Internet of Things (IoT) on Microsoft

What is IoT: Internet of Things (IoT) has become the buzzword today (even though it was coined long time back… in 1990s by MIT professors). IoT simply means: “all entities connected”. Everything connected ranging from your home appliances (like TV, refrigerator, Microwave, Car etc.) to office appliances (tablets, laptops, phones etc.) to industry specific devices (manufacturing units, sensors, CCTVs etc.).

When we go to buy grocery, the point of sales personnel scans barcodes from each item. This updates backend inventory and all kinds of reports are generated. This labelling of even technically incapable items like fruits/soaps is nothing but a simple example of IoT in retail. Microsoft has worked with London Underground transport system on this concept where not only rails but also things like lifts, escalators, cctvs, temperature/humidity monitoring units etc. are all connected and providing intelligence in real-time.

IoT and StreamInsight: With large number of entities connected, there are IoT scenarios where we need to analyse data in near real-time. We cannot wait to store data coming from small devices to be first stored in database and then analysed later. Microsoft’s StreamInsight (that we released back in SQL 2008 R2) which is also available as an Azure Service holds important place in such IoT scenarios. Using StreamInsight we can perform BI on data on real-time before it even gets stored in database which is a must for many scenarios.

IoT and BigData: With IoT, it is natural to have a very large data storage with wide data formats (not just relational) that traditional SQL Server were never designed for. With such large storage of data it is also expected to analyse this data at a speed that SQL Server cannot deliver (SQL Server is typically good for Terabytes only). Many organizations cannot afford solutions like SQL Parallel Data warehouse (PDW). So, the only choice remaining with large data associated with IoT is using Big Data techniques like Microsoft’s HDInsight (Hadoop implementation on Azure) or HDP for windows (Hadoop implementation on premise).

IoT and Embedded Systems: With the need for every device to be connected (by IoT philosophy), it is natural to build intelligent small devices. Technologies like .NET Micro framework/ .NET Compact frameworks or Windows embedded 8.1. Microsoft’s Intelligent Systems Service is the central place to stop by for building such devices.

IoT and Service Bus: Microsoft is also creating the base for developing custom solutions that are very much relevant in IoT. Networking Technologies (like VPN) may not be sufficient enough to realize IoT in scenarios where small devices cannot be part of VPN (lets say) but with technologies like Service Bus, we can expect connected device vision.

IoT and Industry Verticals: Microsoft’s point of view about IoT is not just connecting everything (Internet of everything), rather connecting all those things that matter to us most. This creates many scenarios for IoT like IoT in retail, IoT in healthcare, IoT in manufacturing etc.

IoT and Microsoft: With Microsoft’s April 2014 announcement of Azure Intelligent Systems Service, we’ve provided a practical solution towards IoT demonstrating how IoT solutions could be built using HDInsight, PowerBI, embedded devices, Analytics Platform System (combining SQL (PDW) and Big Data (HDInsight)).


-Rahul Gangwar


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