Secure and easy IoT: Microsoft pushes frontier with Azure
Microsoft discussed numerous upgrades to its...
Microsoft is fully on-board the IoT train, as its announcements at the IoT Solutions World Congress prove.
Microsoft discussed numerous upgrades to its Azure IoT Central platform, which is intended for the use of enterprises as they connect together IoT-enabled devices. These include templates for frequent use-cases, plug and play support and the inclusion of an API to build features on top of IoT Central.
The initiative is part of a previously announced $5bn investment in IoT from the company, that has seen it launch over 100 services and features in Azure IoT central. Particular areas of focus have been in security, scalability and ease-of-use.
“At Microsoft, we are committed to building a trusted, easy-to-use platform that allows our customers and partners to build seamless, smart, secure solutions regardless of where they are in the IoT journey,” said Sam George, CVP of Azure IoT at Microsoft in a press release. “That’s why we are investing $5B in IoT and intelligent edge — technology that is accelerating ubiquitous computing and bringing unparalleled opportunity across industries.”
Quoting figures from the International Data Corporation (IDC), Microsoft suggested that 41.6bn devices will be internet connected by 2025. On the enterprise side of the equation, by 2021, 94% of businesses are predicted to be IoT connected.
Carrie MacGillivray, group vice president, IoT, 5G and Mobility at IDC, said in the abstract: "As the market continues to mature, IoT increasingly becomes the fabric enabling the exchange of information from ‘things’, people, and processes. Data becomes the common denominator — as it is captured, processed, and used from the nearest and farthest edges of the network to create value for industries, governments, and individuals' lives. Understanding the amount of data created from the myriad of connected devices allows organizations and vendors to build solutions that can scale in this accelerating data-driven IoT market."
Future-tech and IXAfrica: Full Life Cycle Expertise
Future-tech is unique among data centre consultancies for a number of reasons. Not only does the Reading-based firm have high levels of expertise in markets ranging from Helsinki to Johannesburg, but Future-tech offers services across the complete life cycle of a facility.
“We are involved with projects from the initiation to completion,” explains James Wilman, Future-tech’s CEO. “We go from initiation phase - which could mean the site selection process or technical due diligence for a merger or acquisition - all the way through establishing the brief, the various design stages, construction oversight, commissioning, operation, end of life cycle replenishment, and can start right back at the beginning with refurbishment.”
While some factors, like the facility requirements for major tenants, remain the same no matter where you are, Wilman explains that “it's the environmental conditions, construction methodologies, supply chain, and skill sets available in different locations that vary, and that makes this a very interesting job.”
Future-tech was selected by IXAfrica as the life cycle design strategic partner for its hyperscale campus project in Nairobi, Kenya. Wilman explains that, over the past year, Future-tech has been leveraging its strong local knowledge, working closely with Kenyan architects and engineers, and collaborating with both Guy Wilner and Clement Martineau, to help IXAfrica successfully deliver Kenya’s largest hyperscale data centre.
“Future-tech did its first project on the African continent in 2012 in Kenya. I've been involved in the data centre space there for a long time, and have known Guy for a number of years through projects and interaction in Europe,” says Wilman. “As the IXAfrica project came into being, Guy and I spoke about it as he knew that we were already quite familiar with the area. We assisted out with the initial planning and project design, and the relationship really grew from there.”
Wilman adds that the experience helping Future-tech support the IXAfrica project has been hard-won. “It's been a steep learning curve, figuring out how to work in Africa. Some of our earlier projects were quite challenging, but we're fortunate to be at a point now where working throughout the region feels really comfortable,” he explains. “One of the things about Nairobi - which we found out when we were working on our first project in the city back in 2012 - is that, because it's about 1,200 metres above sea level, the altitude actually de-rates the onsite equipment. Having your equipment perform less well because of the altitude can massively impact the whole facility.” Understanding the factors that define a local environment can be the difference between success and disaster for a data centre, and Future-tech’s extensive experience in Kenya is a key supporting factor for IXAfrica’s success in Nairobi.
Wilman has also developed a strong collaborative relationship with Guy and Clement. “We've got over a gigawatt of design projects going through our office at the moment with different clients, which means that we're always learning new things. What is refreshing about working with Guy and Clement is that when we bring them a new idea, they listen to us,” says Wilman. “We've had a good run in Nairobi with IXAfrica built off of a long relationship, and I hope we get to continue working with them on their future projects.”