This is a short blog to give you a high-level overview on a product called Azure IoT Central. I saw this fairly new Azure product (GA Sept 2018) in use for the first time at a large manufacturing company who was using it at their manufacturing facility (see Grupo Bimbo takes a bite out of production costs with Azure IoT throughout factories). They have thousands of sensors that are collecting data for all the machines used in producing their products. In short, think of it as an “Application Platform as a Service (aPaas)” for quickly building IoT solutions. It’s boxing up IoT hub, Device Provisioning Service (DPS), Stream Analytics, Data Explorer, SQL Database, Time Series Intelligence and Cosmos DB to make it easy to quickly build a solution and get value out of the IoT data. To get an idea of the what this solution would look like, check out the IoT Central sample for calculating Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of industrial equipment.
IoT Central starts with connecting and monitoring IoT data, and then moving on to taking that information to analyze via reports and ML models, then improving physical processes, and then transforming operations and business models.
Azure IoT Central has a bunch of base capabilities (connectivity, provisioning, device management, dashboarding, etc) leveraging all those products. The data ingested into the platform is kept for 30 days. If you need to use the data beyond the built-in capabilities or to keep it longer, you can leverage “continuous data export” to stream data out to external sources like event hub, data lake, Azure Data Explorer (ADX), etc
At a high level, this is what the architecture of IoT Central looks like:
The out-of-the box website that is created for you looks like this:
A brief discussion of each menu item:
Devices lets you manage all your devices.
Device groups lets you view and create collections of devices specified by a query. Device groups are used through the application to perform bulk operations.
Device templates lets you create and manage the characteristics of devices that connect to your application.
Data explorer exposes rich capabilities to analyze historical trends and correlate various telemetries from your devices.
Dashboards displays all application and personal dashboards.
Jobs lets you manage your devices at scale by running bulk operations.
Rules lets you create and edit rules to monitor your devices. Rules are evaluated based on device data and trigger customizable actions.
Data export lets you configure a continuous export to external services such as storage and queues.
Permissions lets you manage an organization’s users, devices and data.
Application lets you manage your application’s settings, billing, users, and roles.
Customization lets you customize your application appearance.
When you begin your IoT journey, start with Azure IoT Central. It is the fastest and easiest way to get started using Azure IoT. However, if you require a high level of customization, you can move from IoT Central and go lower in the stack with the Azure IoT platform as a service (PaaS) services. Use the IoT Central migrator tool to migrate devices seamlessly from IoT Central to a custom PaaS solution that uses the Device Provisioning Service (DPS) and IoT Hub service. See How do I move between aPaaS and PaaS solutions?
The IoT Central REST API lets you develop client applications that integrate with IoT Central applications. Use the REST API to work with resources in your IoT Central application such as device templates, devices, jobs, users, and roles.
The IoT Central homepage page is the place to learn more about the latest news and features available on IoT Central, create new applications, and see and launch your existing applications.
Also check out the upcoming IoT Central Summit on April 7th as it has all the very latest messaging and demos. Registration is open to the public at https://aka.ms/azureiotcentralsummitregistration.