The Microsoft Azure and AWS logos.
Image: Rebecca Olason/TechRepublic

Modern industries require industrial IoT solutions for better productivity. IIoT helps enterprises address critical business and manufacturing concerns like real-time analytics, sensor integration, optimum asset usage and supply chain visibility.

SEE: Hiring Kit: IoT developer (TechRepublic Premium)

Microsoft Azure and AWS are two leading IIoT service providers across the globe. They both offer IIoT platforms that help businesses collect, store and analyze IoT data for industrial, consumer and commercial purposes.

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An overview of Microsoft Azure

The Microsoft Azure logo.
Image: Micrsoft

The Azure IoT platform enables enterprises to develop, deploy, scale and manage IoT solutions compatible with modern industrial devices and infrastructures through their OPC Unified Architecture standards. Azure IIoT solutions offer services that can build and automate data analytics for IIoT assets.

The Azure Industry 4.0 solutions cut through different product lines such as Azure IoT Hub, Azure IoT Central, Azure IoT Edge and Azure Digital Twins.

All these IIoT offerings are designed to help businesses meet modern industrial demands, such as predictive maintenance, condition monitoring and product automation.

An overview of AWS IIoT

The AWS logo.
Image: AWS

The AWS IIoT platform offers enterprises a range of IIoT services for modern manufacturing. The AWS IoT platform spans about 12 major IIoT offerings, such as AWS IoT Core, AWS IoT Device Management, AWS, IoT Greengrass and AWS IoT ExpressLink.

These IIoT service lines help businesses to create IoT solutions with AI and ML integration, accelerate IoT innovations, secure IoT solutions both on edge and in the cloud, and scale their IoT products.

Feature comparison: Microsoft Azure vs AWS IIoT services

FeatureMicrosoft AzureAWS IIoT
IoT analyticsYesYes
Digital twinsYesYes
Relational databaseSQL databaseAmazon RDS
AI integrationYesYes
IIoT service linesNarrow offeringBroader offering

Head-to-head comparison: Microsoft Azure vs AWS IIoT products

Analytics

Data analytics is a critical part of IIoT, as there is a huge volume of data to analyze. Although both services can make a case for data analytics offerings, AWS takes things a bit further with its fully managed IoT analytics.

With AWS IIoT analytics, you can quickly gather data and start performing analytics. It’s fully integrated with AWS IoT Core and accepts data from any source, including Amazon Kinesis, S3 or third-party tools, using a BatchPutMessage API.

On the other hand, Azure’s Stream Analytics offers data analytics with SQL syntax, which is extensible with JavaScript and C# codes. This feature makes it easier to run complex analytics without learning to provision virtual machines or new processing frameworks.

Development and integration

Azure and AWS IIoT platforms are loaded with tools enabling enterprises to develop, monitor, configure and deploy their IoT solutions. However, AWS SDKs are broader and cover more applications and IoT devices. This feature is crucial for organizations that run a dedicated development team structure as it accelerates IoT development and integration.

On the other hand, Azure also offers much in terms of IoT development and integration but lacks the broadness that AWS offers in this category.

Edge capabilities

Both AWS and Azure offer IIoT services with edge capabilities, but who offers more flexibility? AWS offers FreeRTOS, Greengrass and IoT ExpressLink to help enterprises build and manage edge devices. These edge features offer a broader infrastructure for edge computing capabilities across use cases.

Although Azure IoT edge consists of edge runtime, certified IoT edge hardware, cloud interface and edge modules, it still lacks the flexibility of AWS. However, Azure offers free edge runtime, leveling things up to some extent.

Security provisions

Security is a critical component of any IIoT service provider. Both AWS and Azure offer secure and reliable IoT services. In addition, their IIoT security services offer risk-free exchange processes, two-way authentications, and TLS connections and encryption.

Azure relies on Azure Sphere, Azure Defender and the OPC Vault microservice within its Azure IoT core to secure and maintain industrial assets. On the other hand, the IIoT security architecture in AWS is offered through authorization, authentication, identity and access management, and data protection.

Scalability

AWS and Azure IIoT platforms are imbued with features that accelerate the scaling of IIoT applications. However, because AWS offers more IIoT features, it can allow enterprises to scale their projects more easily than Azure. With the recent integrations with Lambda and other services, it is more straightforward to scale your project for new devices.

Although Azure does not offer as many IIoT features as AWS, it still offers solutions that enable scalability. With Azure IoT Central, organizations are equipped with ready-made UX and API surfaces that allow them to manage and deliver IoT projects at scale.

Choosing between Microsoft Azure and AWS IIoT platforms

Microsoft Azure and AWS are great IIoT solution providers with impressive offerings in the IIoT market.

If you are looking for an IIoT solution that is sophisticated and comprehensive but still fits any project size, AWS platform for IIoT will be a better fit. If you are more inclined to go for a more user-friendly solution for your team, then you should consider Microsoft Azure.

You may also consider pricing before deciding which tool is best for you. Azure offers flexible and multiple pricing tiers where use cases determine prices, and the pricing tiers include Standard Tier 0, Standard Tier 1 and Standard Tier 2. AWS pricing is also flexible and offers a calculator that can help you determine the estimated price for the type of service you need.

For more on the theme of IIoT, read about the top five trends to watch, the top five careers to explore and the top five use cases.