The Internet-of-Things (IoT) is one of the hot buzzwords that Microsoft and other cloud vendors have been using over the past year. Even so, IoT is still in its infancy and at this point it’s more likely to cause confusion for most IT Pros than it really helps to see how it can provide business solutions. To help put things in perspective IoT is essentially about collecting data and analyzing it. The driving forces behind IoT are that hardware and storage are cheap, connectivity is pervasive, many devices can automatically collect data and the data collected can enable new forms of analysis that weren’t possible before. The goals behind IoT projects include providing improved forecasting, competitive advantages or improved operational efficiencies. Back in September of 2015 Microsoft announced the availability of the Azure IoT Suite which is a cloud-based IoT solution framework that you can use to build your own IoT solutions. The Azure IoT Suite comes with prebuilt solutions for remote monitoring and predictive maintenance of devices. For more information about the Azure IoT Suite you can check out Top Ten: FAQs About the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite and the Cortana Analytics Suite.
So where does the Azure IoT Hub fit in? Azure IoT Hub is part the Azure IoT Suite. It provides a way to connect, provision and manage devices that provide data to IoT solutions. Before the February 4th announcement the Azure IoT was in preview mode. In Figure 1 you can see how the IoT Hub fits into the Azure IoT Suite’s Remote Monitoring Solution.
As you can see in Figure 1 the Azure IoT Hub is a bridge between customers’ devices and their Azure IoT solutions. The IoT Hub enables you to collect and process device data in real time. Devices can connect to the IoT Hub using TCP/IP and it supports open protocols like MQTT, HTTPS and AMQPS. Microsoft provides an IoT SDK that can enable businesses and partners to develop their own connectors to the IoT Hub. Microsoft also has a partner program associated with its Azure IoT Suite. The Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT program aims to bolster device interoperability. Some of the notable partners include Intel, Texas Instruments, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and DELL. You can find out more about the Azure IoT hub at Microsoft Enhances End-to-End IoT Platform.