Microsoft: Will the dream team Satya Nadella and Bill Gates transform Microsoft in an IOT innovator ?

I’ve never talked in person with the new CEO of Microsoft Mr Satya Nadella. I saw him at the annual event for Microsoft MGX 2011 in Denver. It wasn´t one of the most enthusiastic speakers, but I recognize that if transmitted loyalty, knowledge and commitment to the company, something that perhaps was not as evident in other speakers.

There is not this blog site a place to discuss whether Microsoft was wrong to appoint CEO or it was necessary the entire film that have mounted to elect a new CEO when it seems that everyone knew that Satya was the ideal candidate from the start.

The market has not received him euphorically. His task is as daunting as the 12 labors of Hercules. We’ll see if Satya, without losing the essence Microsoft, but giving a much more innovative and visionary air, get love wolves of Wall Street in a couple of quarters. Go ahead, my desire him to succeed and make Microsoft a company to fall in love with new clients, partners and employees.

Returning to the question of whether to enter into the plans of Satya convert Microsoft in disruptor for M2M and IoT, I will describe what the current basis is and it would take in my opinion to build the largest ecosystem of IoT / M2M possible.

Microsoft in IoT today

Bing

If you search Google” Microsoft internet of things” the first entry out of 523.000.000 results is : http://www.microsoft.com/windowsembedded/en-us/intelligent-systems.aspx and using Bing the first entry is: http://www.cio-today.com/story.xhtml?story_id=88564 out of 18.200.000 results.  No more explanation is needed, numbers sing.

In Brian Proffitt´s “Microsoft Sees Its Next Big Thing In The Internet Of Things” article, the company’s news announced  that it is opening up its Bing search engine to developers is a major clue that Microsoft thinks it’s onto something big. In short, Microsoft is staking out a major claim on the nascent Internet of Things, the term for an interconnected web of devices that will bring much more data and device control to users.

Recommendation:  I always see Bing as key platform to integrate Microsoft and partners business and consumer applications. If MSFT is able of converting Bing as the reference platform for the search of devices, machines, things everywhere and every cloud then they will take an advantage over Google or a new Google that is probably creating such a platform now.

Windows Embedded and  .Net  Micro Framework

Under the name of Intelligent Systems, Microsoft offer Windows Embedded products that Gartner rate as Positive. Microsoft is focused in retail, hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, and automotive industries.  Microsoft rely on strong partnerships to drive innovation into the device market.

The .Net Micro Framework makes embedded development easy for .Net developers. Coupled with Windows Azure, developing a scalable Internet of Things application is much easier.

Recommendation: Microsoft is loved in some industries and hated in other industries. I worked with many developers that refuse to use MSFT technology in real time or mission criticals applications, but others are enthusiastic about MSFT development tools.  In order to succeed my suggestion is that MSFT work with key partners for Windows Embedded (they have a list of 879 partners) to extends the power of Windows and Microsoft technologies to edge devices and build the industry solutions that the market need. Simplify the IoT value chain is key to make the life easier to enterprises and consumers.

Windows Azure

There are a couple of articles written by Clemens Vasters (the principal technical lead on the Windows Azure Service Bus team) and  published in MSDN  that describe how to use Windows Azure Service Bus for … Things!.

For those of you who want to know more about implementing the Internet of Things with Windows Azure, there is a session Teched New Zealand 2013 that investigate some of the techniques you can use to connect the smallest of devices to the biggest of clouds

Deploy IoT applications in the Cloud is the best way to get benefits of elastic scale and pay-as-you go to manage device connections and to perform rich analytics over device data quickly. Windows Azure must compete not only with AWS but with other hundreds of private and public cloud vendors.

Recommendation: In the IoT / M2M world, many old and new companies (device vendors, Software vendors, Telcos, Manufacturing, …) are offering Cloud Based M2M/IOT Application or Device platforms. Microsoft must convince many of these companies to migrate or develop the application in Azure or must buy market through a respected and successful company acquisition (I will not mention anyone here to avoid speculation, but I have my favorites).

Microsoft StreamInsight

Many IoT (or event-driven) applications need to analyze incoming data in near-real time—right after the data is acquired from the sources and compelling latency. The analysis must be continuous because the data sources unceasingly produce new data.

Microsoft StreamInsight (part of Microsoft SQL Server since version 2008 R2) is a powerful platform for building these highly scalable, low-latency, IoT event-driven applications.

To write StreamInsight applications, developers use familiar tools such as the Microsoft .NET Framework, LINQ and Microsoft Visual Studio.

Recommendation: The history was good for 2012 but today MSFT need to build the solution around Azure and Big Data.

Microsoft Big Data

The way Microsoft present the Big Data  + IOT + Cloud history is showed in this presentation by Denny Lee, ex-Principal Program Manager Lead, SQL Customer Advisory Team.

The message that you read in the main page of Microsoft Big Data is “Taking Big Data to a billion people”. I understand that there is a lot of money in the market for Big Data and Microsoft wants a big piece of the cake. And that’s fine, democratize Big Data to a billion people, empower end users to easily analyze their data with familiar tools like Excel is the way Microsoft have been working since the PC era.

Recommendation: Democratize Big Data to a billion people and empower end users to easily analyze their data with familiar tools like Excel is the way Microsoft have been working since the PC era. But for the IoT /M2M era, Excel is no relevant. Machine learning, Real Time Analytics, predictive analytics and social objects analytics will attract more to start ups that will fuel the innovation.

Kinect

Internet of the Things set of technologies must include a technology like Kinect that intuitively understand us and work for us. Kinect for Windows is helping transform how people interact with computers by giving businesses and developers the tools to create innovative solutions that enable users to communicate naturally with computers simply by gesturing or speaking.

