When Satya Nadella first walked the corridors of power in Redmond, he did so with a clear vision for the future of Microsoft.
Outlined in an early memo to staff detailing the company’s future, the new chief claimed the modern day Microsoft would focus on cloud, mobility and the Internet of Things.
To be precise, Nadella stated that Microsoft’s mission centred around “harmonising the world's devices, apps, docs, data and social networks in digital work and life experiences”, billed as the key pillars of productivity.
“Productivity for us goes well beyond documents, spreadsheets and slides,” said Nadella in July 2014.
“We will reinvent productivity for people who are swimming in a growing sea of devices, apps, data and social networks.”
Two years on from the start of his tenure, Nadella has delivered on his promise with the release of the Microsoft Azure Internet of Things hub, sharpening the tech giant’s focus on key areas of growth in 2016 and beyond.
In essence, the Azure IoT Hub is a simple bridge between its customers’ devices with their systems in the cloud.
Operating as a cloud service for registering, managing and communicating with Internet-connected devices, the Azure IoT Hub will play a pivotal role in Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite - a cloud-based offering with preconfigured solutions for Internet of Things scenarios such as remote monitoring and predictive maintenance.
“Azure IoT Hub is the bridge between customers’ devices and their solutions in the cloud, allowing them to store, analyse and act on that data in real time,” wrote Sam George, Partner director for Azure IoT, Microsoft via the company’s official blog.
“Azure IoT Hub provides an easy and secure way to connect, provision and manage billions of IoT devices sending and receiving trillions of messages per month.”
George says Azure IoT Hub enables secure, reliable two-way communication - from device to cloud and cloud to device - over open protocols such as MQTT, HTTPS and AMQPS that are already widely used in IoT.
A key part of its appeal, according to George, is its ability to integrate with other Azure services, such as Azure Machine Learning and Azure Stream Analytics, acting on insights in real time by simultaneously monitoring millions of devices and taking action.
The release ties in with Nadella’s long-term goal of ensuring that Microsoft is at the forefront of the Internet of Things revolution, as it lays the groundwork to deliver an integrated platform to connect the millions of devices entering the ecosystem on a daily basis.
As reported by Computerworld New Zealand, as many as 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020.
So much so that Gartner estimates that by 2016 alone, 5.5 million new things will get connected every day.
To accommodate such rapid rates of growth, Nadella has ramped up Microsoft’s investments in Azure to make it the best enterprise IoT platform on the market, as outlined during the Azure IoT Hub launch.
“Over the past several years, Microsoft has been engineering the industry’s most comprehensive IoT platform, helping customers build industry solutions that connect their vast array of devices, services, analytics and back-end technologies,” George wrote.
“Our flexible and end-to-end IoT platform empowers anyone with a business idea, including startups and entrepreneurs that might not yet have extensive infrastructure, to benefit from powerful services and solutions they can provision in minutes.
“Today, we’re building on that mission of empowering companies to transform their business with IoT through a new offering.”
But while Azure IoT Hub is being billed as a “foundational service” for a customised IoT solution, George claims “it is just the start”.
“Microsoft goes beyond building block services by providing preconfigured IoT solutions, so that what used to take weeks for a customer to build can now be automatically provisioned in minutes with the Azure IoT Suite,” he adds.