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Microsoft IoT Central broadens reach with simplicity of SaaS for enterprise-grade IoT

By Sam George, Microsoft Director, Azure IoT

December 6, 2017

IoT is fast becoming a key strategy for companies of all sizes, as they strive to get closer to their customers and offer great product experiences—all while reducing operational expenditures. Until now, however, it’s been a major hurdle to gain the skills needed to build and manage connected solutions. This obstacle has been further compounded by concerns about security, scalability, and difficulties finding an IoT solution that has built-in best practices gained from years of experience in the sector.

This is why today we are pleased to launch the public preview of Microsoft IoT Central to address these barriers. Microsoft IoT Central is the first true highly scalable IoT software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that offers built-in support for IoT best practices and world-class security along with the reliability, regional availability, and global scale of the Microsoft Azure cloud. Microsoft IoT Central allows companies worldwide to build production-grade IoT applications in hours—without having to manage all the necessary back-end infrastructure or learn new skills. In short, Microsoft IoT Central enables everyone to benefit from IoT.

IoT Solutions without the hassle

Microsoft IoT Central takes the hassle out of creating an IoT solution by eliminating the complexities of initial setup as well as the management burden and operational overhead of a typical IoT project. That means you can bring your connected product vision to life faster while staying focused on your customers and products. The end-to-end IoT SaaS solution equips you to harness the “digital feedback loop” to draw better insights from your data and convert them into intelligent actions that result in better products and experiences for your customers.

By reducing the time, skills, and investment required to develop a robust enterprise-grade IoT solution, Microsoft IoT Central also sets you up to quickly reap the powerful business benefits of IoT. You can get started quickly, connecting devices in seconds and moving from concept to production in hours. The complete IoT solution lets you seamlessly scale from a few to millions of connected devices as your IoT needs grow. Moreover, it removes guesswork thanks to simple and comprehensive pricing that makes it easier for you to plan your IoT investments and achieve your IoT goals.

On the security front, Microsoft IoT Central leverages industry-leading privacy standards and technologies to help ensure your data is only accessible to the right people in your organization. With IoT privacy features such as role-based access and integration with Azure Active Directory permissions, you stay in control of your information.

From years of working in the commercial space, we understand organizations’ need to take advantage of existing applications and data to glean richer insights, integrate business workflows, and take more effective actions. So, in the coming months, Microsoft IoT Central will also be able to integrate with customers’ existing business systems—such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, SAP, and Salesforce—to accelerate more proactive sales, service, and marketing.

Several customers have already started building solutions for their businesses with Microsoft IoT Central. Here’s what they have to say:

  • “Small-scale IoT use cases are rare, even though they can have profound social impact. Why? Because each use case has unique needs that in turn require special sensor configurations and secure provisioning to the cloud before the solution can even be turned on. Arrow has simplified this process by bringing together Microsoft’s IoT Central platform and Libelium’s Plug & Sense IoT Toolkits, which help small, medium, and even large businesses get their IoT projects up and running sooner. Microsoft’s IoT Central solution helped us pilot in weeks, at minimal cost, a public school environmental monitoring solution that would have taken a year to develop from scratch. School and government officials can now monitor and improve the safety of public spaces without the cost and duration of typical IoT projects.” – Jeff Reed, PhD, VP Microsoft Global Alliance at Arrow Electronics
  • “Mesh Systems is passionate about the work Microsoft is doing with the release of Microsoft IoT Central. We recognize how Microsoft IoT Central accelerates projects that need entry-level simplicity while also be extendable to meet more complex requirements. We value this level of SaaS offering from Microsoft because it allows us to focus on identifying and iterating on the application business transformation, which is critical across the IoT market.” – Uri Kluk, CTO, Mesh Systems
  • “With Microsoft IoT Central and partner VISEO, we created and deployed IoT solutions quickly, securely, and at scale—with the reach and resources of the global Azure cloud platform. The solution we implemented enables us to collect telemetry data on thousands of our devices. We are now able to do predictive maintenance and ensure our firmware is always up to date—critical advantages in the health field. With this data, we are better able to serve our market and adapt our service to the needs of our customers.” – Philippe Angotta, Director of Customer Relations, LPG
  • “Patterson Companies believes there is an opportunity to realize significant improvement in dental device fix/repair service-level outcomes for its customers via an IoT Remote Monitoring & Diagnostics solution. The OEMs that manufacture dental devices are actively implementing and enhancing their IoT capabilities to provide ongoing performance data from devices connected at the dental office. Microsoft IoT Central provides a highly configurable and intuitive solution to define the criteria needed to monitor and diagnose any variety of connected devices. This in turn equips Patterson service technicians with current and past performance data, allowing them to transition from a reactive stance to one that is proactive and results in higher levels of customer satisfaction.” – Nate Hill, Principal Architect, Patterson Dental
  • “The Umbra Group is excited to work with Microsoft IoT Central and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations to monitor performance and health of our systems in ways we never have been able to do before. These new tools enable us to integrate commercial, supply chain, production, and product data from the time an order is placed all the way through to serving up insights for how and when to service a device. Umbra expects to see tremendous benefits during product development and testing by being able to see and act on real-time performance data regardless of location. Our customers will be thrilled to be able to have maintenance activities performed during scheduled machine down time instead of experiencing interruptions in service, since machine conditions will now be predictable.” – David Manzanares, Vice President of Engineering, Umbra Group
  • “Digital transformation will drive mass-scale growth of the IoT market. Scalable, secure, reliable, and pay-per-use solutions are needed to handle these volumes efficiently. ICT Group has a strong focus on the Industrial IoT market, and Microsoft IoT Central offers us the ability to create insights and add real business value. ICT Group has been involved in the development of Microsoft IoT Central from the start. Microsoft IoT Central has enabled us to gather more valuable insights to inform how we manage our products with this digital feedback loop.” – Aart Wegink, Director Digital Transformation, ICT Group, The Netherlands

Microsoft is leading the way in IoT innovation, and we are committed to introducing new features at a rapid pace so customers can quickly and continually reap benefits and stay ahead of the game. As a true IoT SaaS solution, Microsoft IoT Central gives customers automatic access to new features as they’re released. It also frees customers from updating the underlying hardware.

Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning Service now available

To further simplify IoT, we are also announcing the availability of Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning Service. Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning Service enables zero-touch device provisioning and configuration of millions of devices to Azure IoT Hub in a secure and scalable manner. Device Provisioning Service adds important capabilities that, together with Azure IoT Hub device management, help customers easily manage all stages of the IoT device lifecycle.

For a deeper look into the features of Microsoft IoT Central, check out the new Microsoft IoT Central website and demo, and start your free trial today. Also, for a deeper dive be sure to see our blog post, “Microsoft IoT Central delivers low-code way to build IoT solutions fast.”

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