5
Nov

The Azure cloud wants to power the Internet of Things

Before turning over the Keynote podium at Microsoft’s Tech Ed Europe 2014 event to another Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Joe Bellfiore, Jason Zander brought two recent success stories to his audience’s attention:

  1. the London Underground, “a user of Azure with IoT”
  2. Coca Cola “working with self service kiosks”, and vending machines

This segue might have resulted from a rebranding of Windows Embedded as the best option for consumers to [c]reate the Internet of Your Things. Or, on the other hand, the segue into a mention of two very large organizations consuming Azure to support enormous populations of smart devices deployed for mission-critical requirements can also be read as a method of branding not only Azure cloud, but also a bunch of new big data SaaS offers designed to run on top of Azure PaaS.

If for no other reason than merely to demonstrate the extensive latitude Microsoft can opt to exercise as it chooses to build out its IoT messaging, readers, in this writer’s opinion, should appreciate the depth of its product offers applicable to this already enormous market segment.

It is worth repeating some earlier comments this writer articulated about the notion of an Internet of Things, namely the concept is neither new, nor especially formidable as one considers the capabilities consumers will likely have to safeguard computing processes running over an enormous number of smart devices all communicating over the same data protocols.

But Microsoft’s now obvious interest in branding itself as a leader in this data communications trend should, to no small extent, provide some reassurances. First, Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE, and the development methods it supports (Visual Basic, C, C++, Visual C++, etc) have long been used by ISVs supporting the ancestor of this new IoT — namely HMIs, and the families of devices communicating over one of the bus data communications protocols (Modbus, Profibus, Fieldbus, etc), so they already have very important hooks into this market. Second, Microsoft’s experience developing a secure data communications environment to assure enterprise business consumers of the security of cloud computing may apply to the products and solutions they bring to market for IoT consumers.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

4
Nov

Microsoft looks at the inevitability of big data

Jason Zander, a Corporate Vice President at Microsoft opened his segment of the Keynote presentation for Microsoft’s Tech Ed Europe 2014 with a compelling argument for the inevitability of big data. Zander presented some numbers indicating the global population of smart devices has now surpassed the entire human global population. The number of apps supporting these devices, and their users has also grown in geometric proportion. The result is truly big data — an enormous amount of information about each/every touchpoint for devices, users, and even data itself as they interact.

Zander’s rhetorical argument is yet one more articulation of one of the core planks of Microsoft’s 2014 communications brand — productivity. To sum up this theme, readers are asked to simply consider the impact of the “hundreds and hundreds of petabytes of data we already have” on the notion of what this writer refers to as the “dawn” of “information opacity” aka the Samuel Coleridge phenomenon (“Water, water everywhere, but nary a drop to drink”).

Zander points to cloud, and Microsoft’s Azure as a leading example of it, as the only method of powering all of the data produced by the global interaction of users and smart devices. It’s worth noting his mention of telemetry. There will be more to be said about this category of data, and its relation to the concept of an Internet of Things (IoT) throughout the remainder of the conference.

The presentation then shifts to another core plank of Microsoft’s 2014 communications brand — the slogan, first articulated by its CEO, Satya Nadella, and now re-articulated by each and every other spokesperson (including Zander) “Mobile First, Cloud First”. Zander echoes Nadella’s recent comments on the slogan, and pulls in the scalability plank of the market message. Mobile First, he stresses for his audience, requires ISVs like Microsoft to envision consumers in motion, implementing different devices, at different times, with the objective of accomplishing the same tasks or activities. The only way to satisfy this need for a uniform computing experience is to deliver the same quality across any/all device form factors. Nothing less will do.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

3
Nov

Microsoft publishes an enormous amount of content from TechEd Europe 2014

In yet another gesture towards app developers and their stakeholders, Microsoft is rapidly publishing a very large amount of video content from its recently concluded TechEd Europe 2014 event. All of the content can be found on the Tech Ed Europe 2014 web site. As of the date of this post, Saturday, November 1, 2014, just a few of the webcasts available for public viewing included:

  1. Keynote Presentation by Joseph Belfiore, and Jason Zander
  2. Empowering Enterprise Mobility, led by Andrew Conway who plays a senior product marketing role for Microsoft’s Windows Server / System Center Business
  3. Microsoft Azure for Enterprises: What and Why, led by David Chappell a Principal at Chappell & Associates
  4. Azure Pack Roadmap and Ecosystem, led by Maurizio Portolani, and Robert Reynolds
  5. Microsoft IoT Platform: Architecture Overview, led by Uli Homann

Each of the above 5 webcasts are worth some commentary over the next few posts to this blog. The second, “Empowering Enterprise Mobility” is of interest for information it may add as to how Microsoft has designed its entry into the market for Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) aka Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions. In this writer’s opinion enterprise business consumers are demonstrating a voracious appetite for EMM and/or MDM. The intensity of need makes sense; after all, with a majority of larger organizations supporting formal BYOD, BYOA and other policy structures to support personnel as they bring new devices, and systems into the internal computing realm. EMM and MDM, on paper, can provide central IT support organizations with the methods they need to permit this use while preserving control and making a best effort to safeguard company confidential information.

A lot has already been written about the fourth and the fifth webcasts. Azure Pack looks like the right set of components to transform Microsoft’s cloud, IaaS into something portable, the kind of solution Dell has brought to market in its recently announced “Cloud in a box” hardware device.

IoT is a subject of interest to this blog, so a presentation on Microsoft’s data communications architecture to support the billions of devices interacting under the IoT umbrella is a “must attend” event.

Readers should stay tuned.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved