Category Archives : Internet of Things

08

Apr

Leveraging AI and digital twins to transform manufacturing with Sight Machine

In the world of manufacturing, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has come, and that means data. A lot of data. Smart machines, equipped with sensors, add to the large quantity of data already generated from quality systems, MES, ERP and other production systems. All this data is being gathered in different formats and at different cadences making it nearly impossible to use—or to deliver business insights. Azure has mastered ingesting and storing manufacturing data with services such as Azure IoT Hub and Azure Data Lake, and now our partner Sight Machine has solved for the other huge challenge: data variety. Sight Machine on Azure is a leading AI-enabled analytics platform that enables manufacturers to normalize and contextualize plant floor data in real-time. The creation of these digital twins allows them to find new insights, transform operations, and unlock new value.

Data in the pre-digital world

Manufacturers are aware of the untapped potential of production data. Global manufacturers have begun investing in on-premises solutions for capturing and storing factory floor data. But these pre-digital world methods have many disadvantages. They result in siloed data, uncontextualized data (raw machine data with no connection to actual production processes), and limited accessibility (engineers

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08

Apr

Expanding Azure IoT certification service to support Azure IoT Edge devices

In December 2018, Microsoft launched the Azure IoT certification service, a web-based test automation workflow to streamline the certification process through self-serve tools. Azure IoT certification service (AICS) was designed to reduce the operational processes and engineering costs for hardware manufacturers to get their devices certified for Azure Certified for IoT program and be showcased on the Azure IoT device catalog.

The initial version of AICS focused on IoT device certification. Today, we are taking steps to expand the service to now also support Azure IoT Edge Device certification. Azure IoT Edge device is a device which comprised of three key components: IoT Edge modules, IoT Edge runtime and a cloud-based interface. Learn more about these three components in this blog explaining IoT Edge.

What it means to certify as Azure IoT Edge device is that the certification program validates the functionality of three key components described above. The certification program also ensures that the identity of a device is protected through validation of security components. You can review specific technical requirements for Azure IoT Edge device certification.

This expansion of AICS capabilities builds on the related expansion of the Azure Certified for IoT program to support Azure IoT Edge

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04

Apr

Device template library in IoT Central
Device template library in IoT Central

With the new addition of a device template library into our Device Templates page, we are making it easier than ever to onboard and model your devices. Now, when you get started with creating a new template, you can choose between building one from scratch or you can quickly select from a library of existing device templates. Today you’ll be able to choose from our MXChip, Raspberry Pi, or Windows 10 IoT Core templates. We will be working to improve this library by adding more device templates which provide customer value.

The addition of the device template library helps to streamline the device modeling workflow. It saves time as you can pre-populate a model with existing details. This now opens the door for more manufacturers to create standard definitions for their devices or smart products which we’ll continue to include in this growing template library.

To get started with selecting a device template, select the Device Templates tab and click the “+ New” button. This will bring you to our library page where you can choose which template you’d like to get quickly started with. You can also choose the Custom option if you would like to begin modeling your

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02

Apr

IoT in Action: Enabling cloud transformation across industries

The intelligent cloud and intelligent edge go hand-in-hand, and together they are sparking massive transformation across industries. As computing gets more deeply embedded in the real world, powerful new opportunities arise to transform revenue, productivity, safety, customer experiences, and more. According to a white paper by Keystone Strategy, digital transformation leaders generate 8 percent more per year in operating income than other enterprises.

But what does cloud transformation look like within the context of the Internet of Thing (IoT)?

Below I’ve laid out a typical cloud transformation journey and provided examples of how the cloud is transforming city government, industrial IoT, and oil and gas innovators. For a deep dive on this very topic, I hope you’ll join me and a whole host of cloud and IoT experts, and Microsoft partners and customers at the upcoming IoT in Action event in Houston.

The typical cloud transformation journey

As mentioned, the cloud is a vital piece of IoT. Below I’ve outlined a typical cloud journey.

Embrace an innovation mindset: The first part of the cloud transformation journey—and this applies to digital transformation in general—is building a culture and mindset that is willing to innovate, and welcomes change and the potential

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02

Apr

Updates to geospatial functions in Azure Stream Analytics – Cloud and IoT edge

Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed PaaS service that helps you run real-time analytics and complex event processing logic on telemetry from devices and applications. Numerous built-in functions available in Stream Analytics helps users build real-time applications using simple SQL language with utmost ease. By using these capabilities customers can quickly realize powerful applications for scenarios such as fleet monitoring, connected cars, mobile asset tracking, geofence monitoring, ridesharing, etc.

Today, we are excited to announce several enhancements to geospatial features. These features will help customers manage a much larger set of mobile assets and vehicle fleet easily, accurately, and more contextually than previously possible. These capabilities are available both in the cloud and on Azure IoT edge.

Here is a quick run-down of the new capabilities:

Geospatial indexing

Previously, to track ‘n’ number of assets in streaming data across ‘m’ number of geofence reference data points, in the geospatial context, translated into a cross join of every reference data entry with every streaming event thus resulting in an O(n*m) operation. This presented scale issues in scenarios where customers need to manage thousands of assets across hundreds of sites.

