Category Archives : Internet of Things

20

Sep

Remote Monitoring Solution allows for root cause analysis with Azure Time Series Insights

With the abundance of data coming from IoT devices and the global nature of business today, it’s essential to be able to understand correlations and track historical trends across your assets.

Imagine managing a fleet of trucks carrying items that need to be maintained at a specific temperature. Occasionally you see a low temperature alert triggered for some of your trucks during their daily scheduled delivery. As an operator, you will need to conduct a root cause analysis to understand why this is happening, if there are recurring patterns, and how to prevent it from happening in the future.

To help you with this, we’re excited to announce that we have now integrated Azure Time Series Insights into the Azure IoT Remote Monitoring solution accelerator. With Time Series Insights, you can gain deeper insights into your time-series sensor data by spotting trends, anomalies, and correlations across real-time and historical data in all your locations. New Remote Monitoring deployments (both Basic and Standard) will include Time Series Insights out-of-the-box* at no extra cost. All messages data from your IoT devices will be stored in Time Series Insights, but your alarms, rules, and configuration settings will remain in Cosmos DB.

With this

06

Sep

Where is the market opportunity for developers of IoT solutions?

In this article I discuss the biggest market opportunities for developers of IoT solutions. This is a topic of greatest interest to developers from independent software vendors (ISVs), and system integrators (SIs) who develop custom solutions for individual customers. For more resources, including a solution guide, podcasts, webinars, partner and customer highlights, explore Expanding business opportunities with IoT.

Opportunities for ISVs

The figure below shows the three layers in a typical IoT solution stack where an ISV could target their development.

Figure 1: IoT Solution Stack

Cloud platform: a set of PaaS services used to develop cloud-based solutions. Most cloud platforms also provide specialized analytics and IoT services. IoT platform: a set of PaaS and SaaS services for rapid development of IoT solutions. IoT platforms are usually built on top of a cloud platform. IoT solution: the end-user applications that help users in manufacturing companies to extract actionable insights from IoT data. IoT solutions can be built either on top of an IoT platform, or directly on top of a cloud platform.

For this article, the development of cloud platforms is out-of-scope. The cloud platform vendor ecosystem is already crowded, and the barriers to entry are extremely high. Only

04

Sep

Describe, diagnose, and predict with IoT Analytics

In a previous blog article Extracting actionable insights from IoT data I discuss the value of collecting IoT data from machines, assets and products. The whole point of collecting IoT data is to extract actionable insights. Insights that will trigger some sort of action that will result in some business value such as optimized factory operations, improved product quality, better understanding of customer demand, new sources of revenue, and improved customer experience.

In this blog, I discuss the extraction of value out of IoT data by focusing on the analytics part of the story.

Generally speaking, data analytics comes in four types (Figure 1):

Descriptive, to answer the question: What’s happening? Diagnostic, to answer the question: Why’s happening? Predictive, to answer the question: What will happen? Prescriptive, to answer the question: What actions should we take?

Figure 1: IoT Analytics Flavors

Since IoT analytics is a subcase of data analytics, these types map nicely onto IoT analytics as follows:

Data Analytics Type

Focus

IoT Application

Representative Questions

Implementation

Descriptive

What’s happening?

Monitor the status of machines, devices, products, and assets.

Assess if things are

29

Aug

Announcing general availability of Azure IoT Hub’s integration with Azure Event Grid

We’re proud to see more and more customers using Azure IoT Hub to control and manage billions of devices, send data to the cloud and gain business insights. We are excited to announce that IoT Hub integration with Azure Event Grid is now generally available, making it even easier to transform these insights into actions by simplifying the architecture of IoT solutions. Some key benefits include:

Easily integrate with modern serverless architectures, such as Azure Functions and Azure Logic Apps, to automate workflows and downstream processes. Enable alerting with quick reaction to creation, deletion, connection, and disconnection of devices. Eliminate the complexity and expense of polling services and integrate events with 3rd party applications using webhooks such as ticketing, billing system, and database updates.

Together, these two services help customers easily integrate event notifications from IoT solutions with other powerful Azure services or 3rd party applications. These services add important device lifecycle support with events such as device created, device deleted, device connected, and device disconnected, in a highly reliable, scalable, and secure manner.

Here is how it works:

As of today, this capability is available in the following regions:

Asia Southeast Asia East Australia East Australia

28

Aug

Extracting actionable insights from IoT data to drive more efficient manufacturing

Thanks to the explosion of IoT we now have millions of devices, machines, products, and assets connected and streaming terabytes of data. But connecting to devices, ingesting and storing their sensor data is just the first step. The whole point of collecting this data is to extract actionable insights — insights that will trigger some sort of action that will result in business value such as:

Optimized factory operations: reduce cycle time, increase throughput, increase machine utilization, reduce costs, reduce unplanned downtime. Improved product quality: reduce manufacturing defects, identify design features that are causing manufacturing problems. Better understanding of customer demand: validate usage assumptions, understand product usage patterns. New sources of revenue: support attached services, Product-as-a-Service models. Improved customer experience: respond more quickly to issues, help them optimize their usage of your product.

