When browsing the web for technology, you’ll inevitably encounter acronyms both familiar and foreign. One you’ve probably encountered, but may not have paid much mind to, is IoT, which stands for Internet of Things. IoT refers to the connection of physical devices (other than computers and smartphones) to the internet. Home appliances, cars and wearable fitness monitors are a few examples of devices that can all be connected through the IoT. Like many other companies offering solutions, Microsoft is in the mix of realizing and applying the concept to its service, Azure IoT Edge.
Throughout the following, we’ll take a brief look at the history of IoT, discuss Azure IoT Edge, touch on pricing, as well as discuss the upcoming trends in the overall realm of this technology.
History of IoT
The idea of IoT roots in an incredibly vague notion. In broad terms, it’s explained or defined as anything connected to the Internet that provides a kind of service to an end user. This overly inclusive definition leaves some feeling comfortable in applying “IoT” to everything while it generates questions for the more inquisitive.
What this means more specifically is that the wearable fitness tracker on your wrist, your garage door or any other stand-alone internet-connected device that can be controlled remotely can be considered IoT devices. The underlying idea is that several microservices connect these various entities, including everything from other IoT applications or devices to cloud resources.
The idea was officially coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, though the concept originated in the 70s around the same time the idea of “making computers talk” helped build the framework of the modern day Internet. Ashton’s descriptor didn’t begin to take hold until 2010, but now it’s applied to just about everything (sometimes erroneously) with an Internet connection.
Beyond the superficial definitions, service providers like Microsoft are applying this concept to real services with concrete offerings. Developers for the company have constructed Edge to act as a comprehensive IoT gateway, offering a suite of tools that facilitates more insight to development processes for a myriad of devices.
New IoT Edge Features
The problem many developers encounter when creating apps for the cloud is uncovering concise operational data for items being used in the real world. Some data can be ascertained from direct user feedback however, there’s a whole other dimension of insight generated from computer-driven analytics.
With Microsoft Azure IoT Edge, there’s both an acknowledgement to problems faced by developers and analysts as well as a roadmap to resolution. While it’s possible to collect immense amounts of data from any given device, the real issue revolves around both the what and how of this information to make it applicable.
Features built into IoT Edge are designed to help developers solve problems that transcend programming deficiencies by addressing how people actually use software. With IoT Edge, businesses gain an advantage because:
IoT devices can process information outside the boundaries of a physical device
With something simple like a fitness monitor, the device itself and smart device it’s paired with contain the computing power to capture and process information relatively quickly. However, more intensive business applications gain serious benefits as data can be exponentially greater, especially when compared to something providing non-complex data. With several tools that parse Java, C, C#, Python, and Node.js, large amounts of data can be processed in a language-agnostic system to help developers rapidly improve the functionality of software.
Machine learning introduces an unprecedented level of insight
Sure, real-world systems that can “think” seemed like sci-fi a couple decades ago, but today, forward-thinking companies are putting this technology to use in innovative ways. Leading motion picture studios, for example, are using machine learning to safely exceed human capabilities by implementing AI into robots that can be used to replace stunt people. Fundamentally, these robots function and improve much like IoT Edge in the sense that data is collected during every minute movement, analyzed, then applied to improve the next run. The same concept applies to business applications, where data is collected, assessed, then utilized to improve a service. Over time, learning processes from these machines will help to resolve and improve operations by catching situations not obvious to the human eye.
Azure Pricing: How Much is IoT Edge?
Like other types of monitoring agents in the market, a message is produced for every monitored event in an app or on a device, then classified by type and severity. Pricing is broken down by how much messaging is used per day for each connected device, which dictates the monthly cost for whatever tier of service is selected.
Two different tiers of service are currently available, the Basic tier and Standard tier, with the latter expanding on services offered by the former. There is a free version found in the Standard tier of service that allows for up to 8000 messages per day, per unit with a message allocation size of 0.5 Kb. The Basic tier and Standard tier both have paid service offerings, each beginning with an allotment of 400,000 messages per day, per unit, at $10 and $25 a month for 4 Kb messages, respectively. It’s possible to add substantially more messages per day, per unit with higher pricing tiers.
Upcoming IoT Trends & the Future of the Edge
In IoT news, there’s plenty of material circulating about overall trends for the current market with just about every source anticipating growth over the next 7 years. The global IoT market is estimated to be worth $1.1 trillion by 2025. Industries like medical, automotive, manufacturing, and cybersecurity will be the primary areas where IoT usage will likely see the most increase.
Right now, a lot of information is still speculation with regard to IoT platform growth. This is largely because one of the most important components (i.e. machine learning applications and AI) are relatively new for general business application. As such, growth should remain steady as businesses integrate this technology over the next several years.
Blog post by:
David Rodriguez, Practice Lead – Microsoft Productivity & Infrastructure, SADA Systems