Innovation

Microsoft acquires Solair: Plans to own enterprise IoT

With the acquisition of Solair, Microsoft jumps into the lucrative and fast-growing Internet of Things market with both feet.

hero
Image: iStockphoto.com/vesmil

For years now, TechRepublic has been preparing you, and the enterprises where you work, for the era of the Internet of Things (IoT). A time when data is collected and analyzed from sensors and other devices attached to just about anything and everything. The IoT changes what enterprises know about logistics, maintenance, and customers in dramatic ways.

SEE: 10 ways big data, analytics, and sensors are helping behind the scenes

Using the power of big data analytics and the scale of the cloud, enterprise decision makers will have more actionable information than ever before and will be able to interact, react, and anticipate their business environments with uncanny accuracy. What determines success for your enterprise may not change, but what data you track to determine that success could change significantly.

According to a study published on Wikibon.org, the total revenues generated by the worldwide public cloud market will exceed $493 billion by the year 2026. This is why companies like Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and Google have been spending so much time and resources developing cloud infrastructure.

On May 3, 2016, to augment its IoT services, Microsoft announced the acquisition of Sloair.

What is Solair?

In a nutshell, Solair produces IoT solutions that help enterprises track their products, capture data to determine maintenance schedules, resupply requirements for consumables, meter for calculating fees, etc. The sensors become part of the product design and Solair works with enterprises during the integration process.

Image A
Solair, and the technologies it brings to the table, add a working and proven set of IoT products and software to Microsoft's growing cloud services business. The Solair IoT infrastructure runs on the Microsoft Azure platform so the fit is about as perfect as it can get.

IoT example

One of the early examples of an IoT application, commonly used by mass media to sell the general public on the merits of connected devices, was the idea that your refrigerator would notice that you are low on milk and then order more for you. I never bought into this idea—there are too many variables in this equation for your appliances to be smart enough to know when to purchase milk or anything else. Consumers would never go for it.

However, the idea that your refrigerator could send data to the manufacturer that its compressor was running hot or that the fan in the freezer was using more power than it should makes much more sense. That information could save consumers time, aggravation, and money. It sounds like a good idea to me—and this is where Solair excels.

SEE: Internet of Things: The Security Challenge (ZDNet special feature)

Shifting terrain

The Solair acquisition makes a lot of sense for Microsoft because while the company's cloud services business is strong and growing, it is not growing as rapidly as it could be. The fastest and most lucrative market, now and for the foreseeable future, is in the Internet of Things. This is where Microsoft and the other major players in the cloud services business have to concentrate their resources.

As enterprises begin to realize the benefits of gathering data from a network of connected devices, they will need to add more and more cloud-based capacity to their systems. And as IoT becomes standard practice, the sheer amount of data that enterprises will be collecting could overwhelm the unprepared.

The market for big data solutions, cloud networks, and IoT devices is where the largest and most successful companies will be operating for the next 20 years, and Microsoft plans to be in the mix. The acquisition of Solair goes a long way toward meeting those goals.

Also read...

Your thoughts

Does your enterprise understand why and how the Internet of Things is going to change business? Do you? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox