After several years of building and testing previews, Microsoft on Monday announced the general availability of its Azure Sphere secure IoT service.
Microsoft first introduced Azure Sphere in 2018, opting to use its own version of a Linux operating system instead of Windows 10 to drive its new Azure Sphere OS to securely connect Internet of Things devices.
Azure Sphere is a platform connecting microcontroller units embedded within IoT devices. The platform operates a new MCU crossover class that combines both real-time and application processors with built-in Microsoft security technology and connectivity.
Each chip includes custom silicon security technology Microsoft developed. Azure Sphere leverages a custom Linux-based kernel. The kernel runs in supervisor mode, along with a boot loader, and is tuned for the flash and RAM capabilities of the Azure Sphere MCU.
Security is one of the leading arriers to expanding IoT adoption safely. Microsoft hopes to lock down IoT device security with its cloud-based delivery solution. The company sees its mission as empowering organizations to create and connect secure, trustworthy IoT devices in order to encourage innovation.
The number of connected devices is expected to reach 20 billion units this year. Microsoft expects IoT adoption to accelerate to provide connectivity to hundreds of billions of devices. Such massive growth would increase the risks for unsecured devices.
General availability for Azure IoT is good news for the industry as enterprises will be most comfortable with platforms from companies like Microsoft, VMware and AWS, according to Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
"The Azure folks need to make sure that its message of cross-platform and cross-vendor become true," he told LinuxInsider.
Getting Ahead of the Curve
Microsoft announced Azure Sphere two years ago as a program to improve security for the 41.6 billion Internet for things devices IDC expected to be connected to the Internet by 2025.
This week's announcement demonstrates that the company is ready to fulfill that promise at scale, noted Halina McMaster, principal group program manager for Microsoft's Azure division.
First, Azure Sphere software and hardware have completed rigorous quality and security reviews. Second, Microsoft's security service is ready to support organizations of any size. Third, operations and security processes are in place and ready for scale, McMaster said.
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