Microsoft has announced a swathe of new software platforms and functions to accelerate internet of things development for its customers, including a new IoT software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, new industrial IoT capabilities for its existing Azure IoT platform-as-a-service, and added functionality for IoT devices.

The company’s new IoT SaaS offering, called ‘Microsoft IoT Central’, is built on the company’s Azure cloud and simplifies the development process, enabling its customers to start their IoT journeys sooner.

The software is designed to work with Microsoft’s existing IoT platform-as-a-service (PaaS), Azure IoT Suite.

According to Microsoft, IoT Central “has the potential to dramatically increase the speed at which manufacturers can innovate and bring new products to market, as well as lower the barriers to creating IoT solutions that generate new revenue opportunities and better experiences for customers.”

The company also announced ‘Connected Factory’ – a preconfigured solution for its Azure IoT Suite.

Scheduled to be announced at the Hannover Messe industrial show next week, the solution is designed to aid organisations towards Industrie 4.0, making it easy to connect on-premise OPC Unified Architecture and OPC Classic M2M devices to the Microsoft cloud.

Connected Factory also promises to enable factory floor device browsing and configuration from the cloud platform, and has partnered with a number of industry leaders to provide turnkey gateway solutions with Connected Factory built in, including Unified Automation, Softing and Hewlett Packard Enterprise

On the device front, Microsoft announced three new Azure IoT functions:

  • Microsoft Azure Time Series Insights preview – A fully managed analytics, storage, and visualisation service, to allow companies to interactively and instantly explore and analyse billions of events from their IoT solutions
  • Microsoft Azure Stream Analytics on edge devices preview – New functionality added to the existing Azure Stream Analytics service which extends the functionality down to the device level, reducing the dependence on always-on cloud connectivity
  • Microsoft Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning service – This service simplifies the device enrolment process for IoT devices already supported by Azure IoT Hub, and provides provisioning via a client application that can be preinstalled on devices running the Windows 10 IoT operating system

Along with these new cloud-based offerings, Microsoft has also bolstered its commitment to IoT device security, announcing that Azure IoT now supports the industry-wide security standards Device Identity Composition Engine (DICE) and Hardware Security Module (HSM).

Both standards enable hardware-level device identification, with DICE performing it at the silicon gate level, and HSM being used to provide advanced security functionality such as hardware-based device attestation and zero-touch provisioning.

In conjunction with this new standards support, Microsoft has also partenered with chipmakers Micron and STMicro to support various types of silicon leveraging HSM and DICE security technologies, and Spyrus to support HSM as part of SD and USB storage device security.