How Microsoft’s Open IIoT Approach Makes Manufacturers More Agile

This article is an excerpt from the Microsoft Industry Blogs. The content in its entirety can be found here.

Even before we introduced the Azure IoT Suite back in 2015, Microsoft was helping manufacturers realize the full business value of IoT. Backed by decades of experience in enterprise, we quickly became an innovator in industrial IoT (IIoT). Microsoft solutions have helped connect billions of different assets, process massive amounts of real-time data, and deploy AI to the edge. More recently, we became the first major cloud platform to offer end-to-end security using OPC UA—an accomplishment that has made us a recognized leader in IIoT platforms for manufacturing.

Our commitment to openness has been key to this success, helping us stand out in the IIoT landscape. Every aspect of our IIoT approach hinges on solutions that can be applied across different systems and data formats. Our focus on openness simplifies interoperability, allowing manufacturers to break free of the proprietary interfaces that have traditionally defined their industry and paving the way toward our customers’ digital transformation.

Using Open Standards to Increase Flexibility

Openness has been a foundational strategy at Microsoft for years. In 1994, for example, we partnered with the OPC Foundation, which developed the Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture (OPC UA). This standard was the first significant step to helping manufacturers easily compare and analyze diverse datasets, regardless of vendor. Years later, with the emergence of cloud and IoT technology, we pioneered the use of the OPC UA standard to promote interoperability for cloud communication.

Even early on we knew how important it would be for manufacturers to connect and communicate across disparate systems. That’s why we’ve built support for the OPC UA standard into our full spectrum of IIoT solutions. This frees manufacturers to choose the equipment and tools that best fit their needs, knowing those solutions will integrate with our stack.

Our flexibility even extends to OPC UA itself. Although we recommend following its standard, it is not a requirement. All our IIoT services are open source…

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