October 1, 2019 12:00 pm

Bringing the security and manageability of Windows for IoT to the intelligent edge

By / Principal Program Manager, Microsoft

The intelligent edge continues to expand the possibilities for businesses of all sizes, enabling them to gain new insights in real time and translate them into powerful business intelligence on site. With the growth of the intelligent edge comes increasing demand for connected devices, and this creates new opportunities for developers with expertise in security, cloud, systems engineering and hardware programming. But building IoT devices and connected systems also poses fresh challenges.

The IoT in Action event series is a great opportunity for you to learn to build new IoT experiences and drive rapid innovation in your business with the intelligent edge. Join Microsoft in Santa Clara on Oct. 10 to learn more.

The IoT in Action event series cover photo

How the intelligent edge is influencing needed developer skills

For embedded developers—those tasked with developing the actual devices and making them ”smart” by embedding sensors, microprocessors and CPUs into machines that may not have incorporated such technologies in the past—the major challenges lie in understanding connectivity. Embedded developers are seeing these devices be connected to the internet for the first time, and along the way, they’re being exposed to new worlds: the world of the cloud, and that of network infrastructures. They need to learn new skills so they can integrate the devices with IT networks and with cloud applications and solutions. They also need to understand and mitigate new network-born threats that these devices encounter.

On-premises application developers confront a different obstacle. They need to learn how to develop for new devices, creating applications that will run on or connect to machines, gadgets, and appliances that they may never have worked with before. Their applications must ingest the data from these devices and pass it to a cloud platform reliably and securely. These developers must cultivate the skills necessary to work within devices’ constraints. IoT devices often have very limited storage and compute, they may run on batteries, and they may have only intermittent connectivity. Such constraints require developers to learn new paradigms.

Microsoft products and services were developed with these needed capabilities and skills in mind. For instance, Windows for IoT supports Azure IoT Edge. This makes it easy and seamless to integrate the IoT Edge runtime, making it possible to move machine learning algorithms and other similarly complex computing functions from the cloud to edge devices. Windows for IoT also supports Windows Machine Learning and Windows Vision Skills, which allows you to run advanced AI algorithms developed in Azure on any Windows for IoT device.

How Windows 10 helps improve security and manageability for IoT devices

Security and device management are primary obstacles faced by enterprises seeking to implement IoT scenarios at scale, and developers are tasked with building the infrastructure to solve these problems. As a member of the Windows 10 family, Windows for IoT provides developers with a solid foundation for building innovative IoT solutions, incorporating the security, manageability and long-term support for which Windows has long been known. Microsoft has decades of experience building enterprise-grade systems and solutions, and it’s baked into every edition of Windows.

Windows for IoT includes editions that support devices from small and low-cost to powerful server-class. Windows 10 IoT Core is optimized for smaller devices with or without displays, while Windows 10 IoT Enterprise is designed for PC-class hardware. And Windows Server IoT 2019 can run on the most powerful server systems with very large storage. These operating systems share security features like Secure Boot, data encryption with Bit locker, and lockdown features to easily create dedicated devices.

Windows is the world’s most popular business operating system, with different versions running on billions of devices across the globe. Windows for IoT benefits from this universality, taking advantage of Microsoft’s experience with delivering software patches to millions of end users to secure an operating system at scale, as well as Microsoft’s experience provisioning and managing PCs on networks both large and small. These can include security patches which Microsoft has committed to offering for 10 years on select releases for Windows for IoT.

Device management is another area where Windows for IoT benefits from Microsoft’s experience. Windows for IoT has many management options ranging from the traditional tools used to manage Windows PCs, laptops and servers to newer methods that use cloud connections. The latter includes MDM systems and IoT-specific services like Azure IoT Hub, which connects and manages devices at scale. Azure IoT Hub also enables ”zero touch” provisioning, which streamlines the device enrollment and provision process of Windows for IoT devices.

Microsoft and Windows for IoT: a resource-rich ecosystem for developers

Joining the Microsoft IoT partner ecosystem and collaborating with a Microsoft partner can be an effective way to build the IoT solutions for your business. Working together with a partner, you won’t have to start from scratch when developing IoT projects and can rely on Microsoft reference architectures—as well as building blocks that your partner can supply. It’s a great idea to start with simple, off-the-shelf solutions and then customize as you learn more.

Start by joining Microsoft in Santa Clara for the upcoming IoT in Action event on Oct. 10. This event series is your opportunity to meet and connect with customers and partners across the IoT ecosystem. Whether you’re looking for specific skills and valuable insights from others’ IoT experiences, or you want to connect with those that are building or ready to implement repeatable, out-of-the-box IoT solutions – these events will help surface these opportunities for you.

For those with experience developing IoT solutions or devices, we will be hosting a hands-on lab experience the day before, on Oct. 9, in the Microsoft Sunnyvale office. Seating is extremely limited, so be sure to request a seat in the lab in advance.

Developers working with Azure IoT and Windows for IoT products, services and solutions can make use of abundant resources that Microsoft has created to help them develop new skills. Extensive documentation and training resources are available at the IoT School, and you can meet likeminded professionals and engage in ongoing discussion by joining the IoT Tech Community.

Prefer videos and webinars? Microsoft also has the IoT in Action webinar series that spotlights partner solutions and technology.