Microsoft has unveiled its latest Internet of Things (IoT) development: Azure IoT Edge, which will aim to bring the benefits of the cloud to edge devices.

Azure IoT Edge will span cloud and IoT edge devices, making it easier to securely distribute cloud intelligence locally. It is cross platform – running on both Windows and Linux – and can run on devices even smaller than a Raspberry Pi, with as little as 128MB of memory.

Sam George, partner director of Azure IoT, said that as the IoT continues to see increased adoption and businesses realise the benefits it can bring, “the next breakthrough capability we’re providing is to enable IoT devices themselves to evolve”.

He explained that when IoT devices start running cloud intelligence locally, they are referred to as IoT edge devices. He went on to say that enabling intelligence on these devices means allowing analytics and insights to be generated closer to the source of the data, which would then save the company’s customers money, as well as simplify their solutions.

In a blog post, Mr George said that in early IoT solutions, most devices sent telemetry to and received commands from the cloud, “with the logic that found insights in device telemetry residing in the cloud”.

However, the situation has changed, with billions of devices now connected and sending trillions of messages. For this reason, Microsoft explained, moving some of the cloud intelligence out to IoT devices themselves is a sensible decision.

Instead of just generating data and sending it to the cloud, IoT edge devices are able to process and analyse information to gain insights. They can then act on them locally and autonomously. As an example, Microsoft pointed to a factory that needs immediate response times to stop operations when an equipment failure is predicted by local intelligence, or to protect worker safety in the event of an accident.

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