With Azure IOT Edge, Microsoft Looks for an Edge in the Cloud Wars

Edge computing is becoming the next battleground of the application platform space and Microsoft wants to lead the charge. during the recent Build conference, Microsoft announced the availability of Azure IOT Edge, a new service that delivers cloud capabilities to IOT devices. This release represents Microsoft’s first step in their new edge computing strategy.

Azure IOT Edge extends the capabilities of the Azure IOT Bundle platform to edge devices. the platforms brings versions of traditional Azure services as well as thirds party technologies to IOT devices. Additionally, Azure IOT Edge simplifies the integration with machine intelligence services such as Cognitive Service or Machine Learning for in-device applications.

Modules are at a core feature of Azure IOT Edge. Functionally, Modules enable atomic capabilities in IOT applications. Azure IOT Edge enables inter-module integration by leveraging declarative messaging passing techniques. IOT Edge Modules typically run in Docker containers and exchange messages using an in-device version of the Azure IOT Hub ( a module itself).

The current version of Azure IOT Edge includes a rich catalog of modules such as BLE (bluetooth low energy), IdentityMap( MAC encoding), Logger( instrumentation), Simulated Device( BLE-enabled device simulation) and many others. developers can implement their own modules using different programming languages such as NodeJS, C# or Java,

Stream analytics is one of the most exciting modules added to Azure IOT Edge. The module enables the collection of streams of data as well as the execution of SQL queries that aggregate and filter data streams directly in the device runtime. The module integrate with Azure Stream Analytics for more scalable, out-of-device stream analytic operations.

Edging AWS

Azure IOT Edge is Microsoft’s answer to AWS’ initial edge computing efforts with technologies such as Greengrass. Edge computing is one of the new trends that can help Azure close the gap with AWS in the cloud computing market. While AWS remains the undisputed leader in the space, Azure seems to be growing at a faster pace lately. In the last earning reports, Microsoft announced that Azure has grown an astonishing 90% year-over-year which was almost double of AWS’ growth. Furthermore, Azure already possesses the best hybrid cloud story in the market and edge computing can be a natural extension of those capabilities.

regardless of how the edge computing market evolves, it is fairly certain that we are going to see a large number of Azure and AWS services release version that operate on edge devices. Stream analytics( Azure Stream Analytics- Kinesis Analytics), lambda computing( Azure Functions- AWS Lambda), messaging( Azure Service Bus-AWS SQS), machine learning( Azure ML- AWS ML), document storage( Azure DocumentDB, AWS DynamoDB), deployment( Azure Container Service — AWS Container Service) are some of thhe key cloud services candidates to deliver edge computing capabilities in the near future.

Owning an Edge Computing Runtime

In addition to delivering edge computing services, PaaS incumbents such as Microsoft, Amazon or Alphabet are also trying to own new runtimes that can catalyze their ambitions in the edge computing space. Microsoft is clearly relying on versions of Windows that can run on edge devices. Alexa is Amazon’s candidate for a next generation edge computing device. Alphabet has a number of powerful options for edge computing runtimes including Android, Nest and Waymo’s self-driving car platform. One thing is certain, the edge computing battles are going to get interesting in the near future.

CEO of IntoTheBlock, Chief Scientist at Invector Labs, I write The Sequence Newsletter, Guest lecturer at Columbia University, Angel Investor, Author, Speaker.

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