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In the lead-up to Microsoft’s Build 2019 developer conference, the company announced a series of new IoT products and solutions for its Azure cloud computing platform. The new products could help the company deepen its services offerings and grow its share of the cloud market as it competes with Amazon’s AWS and Google.
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Here’s what it means: Microsoft is expanding its range of IoT products and services for its cloud platform to improve current users’ experience and attract new customers.
- The Azure SQL Database Edge enables Microsoft to provide users with better data analytics capabilities for remote devices. The edge database enables low-power devices to work with streaming or time-series data and run analytics locally, including graphing tools. The new edge capabilities mean that users don’t have to rely on sending data to the cloud, which might not be possible in low-connectivity remote environments.
- The IoT Plug and Play feature makes it easier for clients to connect IoT devices to Azure. IoT Plug and Play is a solution that eliminates the need to write specific code to connect IoT devices to the Azure cloud. This makes it easier to set up IoT devices and enables them to be deployed at a larger scale than was previously possible. IoT Plug and Play enables Microsoft to offer a wider suite of connected devices that its customers can connect to Azure.
- The Azure Blockchain Service bolsters Microsoft’s services for enterprise clients. The company’s fully managed blockchain service is meant to help enterprise clients to use blockchain to build services like smart contracts. For example, a smart contract could stipulate that a carrier needs to deliver goods to a specific destination by a certain time in order to be paid, which could be verified by an attached IoT sensor that sends data to the blockchain. With its own blockchain service, Microsoft can keep pace with AWS, which made its own blockchain solution generally available in April 2019.
The bigger picture: With its newly announced products, Microsoft is likely looking to capitalize on the success of its IoT cloud services and grow its presence in the overall cloud market.
Currently, Microsoft has a 23% market share of the IoT cloud market, but only a 17% share of the general cloud market. The discrepancy between Microsoft’s IoT cloud and general cloud market shares suggests that it has an opportunity to build on its existing IoT strength through an expanded portfolio of IoT services.
In fact, it appears Microsoft is betting on IoT offerings in its push to increase its share of the greater cloud market: In April 2018, the company announced it would invest $5 billion in IoT efforts over the next four years.
The latest round of IoT services and products that Microsoft has invested in can help distinguish its IoT cloud offering from the competition and close the gap between the company and Amazon, which controls 34% of the IoT cloud market and 32% of the general cloud market.
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