IoT World: Microsoft's Azure IoT Head Stresses The Importance of Building A Rich IoT Channel Ecosystem
Companies need to build a rich channel ecosystem as part of their overall Internet of Things strategy, stressed Microsoft's Director of Azure IoT, Sam George, on Tuesday. "IoT isn't a technology revolution, it's a business revolution powered by technology," said George, speaking at IoT World in Santa Clara, California. "We've been working to build up a rich ecosystem, from system integrators to ISV [independent software vendors] to the people producing hardware and connectivity options." Partners are critical for implementing IoT solutions because they aren't entirely focused on technology, but also understand the vertical market requirements and business needs of their customers, said George. On the client side, this understanding of business requirements – and what outcomes customers want to see – is a bigger part of IoT solutions than the technology itself, he said. "Companies don’t wake up and decide they want to connect their… things for fun," he said. "They have a business outcome they want to achieve. IoT has benefits but also requirements, and our job is to take care of those requirements so partners can reap the benefits." Customers face an array of challenges while implementing Internet of Things solutions, including difficulties maintaining cohesive security, facing time consuming processes to get started, and breaking down IoT technology that is incompatible with existing infrastructure. Microsoft is trying to help its channel through simplifying IoT solutions – through making it easier to build secure and stable solutions from the device to cloud level, making it easier to provision devices at scale, and making it easier for customers to find insights from their IoT devices, said George. The company last week unveiled IoT Central, a new offering that is a set of fully managed SaaS for IoT, helping customers easily connect compatible devices without cloud solution expertise. George said that partners can also take advantage of Microsoft's new Azure IoT Edge service, which was unveiled last week. The Redmond, Wash.-based company said this service will help enable developers to move their computing needs to Windows and Linux devices – and utilize Microsoft's array of services, including Azure Machine Learning, Stream Analytics, and the Azure IoT Hub. Looking forward, George said that solutions at the edge will be the next biggest opportunity for channel partners. "IoT is transforming virtually every industry on the planet," he said. "As IoT evolves into edge and AI, things will really get going."