It is fascinating discover the many uses of Kinect in healthcare, education, retail, research.

Recommendation: It may sound like blasphemy but what if Kinect for Android or Kinect for Apple ios ?. Other area to explore is integration of Kinect sensors with wearable technology and home area network/private home cloud.

Devices – Surface and Nokia

In “Moving forward Shareholder Letter”, the last shareholder letter Steve Ballmer wrote as the CEO of the company, it was confirmed that “The board is committed to the effective transformation of Microsoft to a successful devices and services company

If in August/13, we can read in post like this sentences like:”Microsoft’s Surface RT scenario has gone from bad to worse”, the big holiday sales of Surface confirm that mean that Microsoft Surface tablets are for real and Microsoft has finally figured out the Surface’s primary niche, as a productivity tablet, and is marketing it that way.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia (The $7.35 billion deal) will allow Microsoft build unique Windows Phone 8 line of smartphones. Maybe Nokia’s former CEO Stephen Elop is disappointed with Microsoft by the decision to appoint Mr Nadella as new CEO, but with this merger we expect to see how other cloud services like Skype, Bing, Office 365 and more sensors in the hardware will give Mirosoft and advantage in some IoT scenarios.

Recommendation: Given the rapid acceptance of smartphones and tablets by consumers and enterprises and market trends like BYOD or Mobile App Stores, Microsoft must be able to provide unique Cloud services and convince more developers to build IoT applications where the Windows Surface and Windows Nokia Phone must play a central role as gateway to Windows Azure and Windows Azure Marketplace.

Microsoft Dynamics

Microsoft Dynamics (Microsoft Dynamics CRM customer relationship management (CRM) and Microsoft Dynamics enterprise resource planning (ERP) business solution software) connects the people, processes, and information in organizations for best productivity by automating many routine and repeating functions, eliminate needless barriers, and allowing employees, partners, vendors, and customers to engage on behalf of shared goals.

Industry operators and plant designers are constantly seeking economic methods to improve plant output, maximize process efficiency and reduce system downtime. This is typically facilitated through industrial automation and control in an industrial network. The industrial network typically consists of a closed network of specialized controllers and sensors with the singular purpose of automation and process control. Machine-to-Machine (M2M) networking can potentially be integrated into the industrial network to expand on the benefits of industrial networking through the access and distribution of additional information. By networking the individual process controllers as well as other relevant sensors and machines a wealth of information can be generated to better model, control and manage the plant.

If you need further clarification about t how Internet of Things and The Industrial Internet are related, I recommend this video from Matt Hatton in Digi.com.

Recommendation: Microsoft need to partner with different industry to understand business need and allow integrate Industrial Machine to Machine technology in orchestrate business processes implemented in Microsoft Dynamics. Mobility scenarios (Surface and Nokia) and Azure and Big Data services. should be also considered as part of the best practices that Microsoft should provide to industry customers.

Microsoft CityNext

At the Worldwide Partner Conference July, 2013,  Microsoft Corp. announced Microsoft CityNext a global initiative that harnesses the power of people—whether as citizens, in businesses, or in governments—to create healthier, greener and more prosperous communities. Through CityNext, people can take advantage of a broad portfolio of products and technologies, a global network of partners, and a long track-record of successful education and social programs. CityNext helps cities take advantage of existing resources to build a sustainable model of innovation and support eight critical functions: government administration, public safety, healthcare, buildings, tourism, education, transportation, and energy and water.

Using Microsoft’s own software they built a system capable of taking in the data from the over 30,000 sensors throughout the campus and detecting and reporting on anomalies. They first piloted the solution on 13 buildings on the campus and as they explain on the 88 Acres site.

Because Microsoft’s smart building tool was built using off the shelf Microsoft technologies, it is now being productized and will be offered for sale. It joins a slew of other smarter building solutions currently on the market from the likes of IBM, Echelon, Cisco et al, but given this one is built with basic Microsoft technologies, it will be interesting to see where it comes in terms of pricing.

Recommendation: IBM, Cisco, Microsoft,… and many others are fighting to be the preferred technology vendor for cities majors,  IoT start ups, Universities,  ISVs. Behind the noble purpose, what is at stake is mastering applications and services to millions of consumers. Microsoft has shown that they can manage the expectations of municipalities. Microsoft office applications rampant for PCs officials. Microsoft has money to invest and now is the time.

Summary

When I launched several years ago OIES Domotic my reference was Bill Gates fabulous smart home. Later on, TV show Caprica pointed out my interest to democratize smart homes to middle class families. My dream seems finally going to meet sooner rather than later because the revolution around the IoT.

Microsoft owns the products, the people and the money to really make in impact in IoT / Industrial M2M. It is time for Microsoft change the healthy business of silos products and embrace the Devices and Services with a more integrated approach and with more industry core business processes and business need focus.

Beyond predictions, Microsoft is in an excellent position to lead the IoT sector. The new dream team, Mr. Nadella and Bill Gates, have the opportunity to catch up in IoT fast-moving technologies.

For additional information or resources please contact: francisco.maroto@oies.es

Additional Sources:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/hh852591.aspx

http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NewZealand/TechEd-New-Zealand-2012/AZR302

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/streaminsight/archive/2012/04/05/building-the-internet-of-things-with-microsoft-streaminsight-and-the-microsoft-net-micro-framework.aspx

http://greenmonk.net/2013/04/16/microsoft-big-data-and-smarter-buildings/

http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-device-and-services-2013-8#ixzz2sYnHcWZU

http://siliconangle.com/blog/2013/06/04/internet-of-things-vs-the-industrial-internet-whats-the-difference/

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