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IoT Solution Accelerators

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We’ve just explored IoT implementation patterns. In this step, let’s look at IoT solution accelerators, how they’re used, and their limitations.

What are Solution Accelerators?

IoT solution accelerators are a collection of complete, ready-to-deploy, IoT solutions that implement common IoT scenarios such as remote monitoring, connected factory, predictive maintenance, and device simulation.

When you deploy a solution accelerator, the deployment includes all the required cloud-based services and application code. Think of solution accelerators as fully scaffolded starter solutions that you can use either to learn about various IoT scenarios or as templates upon which you can build your own.

Note: In order to use the solution accelerators, you’ll need to have signed up for an Azure account, and deploying an accelerator will incur charges on Azure. These accelerators have been developed by Microsoft and are built on Azure IoT services.

At the time of writing, the following solution accelerators are available:

  1. Remote monitoring: Use this solution accelerator to collect telemetry from multiple remote devices and to control them. Example devices include cooling systems installed on your customers’ premises or valves installed in remote pump stations.
  2. Connected factory: Use this solution accelerator to collect telemetry from industrial assets with an OPC Unified Architecture (UA) interface (a standards-based, service-oriented framework) and to control them. Industrial assets might include assembly and test stations on a factory production line.
  3. Predictive maintenance: Use this solution accelerator to predict when a remote device is expected to fail so you can carry out maintenance before the predicted failure happens. This solution accelerator uses machine learning algorithms to predict failures from device telemetry. Example devices might be aeroplane engines or elevators.
  4. Device simulation: Use this solution accelerator to run multiple simulated devices that generate realistic telemetry. You can use this solution accelerator to test the behaviour of the other solution accelerators or to test your own custom IoT solutions.

Each of these accelerators conforms to Microsoft’s reference architecture (the document we’ve been looking at throughout this course) so that the basics of your solution adheres to Microsoft’s recommendations.

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How are Solution Accelerators used?

Like any template, solution accelerators provide the basic framework required to model and then provide the foundation for specific aspects of an overall solution. Given the complexity of an IoT solution, the accelerators deploy all the necessary components needed to get essential parts of an overall solution up and running quickly.

This model is used in software development. For example, those familiar with angular development may have used the angular command-line interface (CLI) command ng new. This command installs the necessary files required to build an angular application and can scaffold the application by creating a basic angular app.

By using ng new, developers can avoid having to figure out which parts of the framework they need to install individually and get a basic app they can build on for their own solution. IoT solution accelerators work in a similar way for IoT development.

For example, the Remote Monitoring solution accelerator provides the following services in Azure:

  • Azure Active Directory application
  • Virtual machine
  • IoT Hub
  • Cosmos DB Account
  • Storage account
  • Web application
  • Azure Maps account
  • Azure Stream Analytics
  • Azure Device Provisioning Service
  • Azure Time Series Insights.

These services will provide you with all the basics you need to explore a remote monitoring solution. You can use this basic deployment as a basis for your own solution and the accelerator helps you get started by taking the guesswork out of what you’ll need.

You need to first understand how to use all these services and how to put together an architecture for your IoT solution. You can learn more about each of the architectural areas the four accelerators cover in other courses in this ExpertTrack.

Limitations of Solution Accelerators

As we stated above, the accelerators will provide only the basic framework for parts of an IoT solution. Using them presumes that you know how to put an overall architecture together and build upon them if your goal is to build a solution that you can deploy for a real-world scenario.

Note also that the accelerators are limited in the following ways:

  • They are not a single solution but isolated scenarios designed to provide a primer for a specific aspect of what could become a solution. Connecting the individual solutions together to create an overall solution would require development work.
  • The accelerators are not comprehensive. That is, even if you deployed all the available accelerators, you still wouldn’t have everything you’d need for a complete IoT solution.
  • As the name of the last accelerator in the list suggests, devices are simulated in these accelerators so you’d need to do the work of provisioning physical devices and managing them on your own. The accelerators do, however, give you the framework for working with physical devices and the simulated hardware is a good start point for learning how to work with IoT devices.

Despite these limitations, solution accelerators are a great way to get started with IoT and can be a good solution to jump-start your own development. They can also be used to develop cost models and proof-of-concept projects as you work through your own architectural models.

We encourage you to experiment with the accelerators as you work through the other courses in this series.

Let’s mark this section as complete and move on to implementing IoT devices.

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Microsoft Future Ready: Fundamentals of Internet of Things (IoT)

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