Microsoft is beefing up its Azure cloud IoT platform in bid to threaten AWS’s dominance

At IoT Solutions World Congress this week, Microsoft unveiled a bevy of solutions for its cloud-based Azure IoT platform, according to VentureBeat. This builds on Microsoft's ongoing improvements to the Azure IoT platform, with the company allocating $5 billion in April 2018 to develop features through 2022.

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Microsoft has particularly focused on building solutions to address prevalent barriers to enterprise IoT adoption: Enterprises wanting to use more IoT were dissuaded by technical challenges (38%), lack of budget/staff resources (29%), and lack of knowledge (29%), according to a Microsoft survey of global enterprise decision-makers.

Here's how a few of the new Azure IoT solutions could address those barriers and drive further enterprise IoT use:

  • Industry app templates. Microsoft added near-ready-made solutions for enterprises across the retail, energy, healthcare, and government segments, with 11 new industry app templates. These templates include dashboards, data simulation, and tutorials customized for prevalent industry-specific IoT uses. For instance, a retail app template is designed for in-store checkout analytics, while an energy template is designed for monitoring electric meters.
  • Weather Services integration. Microsoft announced a partnership with US weather service AccuWeather that will enable it to overlay weather data on location-based IoT applications. Microsoft also added the capability to project weather disruptions by syncing routing information and weather predictions. The new features will be particularly useful for supply chain IoT solutions, whose operations are subject to weather disruptions.
  • Data visualization features for Azure Time Series Insights. Microsoft added new features to its visualization software, including scatter plot API functionality and improved data query capabilities. The Azure Time Series Insights feature aims to reduce the complexity and technical talent barrier to gleaning insights from IoT data. And because the tool is cloud-based, the insights can be more easily disseminated throughout an organization.

Microsoft could chip away at Amazon Web Services's (AWS) general cloud market share by continuing to add features to Azure IoT. In 2019, Microsoft captured 23% of the IoT cloud market and 17% of the general cloud market globally, compared with AWS's respective 34% and 32% shares. But with its strategy of building out Azure IoT functionality, Microsoft is betting it can outmaneuver AWS in terms of the software services it can overlay onto cloud infrastructure.

This could then be parlayed into general cloud growth, as Microsoft could bundle general and IoT cloud services and sell enterprises on the deep integration between the two systems. By introducing hundreds of cloud-based features for IoT applications, Microsoft is also blurring the lines between general cloud and IoT cloud.

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