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Microsoft works diligently to unify its code base for IoT

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November 18, 2015

Several IoT (Internet of Things) developers speaking at Microsoft's Ignite Gabfest in Australia said that IoT represents a starting point that now well positions Microsoft to respond to the Internet of Things's various apps and features.

Mitch Denny, CTO of Readify and a .NET developer for about fifteen years, spoke to Ignite about where Microsoft now fits in the IoT segment, and took some time out to speak with us.

Even as someone who loves working with gadgets and devices, he said it's the ability to gather telemetry in the back end for analysis that provides business value, and gives a company like Readify a reason to exist.

But as a developer, it's also important to get as consistent a code base as possible, all the way from the Raspberry Pi up to the server in the cloud.

That, he explained, is the angle Microsoft is pitching people to woo the IoT developer on its side. And Microsoft excels at that. Always has been, since its part of its DNA.

For example, Readify developers might write the software on an endpoint that collects telemetry; if the code and drivers are consistent, then that software can become part of the mobile app a field technician uses to configure a fleet of devices.

And upwards, the same code and drivers will find a home in the service that collects the telemetry.

Overall, the company has put a lot of work into making the libraries in the .NET ecosystem much more portable, Denny explained.

Code on a fully-fledged Windows desktop, code for a phone, and code for Windows' runtime environments are getting much closer to each other, for example.

Instrumentation in the industrial setting may be a cliché in IoT discussions, but there's lots of business value to be had there.

So let's take for example a simple butcher shop with five or six refrigerator compressors. Losing a compressor or two on the second week of December might ruin some of his Christmas ham or turkey, for example.

The immediate business value is that with instrumentation and communications, the behavior of the compressor can be seen in enough time to predict the risk of failure.

Denny added that the longer-term value is what he's trying to develop for-- that the behavior of 30,000 compressors becomes a data set that goes a long way to forecasting what's going on in a more global environment.

It's not just that the butcher suffers a brief blow from an outage-- “As consumers, we don't tolerate failure that well,” he said.

So how does this play out in the mundane business of day-to-day development? “You might have a bunch of sensors connecting to an Arduino-compatible microcontroller. But all you want there is real-time machine code,” he explained. It's what called machine-to-machine or M2M.

With a device like that you can install the Firmata protocol firmware – an open source project that will let the M2M device talk over Bluetooth, USB or Ethernet.

Because Microsoft provides the libraries to talk to that, your software can tap into very low-level sensors. Who would have thought ten years ago that Microsoft would be able to tap into the industrial electronics side of the IT industry?

Source: Readify.

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