VIA is proud to be a launch partner for Microsoft IoT Plug and Play, and to be leading the first wave of certified products with six certified Edge AI devices. IoT Plug and Play solves one of the biggest challenges for enterprises, solution providers and anyone working to develop applications for the Internet of Things. It provides a simple, open language through which manufacturers can describe their IoT devices, letting you add them and all their functionality to cloud solutions without writing embedded code. Let’s explore why we need IoT Plug and Play, what it does, and why it’s great news for the IoT.
Curing the Headache for IoT System Integrators
Currently, IoT system integrators can pick from a huge range of devices, from simple sensors, motors and switches through to complete systems and advanced Edge AI. The list is diverse and almost endless, but while the IoT ecosystem benefits from this rich diversity, it also creates a headache when it comes to understanding and connecting thousands of different devices, many of which work in subtly different ways.
Clearly the IoT depends on standards – without them we’d have no hope of interconnecting billions of devices and getting them to exchange data. But as an evolving ecosystem, things are still fragmented. There are multiple and competing connectivity standards, and limited standardization between manufacturers, both in the way devices are identified and provisioned, and in the way they communicate.
As solution builders, we need to know what a device is, what it does, and how it sends and receives data. But up until now there’s been no clear standard to help us. Bringing data from IoT devices into cloud solutions often requires multiple skill sets, and the result can be a lot of time spent integrating devices in a bespoke and largely proprietary way.
It’s a similar challenge to the one faced by PC operating systems back in the mid-1990s. With scores of components and expansion cards creating an increasingly complex device environment, Microsoft introduced Plug and Play (PnP). This is a system of device detection and auto-configuration that ultimately solved the problem of identifying, enumerating and using diverse devices in Windows PCs.
New Challenge, Similar Solution
Given this history, it’s no surprise that Microsoft has rebooted the idea of Plug and Play for the Azure platform, creating an open modelling language that allows device manufacturers to describe their product capabilities. VIA has made significant investments that ensure that our products are compatible with the platform. For our customers, this ensures a streamlined and optimized deployment path, and it means that when you connect an IoT Plug and Play certified device from VIA to an Azure cloud solution, such as IoT Central, you can immediately start working with the device and all of its features.
We think this is a really exciting development. For those creating IoT solutions, it ends the tedious process of having to investigate the capabilities of multiple edge devices, and write code to help exchange data streams with the cloud. Instead, developers can simply browse the new Azure IoT Certified catalog, find and purchase the devices they need, and plug them straight into their solutions.
By simplifying the process, Microsoft IoT Plug and Play helps accelerate IoT prototyping, allowing enterprises to create and experiment with agile ideas, and to reduce the deployment time for advanced IoT solutions. It makes it easier for everyone to build solutions with less reliance on deep skills – and with less custom code there’s less risk of error, plus less need for extensive compatibility and QA testing before solutions are production-ready.
Gaining the Edge
At VIA, we believe that Microsoft IoT Plug and Play promises many further benefits for the IoT community. By simplifying configuration, developers can be more ambitious, for example, by including more edge devices in their solution. By giving developers more ready access to a device’s full feature set, it also makes it easier to build more sophisticated applications, or to make more efficient use of multi-role devices.
As we go forward, this opening up of devices’ full potential will be a key driver for more fully featured and powerful edge devices. For VIA achieving Microsoft IoT Plug and Play certification means that we can ensure advanced edge AI devices, like the ARTiGO A820 Enterprise IoT Gateway System1 or the AMOS-825 In-Vehicle Edge Computing System2, are compatible with any solution built using Azure.
It’s an exciting time for the community and IoT Plug and Play marks the beginning of a new period of accelerated development for the Internet of Things. If you’re developing the next generation of smart retail, smart city, enterprise or industrial IoT and automotive applications, you can be sure that VIA devices are the ideal way to accelerate your Microsoft IoT Plug and Play solution.