@JasonMacEntee, linkedin.com/in/macentee

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This past summer I began to explore the partner perspective on the ever-growing world of Azure, as organized by the Azure Platform Big Picture. I started with Azure Security options to give partners an overview of the facts on issues that enterprise customers may be most concerned about. Then I explored Fast Data and how it relates to the Azure services in the Analytic category.

Today, I’m talking about what Azure has to offer in the area summarized as “Media, Internet of Things & Intelligence”. Each service offers very different value to different customer types, but my belief is that the best MS Partners will have a basic understanding of all Azure services, so they are ready to assist their customers in finding the solutions which work best for them.

Azure Media Services

What is it?

Media Services that solve a broad range of problems, all centered around video.

Who is it for?

  • App developers: to enable the sharing of video between users.
  • Broadcasters and commercial creators: to deliver their content directly to their audience while controlling the entire consumer experience.
  • Government and Enterprise: to securely stream recorded meetings, training materials, and other “video documents” with their employees.

Why would they use it?

With the introduction of mobile and the death of Adobe Flash, the world of video delivery on the internet became dramatically more complex, with each packet of content needing to be “encoded” for compatibility with a wide range of devices, sizes, and bandwidths. Media Services avoids the significant upfront investment in education, time, and money that it would be required for customers to do this themselves.

Where can I learn more?

To see Azure Media Services in action, view the demo of the built-in Azure Media Player. For more detailed information, check out the introduction form.

Azure IoT Suite

What is it?

The Azure IoT Suite provides pre-built recipes of management solutions for the new world of Internet of Things deployments. The “thing” in IoT can be just about anything, but one common trait besides being internet-connected is that customers need to plan for a lot of them. Any IT solution that contains the phrase “a lot” is inherently difficult to create from scratch. Azure IoT Suite jumpstarts scalability while minimizing upfront investment. The Azure IoT Suite contains the Azure IoT Hub Service.

Who is it for?

  • Hardware startups and manufacturers wanting to create new classifications of smart physical products.
  • Enterprises wanting to manage and monitor internal deployments of connected devices.
  • Developers offering value-added services for existing IoT installations.

Why would they use it?

A manufacturing customer may be deploying new connected sensors which monitor defects in their assembly lines. A life science company may be deploying new connected lab equipment to automate their pharmaceutical testing process. These devices probably have the headline-required features built right in like alerts on defects detected and reports generated on spectrometer analysis. What they may not have is value-added analysis on secondary data, like trends over time of non-defect-alerting measurements to predict future failures. Or even battery life remaining over time per location to assist in scheduling maintenance. These scenarios and more are what Azure IoT Suite can assist with.

Where can I learn more?

For more info, read the Azure IoT Suite Predictive Maintenance case study and the Azure IoT Suite Water Utility case study.

Azure Event Hubs

What is it?

Event Hubs is a developer service designed to process millions of events per second from websites, apps, and IoT devices and route them to the correct subscribers for collection, analysis, action, or reporting. This service is relevant to Fast Data, IoT, and Data Lake solutions.

Who is it for?

Event Hubs is for anyone who owns any solution which is generating a lot of real-time data (“events”) which needs to be sorted using rules-based criteria so it can be effectively handled by line of business applications.

Why would they use it?

This service is used to create a flexible model that doesn’t permanently couple particular applications to specific sources of data. Doing so would require the consuming application to be hosted on an infrastructure of a scale which is dictated by the size of the data source. Creating a hub provides the flexibility to send just the right data to each consuming application, reducing the complexity of the data processing requirements of the consumer.

Where can I learn more?

To learn more, read the Azure Event Hubs 101 tutorial, and explore case studies of real world messaging with Microsoft Azure Service Bus & Event Hubs here.

Azure Cognitive Services

What is it?

Cognitive Services is part of the Cortana Intelligence Suite of services. It is a collection of interfaces which enable developers to include advanced features of Language, Speech, Search, Vision, and Recommendations into their enterprise or commercial applications.

Who is it for?

The main users of these services are application developers with the need or desire to include next generation human-to-computer user experiences in their applications.

Why would they use it?

Just a few years ago, the application possibilities that Cognitive Services enable were so far out of the average developer’s reach, they might as well have been science fiction. Now, with straightforward service calls, everyone from garage app tinkerers though enterprise system architects can include incredible features in their solutions like facial recognition, language translation, and direct voice control.

Where can I learn more?

Browse a gallery of applications which are making use of Cognitive Services here and get an overview of all the interfaces available here.

The direct use of these individual services can solve a wide range of existing business problems. Taken together, Azure services create a symphony of possibilities, extending well beyond solving problems and leaping into creating new customer value in unimagined ways.

How is your company using Azure to grow your business and meet your customer’s needs in new ways? Share your tips for partners in your comments below.

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