Azure has a few methods of offering Internet of Things (IoT) services. What does IoT refer to? Internet of Things (IoT) generally is meant to define a network of Internet-connected hardware that is able to collect and exchange data like other computers connected to the internet. IoT devices have exploded in popularity in the connected age and include a wide array of devices such as smart light bulbs, smart refrigerators, smart light switches, security cameras, thermostat devices, drones, phones, wideband hardware, and more. These devices all have embedded software, sensors, and processors, that make their exchange of data possible.
Azure IoT Hub
IoT hub is a central message hub for bi-directional communication between IoT applications and managed devices. It’s important to note that in IoT hub, communication is bi-directional. Sometimes IoT hub is compared to Event hub but Event hub does not share this bi-directional capability. Event Hub was a bit of a precursor to IoT hub for IoT applications, but now IoT hub is the way to go. IoT Hub is the foundational Plattform as a Service offering for device communication, management, and connectivity.
Azure IoT Central
IoT hub is also a service for communication between IoT apps and the devices it manages. The difference between IoT hub and IoT central is that IoT is an application platform that simplifies the creation of Internet of Things solutions. IoT central helps to reduce the challenges of implementing IoT development, operations, and management. IoT Central is a fully managed Software as a Service solution. This lowers the bar for entry into the IoT landscape for clients that have limited technical knowledge to manage the IoT stack.
Microsoft Azure Sphere is also related to the IoT paradigm. It runs an the Sphere certified chip and connects to the Azure Sphere Security Service. It is essentially a Linux-based operating system with a cloud based security service that enables continues security. This is a specialized and purpose built OS just for Azure.
Note: Azure Time Series Insights is built to store, visualize, and query large amounts of time series data, such as that generated by IoT devices. This is good to identify performance anomalies and identify opportunities to refine and improve device operation.
Azure IoT Central and Hub Differences
|Azure IoT Central||Azure IoT Hub|
|Type of Service||IoT Central is a managed SaaS solution.||IoT Hub is a managed Paas.|
|Application Template||Application templates help with rapid application development||Start from scratch solution using Azure IoT Hub and other PaaS services.|
|Device Management||Device Provisioning Service capabilities are built in.||Device Provisioning Service is enabled separately.|
|Scalability||Supports auto-scaling.||Does not support auto scaling.|
|Message Retention||Retains data on a 30 day rolling basis.||7 day retention period.|
|Analytics, Insights, and Actions||Integrated data analysis services is built in.||Separate Azure PaaS services are required to incorporate analytics, insights, and actions.|
|Big Data Management||Data Management can be managed directly from Azure IoT Central.||Big Data Azure PaaS services required|
|High Availability and Disaster Recovery||High availability and disaster recovery capabilities are built in||Custom configuration required for high availability and disaster recovery|
|SLA||Azure IoT Central guarantees 99.9% connectivity.||Azure IoT Hub standard and basic tiers guarantee 99.9% uptime.|
|Device Template||Device message templates can be based on device types.||A custom repository is needed to define and manage device message templates.|
|Data Export||Provides data export to Azure blob storage, event hubs, and service bus.||Event hub endpoint and message routing can be used to export data to other storage locations.|
|Rules and Actions||Provides a built-in rules and actions processing capability.||IoT Hub data can be sent to Stream Analytics, Time Series Insights, or Event Grid.|
|SigFox/LoRaWAN Protocol||Uses IoT Central Device Bridge.||Requires a custom Module on Azure IoT Edge and integrate it with Azure IoT Hub.|
Learn More About Azure IoT Hub And IoT Central
- Azure Iot Hub (docs.microsoft.com)
- Build An Iot Application With Azure Iot (hub.packtpub.com)
- Azure Iot Hub Mqtt Connection (opc-router.com)
- How To Create An IoT Hub(riteitdifferently.com)
- Azure Iot Central (docs.microsoft.com)
- Azure Iot Central Application Hands On Lab (gloveboxes.github.io)
- Connect Wio Terminal to Microsoft Azure IoT Central(iki.seeedstudio.com)