Listening to our IoT users, we implemented ObjectBox support for Microsoft’s Azure Sphere. With this extension, you can use ObjectBox on tiny devices now. But let us explain a bit more…
What is Edge computing?
Centralized computing entails a central computer storing and processing all data with multiple machines (clients) accessing it. Decentralized computing has no central instance and data is stored and processed on the machine it is used on. The currently predominant computing paradigm, namely cloud computing, is centralized.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is pushing the industry once again towards a distributed computing paradigm. In this context it is called Edge computing. Edge Computing aims to store and process data on end devices (so called edge devices or nodes) like smartphones, routers, and the IoT end devices. We view Edge Computing as an extension of the cloud, adding value and functionality on the edge of the network.
Note: Fog Computing and Edge Computing definitions vary and overlap widely. This is just the definition we use.
What is the Azure Sphere?
The Azure Sphere is foremost an operating system for “small chips”, or more exactly, Internet-connected microcontroller units (MCUs). It was developed by Microsoft for Internet of Things (IoT) applications and comes with integrated cloud security services. As of today, it runs on a MT3620 MCU produced by MediaTek in collaboration with Microsoft.
Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud solution is closely related to the Azure Sphere. Security and user management, configuration and deployment can be analyzed and modified using that web interface.
ObjectBox on Azure Sphere
There were a couple of reasons why we at ObjectBox support Azure Sphere:
- Its operating system is a shrunk Linux kernel with an embedded libcurl. This allows one to write efficient C code using well-known APIs, resulting in faster prototyping and platform-independent code.
By the way, even Richard Stallman appreciated using Linux in his video comment! 😉
- The price point for an Internet-connected MCU is great: ~ $8
- The development kit is quite affordable too: $84.90
- It specifically addresses security, which is one of the biggest IoT challenges. Sphere devices are updated by Microsoft.
- Edge Computing needs to work within an ecosystem from very small to medium sized devices in order to be scalable.
Furthermore, we looked at the lifetime costs: Firstly, we chose Azure Sphere, because it can save maintenance costs. Secondly, because there is one unified interface to the platform, the platform itself may be used for any task imaginable (e.g. facility management, real time inventory, etc.). Thirdly, Microsoft’s security solution provides Over-the-air (OTA) updates. Therefore, it takes care of keeping the operating system up to date for you.
Azure Sphere use cases
- E.ON, one of Europe’s leading energy companies, started a cooperation with Microsoft for designing a Home Energy Management system based on Azure Sphere devices.
- Crosser uses the Azure Sphere environment to collect and analyze industrial asset data.
- The Indian startup Spektacom developed a “Power Bat” to enhance Cricket with IoT using Azure Sphere.
- The Oil & Gas industry, as one of the classic IoT edge use cases is an ideal future case for Azure Sphere.
These use cases exemplify a key consequence of using the Internet of Things in everyday devices: they may not only read and analyze sensor data, but also control the machine they are attached to, even autonomously. In connection with intelligent algorithms, these devices are able to make far-reaching decisions and thus maximize overall efficiency.
Benefits of ObjectBox on Azure Sphere
ObjectBox can greatly simplify the process of data collection, transmission, and processing. Let’s now see how ObjectBox is able to solve common problems encountered when integrating IoT into any kind of environment.
Let’s now see how ObjectBox is able to solve common problems encountered when integrating IoT into any kind of environment.
Scalability, i.e. integrating new devices into a fleet of existing ones, can be challenging because of the gigantic amount of data it generates and that must be transferred to a high-level entity. ObjectBox’s speed advantage provides a solution to this. Confirmed by 3rd party reviewers, ObjectBox outperforms alternatives in all areas. Thus, it offers higher rates for data transmission, storage and retrieval.
ObjectBox is created from developers for developers. Because ObjectBox’s programming interfaces are exceptionally easy to use, development time can be minimized and first prototypes can be delivered after a very short time.
Additionally, it is necessary to make sure data is always up-to-date and prevent unintentionally storing redundant or meaningless data. Our synchronization feature will solve that out-of-the-box for you.