Microsoft has outlined plans to make a substantial investment in IoT technology, setting aside $ 5 billion to grow its partner ecosystem, develop a more intelligent edge environment, and build on existing products and services.
In a move similar to Dell’s in New York last October, Microsoft will be revamping its IoT strategy over the next four years. Although the software giant has been invested in the space for years, booming adoption and exponential growth – long predicted by analysts – means that, in its own words, Microsoft is “just getting started.”
In a company blog post outlining the move, Julia White, CVP of Microsoft Azure, set out how fresh investment and R&D will make Microsoft ideally positioned to work with customers of all sizes and industries. “Our goal is to give every customer the ability to transform their businesses, and the world at large, with connected solutions,” she wrote.
Investing at the edge
The $ 5 billion investment will be spread across IoT security, building tools and services for the IoT and the edge computing environment, and in continued growth within Microsoft’s partner ecosystem.
“Today, we’re planning to dedicate even more resources to research and innovation in IoT and what is ultimately evolving to be the new intelligent edge,” wrote White.
“With our IoT platform spanning cloud, OS, and devices, we are uniquely positioned to simplify the IoT journey, so any customer – regardless of size, technical expertise, budget, industry, or other factors – can create trusted, connected solutions that improve business and customer experiences, as well as the daily lives of people all over the world.”
Developing a partner ecosystem
Like Dell, Microsoft acknowledges the importance of a partner ecosystem in delivering products and support to clients with differing needs.
“We’re also getting a look into how both customers and partners overcome the specific challenges of building an IoT solution that harnesses massive amounts of data. Whether they’re building products that transform the home, office, or factory floor, one thing remains clear: IoT is a collaborative, multi-disciplinary effort that spans cloud development, machine learning, AI, security, and privacy.”
Microsoft’s Azure IoT suite allows companies to develop their own use cases and experiment with connected technologies. The platform was bolstered by the launch of Azure IoT Edge last year.
Microsoft’s partner network already includes technology specialists Cisco and Hitachi and management consultants PwC and EY. It’s likely that the company’s VC arm, Microsoft Ventures, will also make further investments in the IoT space as part of the new strategy – a further echo of Dell’s recent moves.
“Today’s announcement is big – for us and for the future of IoT and the intelligent edge,” concluded White. “It positions us to support customers as they develop new and increasingly sophisticated IoT solutions, which few could have imagined just a few years ago. We can’t wait to see what comes from our customers and partners next, and we’ll have more to share throughout the year.”
Internet of Business says
When Dell EMC launched its own IoT strategy last October in New York, it stressed a number of things: the critical role of the intelligent edge and the distributed core, the boom in connected-device uptake, and the need for investment in both the partner landscape and innovative startups. Less than six months later, Microsoft has announced a similar move – but with five times greater investment.
Alongside the growth of AI – which Microsoft, Google, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, and Apple are all pouring resources into – we can see that IoT systems are moving into the core to the new enterprise computing landscape, on both the software and hardware side of the industry.