IoT 5 mins read

Navigating Your IoT Strategy Amid Microsoft IoT Central Updates

Initial alarm over Microsoft’s IoT Central platform’s fate underscores the necessity for ongoing vigilance and multi-cloud strategies in the rapidly evolving IoT landscape.

Bernd Gross Bernd Gross

Recently, Microsoft caused a stir by seemingly announcing the imminent deprecation of its IoT Central platform. This sparked concern when an alarming message on the Azure console stated that new IoT Central applications could not be created after April 2024. 

This announcement sent shockwaves through the IoT community, casting doubts on Microsoft’s long-term commitment. However, Microsoft has since clarified that this information was erroneous and shared by mistake. The company stressed that they do not communicate product retirements through system messages and adhere to a standard 3-year discontinuation notice process for any Azure service. 

Furthermore, Microsoft reiterated the importance of IoT within its portfolio despite the confusion caused. This offered some relief to existing IoT Central customers who rely on the platform. 

Nevertheless, some skeptics remain, given the specificity of the initial message. While Microsoft aims to allay fears, the incident underscores lingering uncertainty over their IoT strategic vision. What is the long-term plan for IoT Central amidst shifting priorities? How does it align with the increased focus on AI and machine learning? And how will it evolve to support customer needs? Is it future proof or will Microsoft only maintain its status quo? 

If Microsoft ultimately decides to deprecate IoT Central, it would not be entirely surprising.  

Other cloud vendors like Google and IBM have already discontinued their platforms . Why? Early multi-trillion-dollar IoT market predictions were likely overhyped, and maintaining an industrial IoT platform requires substantial domain expertise — an area where generalist Hyperscalers might lack compared to focused IoT players.  As the market matures, having a generic IoT toolkit is no longer sufficient. Specialization and clear product-market fit are now essential for success. With slower-than-expected IoT Services growth for the Hyperscalers , it’s understandable that Cloud vendors are redirecting resources. After all, if the IoT cloud services are no longer projected to drive the hypergrowth that cloud vendors target, it becomes harder for them to continue justifying heavy ongoing investment in the specific IoT cloud services like IoT Central or even IoT Hub. 

All this news doesn’t bode well for companies that pursued extensive custom development on top of these proprietary platforms as they might face significant migration costs and business disruption if they must switch. 

This observation underscores the necessity for companies to develop multi-cloud and multi-edge strategies to mitigate vendor dependencies and risk. For organizations planning their IoT journeys, incorporating redundancies across platforms and monitoring provider roadmaps is key. Rather than placing all bets on a single cloud provider, purpose-built solutions across providers can mitigate disruption risks. 

Some large companies took this lesson to heart and have already embraced this approach, running workloads across AWS, Azure, and their own on-prem infrastructure, but this comes with substantial costs. Attempting to build full-stack IoT capabilities in-house inevitably leads to distraction, dilution of core competencies, strained partnerships, and lagging adoption. And let’s be honest, only the largest of companies can afford these kinds of investments in time and expertise.  

So is there no hope for innovating in the area of IoT for enterprises regardless of their size? I think there is. Where a few years ago many early IoT adopters had to invest substantial development resources in a pure build strategy, now there are alternatives. One of them is pursuing a buy-and-build approach. A buy AND build approach often surpasses a pure build strategy when it comes to enterprise IoT.  

 A buy and build approach to IoT development offers enterprises the best of both worlds by combining external IoT products with internal development efforts. This strategy allows companies to focus their resources on developing differentiating capabilities that set them apart, rather than wasting time and effort reinventing the wheel. By purchasing existing IoT products that can be extended and customized, enterprises can accelerate their time to market, which is crucial in the fast-paced IoT industry. Furthermore, this approach ensures optimized investments, as the heavy lifting required for non-functional capabilities, such as multi-cloud support, security, global scalability, high availability, global operations, and support, can be shared across a wide customer base. The buy and build method strikes the perfect balance between speed, innovation, and customization, enabling enterprises to stay competitive in the rapidly evolving IoT landscape. 

The key is to find the right products and partners that provide out-of-the-box cloud freedom and have the organizational expertise to efficiently and effectively run them on any cloud globally, while also enabling the blending and extending of capabilities.  

It is my sincere belief that a mix of strategic buying AND building, combining internal teams with purpose-built partner solutions, is emerging as the new enterprise IoT . 

This can be best achieved through a “trust but verify” approach, paired with proactive strategy realignment. This will help you navigate IoT’s ongoing evolution.  Here are a number of options to help you navigate. If you are looking to preserve your current investment in Azure and want to innovate without permanently committing to a specific vendor this whitepaper might be the place to start: “Effective IoT solutions with Software AG and Microsoft.”  

 If you are looking for a framework to select an IoT Platform you can visit this buyers guide. Alternatively, if you are looking to replace your existing platform this research from Machnation might come in handy.   

To conclude, even as Microsoft clarifies confusing messages, the incident serves as a reminder: perpetual platform evolution is essential to advance your IoT solutions securely. Just maintaining a Keep-The-Lights-On approach from your strategic IoT platform partner is simply not enough.

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