With new, lower-cost Azure IoT Hub subscriptions, Microsoft wants to make it easier for businesses to kick off their enterprise internet of things projects.
Served up by Microsoft's cloud, Azure IoT Hub is a device connectivity, provisioning and management service that the tech giant launched in early 2016. Since then, Microsoft has integrated the service with select third-party IoT connectivity platforms and bulked up its feature set by adding an optional automated device registration and provisioning capabilities for large-scale deployments.
Now, Microsoft is offering a version of the service for organizations that are taking the initial steps on their own IoT implementations. The service's new Basic tier, which slots under the Standard tier, lowers cost barriers for organizations looking to do business in an increasingly connected marketplace.
"It supports inbound telemetry scenarios and has all the same security, scale, performance, and reliability of the existing Azure IoT Hub standard tier," claimed Sam George, partner director of Azure Internet of Things at Microsoft, in an April 3 announcement. "And the best part is, when you're ready to continue your IoT journey, you can upgrade from basic to standard with zero downtime and no re-architecture."
Although both tiers share a lot in common, Basic lacks some features that allow for more sophisticated IoT setups.
For example, both Basic and Standard tiers offer monitoring, diagnostic, message routing and device-to-cloud telemetry capabilities. However, the Azure IoT Hub's cloud-to-device messaging, device twin and IoT edge support features remain exclusive to the service's Standard plans.
Azure IoT Hub Basic prices start at $10 per month per unit for a total of 400,000 messages a day on the B1 plan and top out at $500 per unit for 300 million messages per day on the B3 plan.
Meanwhile, existing Standard tier customers will see their bills slashed in half, George said. Users on the S1 plan who have been paying $50 per unit per month for 400,000 messages a day now pay $25. The high-end S3 plan now costs $2,500 per unit per month instead of $5,000.
Microsoft is relying on more than price cuts to entice businesses.
In December 2017, the company introduced a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering called IoT Central that allows non-coders to kick-start their IoT projects. The tool 's browser-based, drag-and-drop interface allows users to securely connect IoT devices and begin integrating them into their workflows.
If the market lives up to a lofty forecast from IDC, Microsoft's latest IoT moves may pay off.
The market research firm predicted that worldwide IoT spending will reach $772.5 billion in 2018, a healthy 14.6 percent jump from the estimated $647 billion in sales generated by the market in 2017. Manufacturers, transportation companies and utilities will be the biggest spenders, said IDC. By 2021, the market is expected to hit $1.1 trillion after having crossed the $1 trillion mark in 2020.