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Microsoft aims to simplify enterprise IoT deployments with SaaS

Microsoft Corp. is aiming to grow its footprint in the burgeoning Internet of Things or IoT market by providing a software-as-a-service to companies that want to deploy Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.

In a blog post announcing IoT Central, Microsoft said IoT is becoming a “critical aspect of doing business” similar to the way the Internet, mobile and cloud technologies has transformed communications. Calling it the “next big catalyst” the software giant noted that while there are a lot of benefits with IoT, incorporating it can be complex, and with a lack of skilled labor, it is hard for many companies to take advantage of. Hence, IoT Central which will provide a suite of tools to enable IoT projects.

Microsoft said IoT Central will be available alongside Azure IoT Suite. “This new IoT SaaS offering has the potential to dramatically increase the speed at which manufacturers can innovate and bring new products to the market, as well as lower the barriers to creating IoT solutions that generate new revenue opportunities and better experiences for customers,” Microsoft said. While manufacturing and engineering companies are the early adopters of IoT Central, it’s designed for all industries.

This isn’t the first time in recent weeks that Microsoft has made an IoT push geared toward enterprises. In March it announced it will launch a new IoT-focused lab in Munich. Microsoft already has IoT labs in Redmond, Wash., and Shenzhen, China, but opening one in Germany is aimed at aligning itself with a host of companies, including BMW and Siemens, that are expected to be big consumers of IoT devices and sensors. According to a report in Bloomberg, a lot of German companies, including Robert Bosch and Adidas (ADDYY), are designing their factories for IoT production lines and robots. Worldwide manufacturers spent around $178 billion on IoT in 2016, according to IDC. Market research firm Gartner predicts worldwide spending on IoT devices and services will hit $2 trillion this year, up from $737 billion in 2016.