Microsoft has announced their new Microsoft Azure IoT Edge that brings together all the capabilities of Azure IoT and allows users to run them on single devices that are IoT-ready.
Now some of you out there are probably asking, “Why do I need the breadth and scope of Azure to run a single Internet of Things device?” The answer is simple. With IoT Edge, you can now envision scenarios in which you need your code, application or resources closer to home including the ability to run real analytics and intelligence for your device.
Take, for example, a ship out to sea where satellite internet is available, or a large network of industrial devices located in 10 different geographies. With these new capabilities, you can now monitor, analyze, predict or control your devices locally versus connecting your devices to data centre locations that may or may not be in the same geography as your machines. In doing so, you can achieve much lower latencies with real-time analytics and intelligence. You also have increased device support for a broader range of IoT devices including Raspberry Pi.
One of the themes we are hearing already on day one is “cloud on the edge” or the idea of bringing the cloud to your local area, which includes this service and others like Azure Stack which we will write about later. Out of all the cloud conferences, we have gone to this year, this is the first to really push the idea of an intelligent cloud which removes traditional barriers by allowing users to move their code out of the data center and bring it to your locale.
I’m relieved that it isn’t just about AI or just Cognitive Services. It seems that Microsoft is ready to push the envelope and move beyond Amazon Web Services and Google, and I am not sure how those two will compete. After all, no one has anything conceptual similar to Azure Stack for example. As a comparison, the closest thing that comes to mind is the concept of Fog Computing. However, Microsoft’s vision is much more expansive and one has to consider that they not only have 38 data center regions (more than Google and AWS combined) but the fact that they are pushing their software and data center bits into any data center with Azure IoT Edge enabled.
So, What is Azure IoT Edge?
With IoT Edge, you can build hybrid Internet of Things solutions that can cross the gap between cloud, device and local capabilities into a single mesh. I for one am excited by this idea of “cloud mesh.” If anyone has a mesh router or network at home this concept fits right in. Using IoT on Azure lets you run your internet devices locally or on the edge with as much as a 20x reduction in latency. The example given during the keynote showed the latency drop from 2100+ milliseconds to as low as 90 milliseconds.
In addition to reduced latency, some of the other initially defined benefits include:
- Analytics on the edge
- Real-time decision-making capabilities
- Use legacy devices
- Operate without continuous internet connectivity
- Cost reduction
The capabilities offered are a first and significant step in bringing the resources, decision-making, and intelligence to your front door. More to come soon from Build.