An undeniable appeal of the Internet of Things (IoT) is that much of the needed data and equipment is already in place across industry. Taking advantage of the promise of the IoT is simply of matter of harnessing the data and analyzing it for business benefit. Of course, like anything else, it’s not quite as simple as that.
In most cases, the collection, capture and analysis of industrial data requires additional devices, apps, software and services to complete the feedback loop between the equipment generating the data and software performing the analysis. Because IoT initiatives are still relatively new, most of these connective technologies don't exist yet and are being built in response to specific industry needs that arise as companies pursue various IoT objectives.
To facilitate the development of these technologies and strategically position their companies as core IoT-enabling technology providers, Siemens and Microsoft have announced IoT technology development programs.
In Siemens case, it has created the MindSphere Partner Program around its cloud-based IoT operating system. According to Siemens, this global program “equips partners in both operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT) areas with the tools needed to help solve real business and technical challenges faced by end customers” using MindSphere and IoT technology.
More specifically, the MindSphere Partner Program addresses enterprise application connectivity protocol options, industry applications, advanced analytics via a development environment that uses Siemens’ open Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) capabilities and access to native Amazon Web Services. Target partner businesses for this program include system integrators, application developers, consulting and strategy partners, and technology and connectivity partners.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has launched Microsoft IoT Central, which the company claims to be “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—to harness the digital feedback loop—without having to manage all the necessary back-end infrastructure or learn new skills.”
Microsoft claims that Microsoft IoT Central can help companies looking to deliver IoT products “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.”
In terms of the security provided by Microsoft IoT Central, the company says this includes Microsoft’s privacy standards and technologies, such as IoT privacy features like role-based access and integration with Azure Active Directory permissions.
Microsoft adds that, 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.
Jeff Reed, vice president of the Microsoft Global Alliance at Arrow Electronics (a user of Microsoft IoT Central), said: “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, [an] … environmental monitoring solution that would have taken a year to develop from scratch.”