Extracting insights from IoT data is essentially a big data analytics challenge. It’s about analyzing lots of data, coming in fast, from different sources and in different formats. But it’s not your garden-variety analytics problem because: (1) data comes from “things” (as opposed to from humans or other software systems), (2) IoT data is almost always real-time, streamed, time-series data, coming in at different frequencies, and (3)

20

Aug

Hardening the security of Azure IoT Edge
Hardening the security of Azure IoT Edge

Azure IoT Edge which recently became generally available, designs in security from the ground up with avenues for custom security hardening. Security hardening entails additional security measures for given deployments in response to perceived higher threats like physical accessibility of devices by malicious actors. But how do stakeholders go about with security hardening?

The nature of IoT, Azure IoT Edge included, is such that security threats differ between products and deployments, and solutions are seldom one size fits all. There’s always the need to balance security investments with protection goals and missing this balance results in either inadequate protection or overspending. One very important axis towards achieving this balance is to assess the risks on the IoT device and invest in adequate secure silicon hardware technologies like hardware security modules (HSM) for mitigation. HSM products widely vary in capabilities and cost with some costing orders of magnitude more than others. Rather than coerce the use of one HSM for security hardening, Azure IoT Edge takes a more customizing and accommodating approach.

Azure IoT Edge introduces the Azure IoT Edge security manager to facilitate achievement of this balance.

The Azure IoT Edge security manager is a well-bounded security core for

16

Aug

Installing certificates into IoT devices
Installing certificates into IoT devices

Lots of folks are moving to X.509 certificate-based authentication as they start to use the Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning Service, which is great! But I’ve gotten lots of questions about what the best practices are, and how to go about doing it at scale. There are a lot of variables that influence where certs come from and how they are installed, and who owns each stage depends on the specific processes and business relationships in place. This blog post is meant to provide some clarity around the cert generation and installation process for IoT devices at production-level scales.

One note before I begin, if you already have a system in place for installing certificates on your IoT devices and its working out for you, great! Feel free to stop reading and check out some of our other content. This blog post is for folks who are just making the switch to using certificates on IoT devices and are struggling with figuring out what works best.

Mandatory security rant

If you’re coming from the land of passwords and want a quick fix, you might be asking yourself why you can’t use the same certificate in all your devices like you

16

Aug

IoT in Action: Building secure, sophisticated solutions

With a compound annual growth rate of 28.5 percent forecasted by 2020, the global Internet of Things (IoT) market is exploding, and the technology behind IoT continues to evolve at a feverish pace.

Here at Microsoft, we’re working hard to secure, simplify, and democratize IoT so that every customer can transform business, and the world at large, with connected solutions. This is why Microsoft has committed $5 billion to IoT over the next four years.
 
While IoT offers companies across industries a wealth of powerful benefits, the reality of implementation poses serious considerations such as security, complexity and scalability–not to mention keeping up with all the innovations flooding the market.

In the run up to the IoT in Action kickoff event for FY18 (where you’ll definitely learn more), I’d like to briefly touch on some key areas to consider when preparing to build out your IoT solution.

Make security intentional with Azure Sphere

Did you know that more than 9 billion microcontroller units (MCU) are deployed each year? From a risk standpoint, that’s 9 billion more opportunities for compromised security. Which means, making end-to-end security a priority from the start is a top priority.

Recently, as part of

09

Aug

Now Available: Azure Sphere technical documentation

In April we announced Azure Sphere to the world. Since then, we’ve been pleased with the deep customer interest and engaging media conversations. This dialogue has been an opportunity to share Microsoft’s vision and commitment to an end-to-end, secured IoT platform and listen to feedback from partners, customers and consumers. Microsoft will continue to tirelessly advocate for IoT security that is not an afterthought. An IoT device must include security measures that that span silicon, software and cloud from the moment that device is first conceived in a designers mind.

Azure Sphere’s purpose is to help manufacturers easily and affordably build MCU-powered devices that are informed by Microsoft’s decades of security experience and protected through their connection to the Azure Sphere Security Service. With our public preview milestone just around the corner, we want to share more about the technology behind Azure Sphere. Just this week, we saw the release of Azure Sphere documentation, which covers a range of topics from architecture (an example is included in this blog post), key concepts, developing applications, and deploying those applications over-the-air to devices in the field. Also included is a QuickStart guide, tutorials and a selection of best practices – all of which will help you

09

Aug

Now Available: Azure Sphere technical documentation

In April we announced Azure Sphere to the world. Since then, we’ve been pleased with the deep customer interest and engaging media conversations. This dialogue has been an opportunity to share Microsoft’s vision and commitment to an end-to-end, secured IoT platform and listen to feedback from partners, customers and consumers. Microsoft will continue to tirelessly advocate for IoT security that is not an afterthought. An IoT device must include security measures that span silicon, software and cloud from the moment that device is first conceived in a designers mind.

Azure Sphere’s purpose is to help manufacturers easily and affordably build MCU-powered devices that are informed by Microsoft’s decades of security experience and protected through their connection to the Azure Sphere Security Service. With our public preview milestone just around the corner, we want to share more about the technology behind Azure Sphere. Just this week, we saw the release of Azure Sphere documentation, which covers a range of topics from architecture (an example is included in this blog post), key concepts, developing applications, and deploying those applications over-the-air to devices in the field. Also included is a QuickStart guide, tutorials and a selection of best practices – all of which will help you rapidly