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From refrigerators that can place grocery orders, to Point-of-Sale machines that can update inventory and send real-time data on consumer behavior for analysis. And from elevators that can anticipate and report issues – with possible causes, to healthcare systems that can give physicians across the world 24/7 access to patient data. Welcome to the age of all-pervasive computing!
The Internet of Things (IoT) can transform the way we live and work. The machines and devices we use every day, now holds the intelligence to transfer data over a network, without human intervention. Even though this has been possible for nearly 20 years, IoT was considered too complicated and costly. But today, with the falling prices of IoT components, as well as better connectivity solutions, IoT is all set to become the next big thing in business.
Microsoft sees tremendous growth potential, with more and more companies adopting IoT. This software giant has therefore come up with several offerings that aid IoT, to tap into this lucrative market. Below are some of the major ones:
1. Microsoft Azure Intelligent Systems Service
It is a cloud based service which helps businesses leverage IoT by connecting, handling and storing machine generated data from devices and sensors in the IoT realm, in a secure manner. It is built on Windows Azure, and is OS independent, which means that existing hardware needn’t be completely overhauled. It is specifically designed to adapt to, and work around the existing infrastructure, including legacy systems. It connects to devices over IP and will receive regular updates, just like other Microsoft products. It comes loaded with some in-house data analysis tools, and also gives users the flexibility to add customized solutions on top of it. The result is a solution that is easy to implement and very cost-effective.
2. Microsoft SQL Server 2014
This is Microsoft’s database solution, intended primarily for use in Intelligent Systems. It is a comprehensive database platform which can interface with the cloud, and boasts of bringing in-memory capability, resulting in faster response and improved experience. It has advanced security features and provides for easy auditing and security management. It can crunch vast amounts of data, and facilitates monitoring and analysis of ‘data in motion’. Powerful tools like Data Quality Services, Master Data Services and Power Pivot aid in easy data management. SQL Server on its own generates an annual turnover of $5bn for Microsoft, and this latest version is a giant step towards achieving ‘ambient intelligence’ anywhere and everywhere.
3. HD Insight
This is a data analysis tool offered as part of the Azure Hadoop Service. It can process structured and semi-structured data from web clicks, social media, server logs, devices and sensors. It can process huge amounts of data, ranging from terabytes to petabytes, and does not need any additional hardware or upfront costs. It is integrated with MS-Excel, so that the user can analyze data in a familiar environment. It is even integrated with the Hortonworks data platform, which enables movement of data from in-house databases to cloud for backup, or testing purposes, as well as Apache Storm, which aids event driven data analysis. =
4. Power BI for Office 365
It is a cloud based Business Intelligence system with natural language capabilities. It comes with tools like Power Query for analysing data through Excel, Power Pivot for creating flexible data models, Power Map for analysing geographic and temporal data, and Power View for visual data representation.
5. Analytic Platform System (APS)
This is Microsoft’s ‘Big Data in a Box’ offering. It links traditional database models with Hadoop, making it possible for the user to query across the two systems. This is of great value to companies that prefer to have their data tools in-house, instead of in the cloud.
6. Azure Data Factory
It aids processing of diverse data, particularly in a hybrid environment, where data resides partly in the cloud, and partly in a traditional database. One of the highlights of this is the transformative data analysis, accomplished by combining and transforming data from various sources. For those with a diverse data portfolio, this is very handy in terms of managing data organization as well as the communication between groups of data.
7. Stream Analytics
It is a managed data analysis service that works in Hadoop to helps users process data from devices and sensors in the device. It works in tandem with Azure Event Hub to process millions of events per second. It can compare multiple real time streams to historical data. It provides high throughput with no loss of data, and the best part is, it does not have any associated hardware and can be installed easily.
Mckinsey Global Institute predicts that by 2025, IoT could have an economic impact between $3.7 to $6.2 trillion, and has the potential to drive productivity gains worth $36 trillion in operating costs in manufacturing, healthcare and mining. What’s more, International Data Corporation (IDC) research indicates that companies taking a holistic approach to data stand to realize an additional 60% return on their data assets. It is time for businesses to awaken to the phenomenon that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella appropriately calls the “data culture”.
When are you getting on board? To know more about your opportunities with IoT, and how to leverage them, get in touch with us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Credit: Microsoft IoT Blog