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Friday, May 06, 2016

Microsoft buys Solair to simplify its IoT offering

By Nick Flaherty

Microsoft has acquired Solair, an Italian company that has been delivering Internet of Things (IoT) services to customers across a number of industries, including manufacturing, retail, food & beverage and transportation by simplifying the way the technology is delivered.

Solair helps customers harness untapped data and create new intelligence with IoT, and Microsoft sees the acquisition supporting its aim of delivering the most complete IoT offering for enterprises.

Solair’s IoT customization and deployment solutions were already built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and are designed to help businesses in any industry use IoT to run more efficiently and profitably. For example, Solair worked with the Rancilio Group’s full line of espresso machines, allowing the Italian manufacturer to remotely monitor machines resulting in greater efficiency across the supply chain. Using cloud-based data and analytics, Solair has helped the Rancilio Group reduce costs and increase revenue.

In Japan, Solair is using the power of IoT to transform the way factories monitor production lines. Their Smart Factory Advisor application has helped manufacturers increase production capacity and optimize energy efficiency. By enabling a factory’s machines with their IoT solution, the information and insights gathered are leading to more efficient ways of manufacturing.

Solair developed seven software modules for standard IoT applications to address the needs of companies that handle products, industrial machinery, equipment and machine tools, and these will be integrated into the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite.

According to IDC, 48% of companies surveyed worldwide about IoT topics have deployed Internet of Things projects within their company. In Italy, however, the situation is different. There are still many companies that don’t completely understand how to benefit from the potential advantages of connected products and they looking for ready to use solutions that are quick to implement and bring measurable economic results.

Having analyzed the real needs of customers, Solair reconfigured its offering to simplify the accessibility of the technology: 
  • The foundation module focuses on managing the key elements of an IoT application: collecting data from products, sending them to the cloud, transforming them into information, etc. 6 other modules are designed to standardize processes and to manage specific conditions, e.g. preventive maintenance, product life cycle, spare parts, stock and engineering management, etc.
  • An IoT gateway provides a hardware device suitable to collect and communicate data with Solair.
  • The IoT platform enables the creation and management of any kind of fully customized IoT application.
  • The preconfigured modules standardize some of the IoT processes so that application deployment time results are even shorter. Companies can make a “soft start” and with one or two modules, and then add more later to enrich the application with additional features, if needed.

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