Although IT experts and the tech press have been touting the era of the Internet of Things (IoT) for over a decade now, it has only been during the past few years where the practical benefits of IoT for enterprise businesses have started coming to fruition. Smart devices, intelligent clouds, and edge computing sensors are all commonplace technologies deployed in businesses and organizations all over the world. IoT is just part of the enterprise technological landscape.
One of the more important aspects of IoT—and particularly important in a business environment marked by ever-increasing mobility—is location awareness. Enterprises need to not only know what data their smart devices are collecting but also where they are collecting it. This is one of the reasons Microsoft announced a new Azure service at the AutoMobility LA conference in November 2017.
The public preview of Azure Location Based Services is available now and constitutes Microsoft's continuing commitment to brand Azure as the de facto cloud platform for enterprise development of IoT applications.
SEE: Cloud platform spotlight: The top three contenders (Tech Pro Research)
Location, location, location
With Azure Location Based Services, Microsoft is maneuvering Azure into position as the standard development platform for what it has dubbed the "Location of Things." Through the new service, developers can build mobility, asset tracking, and other geospatial applications that provide useful insights through one dashboard.
With mobility and the ability to track assets becoming more important to enterprises as they look for ways to save fuel costs and power consumption, the development of location aware applications requires an intelligent platform. Azure Location Based Services provides frameworks for APIs, maps, geocoding, traffic monitoring, and routing computations that can make application development quicker and more efficient.
The first official Microsoft partner on the Azure Location Based Services platform is mapmaker TomTom, which is using Microsoft's Azure API as a basis for its own mapping API that relies on community input for accuracy and timeliness. With the help of Azure Location Based Services, TomTom plans to play a major role in the development of smart cities and smart vehicles with its mapping platform.
SEE: Special report: Cybersecurity in an IoT and mobile world (free ZDNet/TechRepublic PDF)
IoT is no longer an abstract promise of technology to come. It is a practical, well-established standard operating procedure deployed and in use every day by enterprises the world over. The power and benefits of IoT are saving enterprises money and providing insights into data patterns that are driving business growth in ways we are only beginning to fathom.
Of course, to take advantage of these IoT benefits, enterprises must develop the right applications. From Microsoft's perspective, the best platforms for building IoT applications are its Azure services and products. Microsoft's preview of Azure Location Based Services is just its latest intelligent cloud offering.
Like the rest of the information technology industry, Microsoft knows that the next battle for market dominance will be fought over cloud-based application development platforms that serve enterprise-ready IoT, big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning infrastructure. Enterprise information technology has moved to the edge of the cloud and developers need tools and frameworks to translate what happens on the edge into something useful.
Location awareness is an important component of those development tools and Azure Location Based Services is Microsoft's solution to the problem.
- How to build security into your company's IoT plan (TechRepublic)
- Enterprise IoT calculator: TCO and ROI (Tech Pro Research)
- Microsoft streamlines big data analytics with new Azure services (TechRepublic)
- How to become an IoT developer: 6 tips (TechRepublic)
- IoT devices are an enterprise security time bomb (ZDNet)
Are your enterprise IoT devices mobile? Are they location aware? Should they be? Share your thoughts and opinions with your peers at TechRepublic in the discussion thread below.
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.