To address this limitation, Stream Analytics now supports indexing geospatial data

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01

Apr

The future of manufacturing is open
The future of manufacturing is open

With the expansion of IoT across all industries data is becoming the currency of innovation. Organizations have both an opportunity and a business imperative to adopt technologies quickly, build digital competencies, and offer new value-added services that will serve their broader ecosystem.

Manufacturing is an industry where IoT is having a transformational impact, yet which also requires many companies to come together for IoT to be effective. We see several challenges that slow down innovation in manufacturing, such as proprietary data structures from legacy industrial assets and closed industrial solutions. These closed structures foster data silos and limit productivity, hindering production and profitability. It takes more than new software to drive transformation—it takes a new approach to open standards, an ecosystem mindset, the ability to break out of the “walled garden” for data as well as new technology.

This is why Microsoft has invested heavily in making Azure work seamlessly with OPC UA. In fact, we are the leading contributor of open source software to the OPC Foundation. To further this open platform approach, we have collaborated with world-leading manufacturers to accelerate innovation in industrial IoT to shorten time to value. But we feel we need to do more, not

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01

Apr

Schema validation with Event Hubs
Schema validation with Event Hubs

Event Hubs is fully managed, real-time ingestion Azure service. It integrates seamlessly with other Azure services. It also allows Apache Kafka clients and applications to talk to Event Hubs without any code changes.

Apache Avro is a binary serialization format. It relies on schemas (defined in JSON format) that define what fields are present and their type. Since it’s a binary format, you can produce and consume Avro messages to and from the Event Hubs.

Event Hubs’ focus is on the data pipeline. It doesn’t validate the schema of the Avro events.

If it’s expected that the producer and consumers will not be in sync with the event schemas, there needs to be “source of truth” for the schema tracking, both for producers and consumers.

Confluent has a product for this. It’s called Schema Registry. Schema Registry is part of the Confluent’s open source offering.

Schema Registry can store schemas, list schemas, list all the versions of a given schema, retrieve a certain version of a schema, get the latest version of a schema, and it can do schema validation. It has a UI and you can manage schemas via its REST APIs as well.

What are my options

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27

Mar

Hannover Messe 2019: Azure IoT Platform updates power new, highly-secured Industrial IoT Scenarios

We’re proud to be showcasing at Hannover Messe once again next week. Manufacturing continues to be one of the leading industries adopting IoT for a growing set of scenarios to improve safety, efficiency, and reliability for people and devices. Every year, I get to meet with partners and customers and learn about how their needs and use cases are growing and changing, as they continue to digitize their operations and deliver on the promise of Industry 4.0. They want security more integrated into every layer, protecting data from different industrial processes and operations from the edge to the cloud. They want to enable proof-of-concepts quickly to improve the pace of innovation and learning, and then scale quickly and effectively. And they want to manage digital assets at scale, not dozens of devices and sensors. Over the last year, we’ve made several significant additions to our IoT platform to address these needs, including the launch of Azure Digital Twins and Azure Sphere and the general availability of Azure IoT Central and Azure IoT Edge. Next week at Hannover Messe, we’re introducing a set of new product capabilities and programs that make it easier for our customers to build enterprise-grade industrial IoT

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27

Mar

Azure Sphere ecosystem accelerates innovation
Azure Sphere ecosystem accelerates innovation

The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to help businesses cut costs and create new revenue streams, but it also brings an unsettling amount of risk. No one wants a fridge that gets shut down by ransomware, a toy that spies on children, or a production line that’s brought to a halt through an entry point in a single hacked sensor.

So how can device builders bring a high level of security to the billions of network-connected devices expected to be deployed in the next decade?

It starts with building security into your IoT solution from the silicon up. In this piece, I will discuss the holistic device security of Azure Sphere, as well as how the expansion of the Azure Sphere ecosystem is helping to accelerate the process of taking secure solutions to market. For additional partner-delivered insights around Azure Sphere, view the Azure Sphere Ecosystem Expansion Webinar.

A new standard for security

Small, lightweight microcontrollers (or MCUs) are the most common class of computer, powering everything from appliances to industrial equipment. Organizations have learned that security for their MCU-powered devices is critical to their near-term sales and to the long-term success of their brands (one successful attack can

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27

Mar

What’s new in Azure IoT Central – March 2019
What’s new in Azure IoT Central – March 2019

In IoT Central, our aim is to simplify IoT. We want to make sure your IoT data drives meaningful actions and visualizations. In this post, I will share new features now available in Azure IoT Central including embedded Microsoft Flow, updates to the Azure IoT Central connector, Azure Monitor action groups, multiple dashboards, and localization support. We also recently expanded Jobs functionality in IoT Central, so you can check out the announcement blog post to learn more.

Microsoft Flow is now embedded in IoT Central

You can now build workflows using your favorite connectors directly within IoT Central. For example, you can build a temperature alert rule that triggers a workflow to send push notifications and SMS all in one place within IoT Central. You can also test and share the workflow, see the run history, and manage all workflows attached to that rule.

Try it out in your IoT Central app by visiting Device Templates in Rules, adding a new action, and picking the Microsoft Flow tile.

Updated Azure IoT Central connector: Send a command and get device actions

With the updated Azure IoT Central connector, you can now build workflows in Microsoft Flow and Azure Logic Apps

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