Microsoft has made Azure IoT Edge publicly available around the world with several updates intended to bolster security and device management, as well as help businesses act on the data the cloud-based service collects.
Azure IoT Edge was developed to help businesses manage and leverage data by running Azure services, artificial intelligence (AI), and custom logic on cross-platform Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Microsoft first announced it about a year ago, and it was made available for preview in November. Now it's exiting preview mode with improvements to make it enterprise-ready, Microsoft reports.
The announcement fits in with Microsoft's growing focus on intelligence, cloud, and IoT security. Earlier this year the company demoed Azure Sphere, a new technology designed to improve IoT security with a three-part system: certified microcontrollers, an Azure Sphere OS with new security features and custom Linux kernel, and Azure Sphere security service.
"IoT continues to get a lot of attention from a variety of industries, which creates a lot of opportunity for software providers to incorporate IoT management and use in their solution," says Michael Fauscette, chief research officer for G2 Crowd.
Azure IoT Edge security updates include deeper integration with Device Provisioning Service so admins can provision devices in the field without operator intervention. The Azure IoT Edge security manager acts as "the focal point for security hardening" on connected devices and gives OEMs a chance to harden devices based on their preferred Hardware Secure Modules (HSM).
Automatic device management (ADM), another security addition to Azure IoT Edge, enables scaled deployment of IoT Edge modules to a collection of devices based on each product's metadata. When a machine with the appropriate metadata joins a group, ADM implements the correct modules so the device is properly configured.
"With these additions, a company using the Azure IoT Hub or third-party solution can develop, deploy, and manage an end-to-end IoT solution on the Azure IoT platform," Fauscette adds.
This update is another example of where Microsoft sees the future of enterprise IoT headed. Azure IoT Edge is now open-source and available on GitHub, so developers have more control over modifying runtime and debugging problems. It supports the Moby container management system, which is the same platform Docker was built on, writes Sam George, Azure IoT partner director. Microsoft is also expanding its Azure Certified for IoT program to certify device management, security, and other capabilities of IoT devices.
"As we evolve toward a world of ubiquitous computing, the design of the IoT solution spanning hardware, edge, and cloud must be consistent and secure to drive real impact," George says.
Azure IoT Edge requires three parts for deployment: Azure IoT Edge Runtime, Azure IoT Hub, and edge modules. Runtime is free and will be available as open source code, but companies will need an Azure IoT Hub for device management and deployment if they don't have one.
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