Microsoft is playing up the “intelligent edge” piece of its “intelligent cloud/intelligent edge” strategy at its Ignite IT pro conference this week with a number of IoT announcements. Two of the biggest are public previews of a new Azure Digital Twins service, along with its Azure Sphere secure-edge offering.
Azure Digital Twins enables customers and partners to create digital models of any physical environment, down to the people, places, things, relationships and processes that connect them. Via Azure Digital Twins, users can query data in the context of a space, not just separate sensors. This service will be part of the Azure IoT platform and launches in public preview on October 15.
The concept of digital twins has been adopted widely in manufacturing, especially for building energy-efficient, predictively-maintained spaces. Beyond factories and warehouses, the technology can be used in offices, schools, hospitals, parking lots, electrical grids and more.
Once a user creates a digital model of a physical environment, Azure Digital Twins will use Azure IoT Hub to connect the IoT devices and sensors and to keep the model up-to-date with the physical world, according to Microsoft. The service makes use of a spatial intelligence graph for storing maps, documents, manuals, pictures and blob storage data. Azure Digital Twins also can connect instances and models to other Azure services like Analytics, AI, Storage, Maps, Dynamics 365 and Office 365.
In addition, as of today, September 24, Microsoft is making generally available its Microsoft IoT Central service. Microsoft IoT Central is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering for connecting physical devices to back-end services, such as field service, customer engagement, predictive maintenance, asset utilization, energy management, and productivity services. It allows users to gain insights into devices via analytics services and make proactive decisions about those IoT devices.