Microsoft bolts on new security features for Azure IoT

Microsoft bolts on new security features for Azure IoT

Microsoft bolts on new security features for Azure IoT
Microsoft bolts on new security features for Azure IoT

Sam George, head of Microsoft’s Azure IoT, announced a raft of new features for the cloud-based platform at the IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona today.

BARCELONA, SPAIN – George detailed a number of interesting Internet of Things (IoT) case studies at the show, before closing by detailing the new bolt-on technologies for Azure IoT.

New tools for Azure IoT

The Redmond software giant announced the new technologies at the show, and they are as follows:

Security Program for Azure IoT

“The program provides our customers with independently validated assessments from expert security auditors who develop, evaluate, and implement the most rigorous security models for the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite,” said George, in a blog post published after his talk.

“Auditors participating in the program have the expertise to conduct end-to-end security audits, ensuring that each customer’s specific security measures are both sufficient and correctly applied.” 

“It’s a matchmaking service, we have a curated list, and [the third-party] can inspect the IoT application, find exploits, and suggest recommendations so you know before the hackers find out,” said George at the conference.

Azure IoT Hub Device Management

George said that, as of next month, every IoT Hub (the cloud platform for connecting devices to cloud) will be updated with new device management capabilities.

This, says George, will enable IoT admins to organize, query, configure, and update the software and firmware between millions of geographically dispersed and cross-platform IoT devices. IoT Hub Device Management was introduced earlier this year.

IoT Hub Routing

New message routing capabilities are now available on Azure IoT Hub, which make it simple to route device messages sent to Azure IoT Hub to specific endpoints in your IoT solution. George compared this routing to email rules – pushing different messages into different folders. The new feature will be available in early winter.

Azure IoT gateway SDK

The Azure IoT Gateway SDK is an open-source platform for gateways, which allows developers to easily build and deploy gateway intelligence tailored to their specific scenario.

The Azure IoT Gateway SDK is an open source project and will be available to all Azure IoT customers in November.

Azure IoT Device Catalog

George said in Barcelona that there are 175 devices compatible with Azure, and from 100 different partners, but this can be a question of ‘How do I find the right one?’. He explained that the new Azure Iota Certified device catalog will helps customers search, filter and ultimately choose the best partner devices for their IoT solution.

Security now a big driver

George was keen to stress the importance of security and risk management with IoT deployments, and he said that both are raised as concerns by customers. “What we hear customers and partners is how do I know, how do I know before hackers know, whether my IoT app is secure? It’s a very common problem.”

Device management was also raised, with other experts from Bosch, Schneider Electric and HCL Technologies highlighting the difficulty of applying software updates in a physical world where assets can stay the same for a number of years.

“You cannot secure what you cannot update. The days of not updating the device are behind us – that’s a recipe for disaster,” added George.

HoloLens meets business as IoT gets serious on ROI

George said that HoloLens – the firm’s mixed reality (VR and AR) headset – is “growing in business”, although sadly he didn’t reveal any specific examples.

He did, however, outline just how IoT, and in this case the Azure IoT platform, is delivering quick ROI for Microsoft’s clients.

  • George said that Rolls Royce is saving $250,000 per plane by reducing fuel usage by just 1 percent
  • Rockwell Automation is saving $300,000 a day in maintenance costs, by reducing troubleshooting time on equipment
  • ThyssenKrupp – which is using Hololens, according to Microsoft’s website – is using IoT to connect its elevators, reduce costs and improve customer value
  • Johnson Control chillers now restart 9x faster than before, thanks to Azure IoT

Yet the importance of partnerships was stressed too. He referenced Microsoft’s work with Cognizant (for customer experience), Fujitsu (for sales, service and reducing costs), Copa Data (for end-to-end IoT in public sector) as well as eBecs Limited and Mesh Systems.

“The IoT is not a winner-takes-all market. IoT is about partnerships and ecosystem, it affects the whole world,” he said, adding Microsoft now has 300 partners across 60 countries.