Microsoft has opened up the Azure IoT Hub for general availability, providing a cloud-based middleware service that Internet of Things (IoT) project developers can use to provision and manage devices, as well as connect to back-end services for processing and analysing the collected data.
IoT Hub provides the vital bridge between the devices on the network and the software and services in the cloud that make up the application, allowing organisations to store, analyse and act on data collected from the devices in real time.
Microsoft said that IoT Hub supports standards-based open network protocols such as HTTPS, MQTT and AMQPS, the latter two of which are already widely used for lightweight messaging purposes, and is capable of simultaneously monitoring millions of devices.
At the other end, IoT Hub links up with other Azure services, such as Azure Machine Learning and Azure Stream Analytics, to process collected data and if necessary act on the results in real time.
"Microsoft's mission is to empower every person and organisation to achieve more. For businesses today, we believe that the IoT represents not only the next major wave of computing, but the next competitive advantage. Harnessing signals and untapped data from existing and new devices unlocks powerful insights," said Sam George, Microsoft's director for Azure IoT.
Security is a key concern when connecting devices to the internet, and IoT Hub provides per-device authentication, where each device is provisioned with its own key for secure communications with IoT Hub.
Microsoft also said that more vendors have signed up as part of the firm's Azure Certified for IoT programme that offers a choice of trusted solutions when building IoT projects. Advantech, Dell, HPE and Libelium are the latest firms to join the list of partners that now numbers nearly 30.
The Azure IoT Hub is being offered in three editions: Free, S1 and S2. The Free edition is intended for testing the capabilities of the IoT Hub service and is limited to 8,000 messages a day.
The S1 edition is designed for deployments that generate relatively small amounts of data, allowing up to 400,000 messages a day across all connected devices, while the S2 edition allows up to six million messages a day across all connected devices.
The S1 edition is priced at £15.28 per month until 31 March, then £30.55 afterwards, while the S2 edition costs £152.73 per month until 31 March, and £305.45 afterwards.
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