Overall the Microsoft Build 2016 conference in Toronto was a good one – if you can’t make it out to the main event in San Francisco, you can still get a feel for the things that Microsoft is working on relevant to the developer community. RedBit’s, Mark Arteaga, a Microsoft MVP attended to assist with welcoming attendees and to find out what developers are thinking and working on and what they see for the future. One session, in particular, focused on Azure and IoT. For the digital enterprise, the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite can be a great toolset when planning the development of an IoT solution.
IoT Project Considerations
There are a few things that enterprises should consider when embarking on an IoT project, outside of the development.
- First, and most important, is infrastructure. IoT is about connecting a bunch of devices to the internet – potentially supporting 100’s, 100’s of thousands, even millions of devices that are pushing data 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, every second or on varying intervals. Enterprises need to ensure their infrastructure can handle the sheer volume of data. If there is a legacy infrastructure in place – a customized application that is critical to business operations for example – considerations will need to include whether your IoT programming can work directly with the existing infrastructure or whether wrappers, using standard based technology REST API’s etc. – need to be built.
- Second, is communication. Wherever the IoT devices are going to be geographically can impact the success of a project. A strong and reliable network connection point could be a concern if your IoT device is being used in a remote area where cell or data coverage is limited. How are the data packets going to be conveyed to your system?
- Third is the business process. IoT solutions often mean a shift from a product based business model to more of a service based model. And, all of that data is going to need to be analyzed and actioned in new ways that could mean a change to the workforce and at the minimum an increase in training requirements for existing resources.
Choosing an IoT Project Partner
If a business chooses to work with a partner to build and implement IoT solutions, it should be a partner who is versed in developing software for both the IoT device and the backend. At RedBit, we play with hardware, but we are not hardware manufacturers.
We have a network of hardware partners who can prototype hardware development and help to get into the production stages of IoT devices, taking into account progressive and legacy manufacturing processes and working environments for the devices.
A partner should understand how to prototype, build out the backend solution (most likely cloud-based) and assist with manufacturing. RedBit is strong in writing for an embedded device with limited available computing resources, and vast interconnected backend systems – both hardware and software engineering.
A partner should also be knowledgeable about what else is going on in the industry and how to leverage technology for the benefit of the business. For example can a Xamarin based enterprise Line of Business app help the business and IoT solution being provided? All angles and integration points need to be looked at again for the benefit of the company and to maximize success.
Azure for IoT
Once the main considerations and choice of partner have been sorted out and enterprises are ready to embark on building an IoT solution, Azure’s IoT Suite offers a 3rd party solution, including Azure IoT Hub that assists with the capture and analysis of data and communication with legacy data infrastructures, Power BI to report on live data and Stream Analytics to push and report on data. There are even some predictive maintenance analysis opportunities.
The future of IoT and the digital enterprise is being written daily and the Azure IoT Suite is a big part of it.
Listen to our chat with Mark where he answers the following questions:
- How was this year’s Microsoft Build Toronto conference? What role did you play at this years’ event?
- What do enterprises need to be aware of when tackling an IoT project?
- What should a company look for in a Microsoft partner to help them design and implement an IoT solution?
- What’s the benefits of Microsoft Azure as a foundation for an IoT project?
- What’s next in IoT and the “digital enterprise”?