focuses on how companies can use the approach to gain new insights, optimize business processes, make more informed decisions, identify new revenue opportunities, and understand and predict customer and partner behaviors in ways they never thought possible,” Edson said in a blog post.

Essentially, Edson’s view of the Internet of Things is it is “the opportunity for businesses to connect data from devices and sensors with the cloud and business intelligence tools to gain new insights, optimize processes, identify new revenue opportunities and more,” she said in an April 15 blog post.

At the April 15 customer event in San Francisco, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella showcased innovations now available with the launch of SQL Server 2014 and outlined the company’s path to deliver a platform for ambient intelligence. Nadella stressed the importance of a data culture — one that encourages curiosity, action and experimentation — for everyone and every organization. Microsoft also shared the results of new IDC research that shows companies that take a comprehensive approach to data stand to realize an additional 60 percent return on their data assets — a worldwide opportunity of $1.6 trillion.