The Essential Guide to Azure IoT Central

4 min read

The growing array of smart devices in our homes and workplaces has transformed our lives. We can now program many of the devices we use daily to operate at peak efficiency, independently, thanks to IoT (Internet of Things) technology. 

IoT enables smart devices to connect and exchange data through APIs and other solutions, allowing devices from household staples to manufacturing machinery to utilize data and sync operations. 

IoT network management and data collection is highly challenging; as the networks become more extensive and reach enterprise levels, utilizing APIs, platforms, and other solutions has become essential for implementing IoT solutions. As of 2020, Microsoft’s Azure IoT has been the leading platform on the market. With various cloud services, Azure IoT can be used to build, manage, and scale IoT infrastructures, regardless of size and complexity. The platform offers both PaaS and SaaS services, including IoT Central.


What is Azure IoT Central?

IoT Central is one of the services included in Microsoft’s Azure IoT platform. It is an a PaaS (application platform as a service) designed to reduce the cost and difficulty of developing, building, managing, and maintaining large and complex IoT infrastructure built from a network of interconnected devices. IoT Central preserves the time and resources companies would otherwise need to spend building and maintaining an IoT platform.  

Azure IoT Central components

With the many benefits that IoT Central can provide to your infrastructure, it’s difficult to isolate which components are most helpful. The service includes dashboards, UI/UX surfaces, provisioning and data management services, data storage, and security features. These are just several of the components that make the following processes possible:

  • Managing devices

IoT Central simplifies the device management process. Handling piles of data coming in from a large fleet of devices can be challenging, but IoT Central allows you to control which devices are allowed to connect to your application. It also enables you to use device templates to limit the devices connected to your application and manage them by defining properties or initializing commands on connected devices. Companies can do this via a customizable UI or by scheduling on-demand jobs.

  • View and analyze device data

IoT Central allows you to easily view and analyze the data your devices collect, both as data collected from individual devices and as a collection of data gathered from multiple devices. Features such as mapping and device templates allow you to customize and structure data, making it more readable and enabling you to gather actionable insights. Additionally, the platform offers built-in analytics that allows users to identify patterns in data collected by multiple devices. You can create customized dashboards that display data and streamline device management processes.

  • Secure data and devices

Security is one of the most significant challenges that IoT faces today. A single attack can debilitate an entire network and lead to both financial and operational losses. IoT Central includes features that facilitate security management by allowing you to restrict device and user access to your application, control programmatic access to your applications, and authenticate other devices and services accessing your application. By controlling access, you reduce the risk of unwanted people or devices accessing your network and breaching your security, keeping your network more secure.


The Most Common Challenges with Azure IoT Central

Although Azure IoT Central has many benefits and streamlines the IoT implementation and maintenance process, no platform is perfect. Like any other technology, IoT Central has flaws that make it challenging to use. For example, many users report difficulties integrating the solution with other platforms and systems and debugging web applications. Other users claim to have trouble with unclear or not extensive enough logs and documentation, which created debugging issues and difficulty acclimating to the platform.

There’s another challenge concerning supported systems. The solution can only support a limited number of mainstream systems and doesn’t support systems that are more popular outside of the United States, like Huawei Harmony and Ubuntu. IoT Central also has limited security features with endpoints that lack the capabilities to protect devices and support certain security practices such as digital certificates, leaving networks open to vulnerabilities. The solution’s interoperability is less than ideal and requires improvement to advance system integration capabilities. Azure IoT’s current pricing system is rigid, making it less suitable for smaller projects or projects with lower budgets.

Visualization vs Connectivity 

Azure IoT Central focuses solely on visualization. While this is an excellent capability to have and make use of, the ability to visualize data and gather insights isn’t enough – you need an actual connectivity management platform that enables you to connect devices to a network and manage them efficiently. When looking for a connectivity platform, reliability and security are prime factors to consider, as you need to ensure that operations run smoothly at all times. FirstPoint offers a secure and robust cellular connectivity platform that supports any use case and any network, using technologies from 2G to 5G, NB-IoT and LTE-M. 

IoT Networks Remain Complex and Essential 

The need for IoT has grown exponentially, becoming an essential part of day-to-day functions and enterprise-wide operations. As IoT technology expands, the networks of data-sharing devices will grow more diverse and complex. As a result, despite platforms such as IoT Central, managing massive networks will become increasingly challenging. Managing large networks is already proving difficult, giving organizations the challenge of juggling the management of large amounts of data and the devices that collect it. That’s why utilizing the help of a robust IoT connectivity management platform is essential, as is finding a platform that meets all of your organization’s needs and protects its interests with powerful security.

FirstPoint offers a platform that streamlines the IoT connectivity process while providing unparalleled security that protects your devices and network. With FirstPoint, you can achieve the ultimate in network security while enjoying the conveniences of a fully customizable and scalable solution. Get in touch with FirstPoint to learn how you can defend and manage your IoT network and get started with our easy-to-implement platform.

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