By Matt Hetton, Founding Partner at Transforma Insights.
Transforma Insights recently published a report comparing the capabilities of the three hyperscale cloud providers, Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft, in the provision of tools for enterprise digital transformation.
This included analysis of their capabilities across eleven technology families, of which Internet of Things was weighted as the most important. The analysis looked at capabilities across all the various functions required to implement IoT, including hardware, software, solutions, systems integration, field services, and much more.
Overall, the hyperscalers scored well in their ability to deliver IoT, although they aren’t anywhere near as dominant as they are in addressing Artificial Intelligence, or Edge Computing, two fields in which these three companies are dominant. Nevertheless, these three make a strong showing. Their hardware capabilities are somewhat limited, but with some recent significant integrated offerings (i.e. comprising hardware and services) such as AWS Monitron and Azure Percept. It is on horizontal software platforms that these players come into their own, with strong, and in many cases market-leading, offerings in application enablement, device management and business rules platforms. These more scalable aspects of the provision of IoT are obviously and sensibly the focus of all three. Application development, systems integration and project management capabilities, all of which are essential for IoT offerings, are all limited. So, overall, the hyperscalers get a fairly good review on their capabilities in IoT and it is noticeable that those efforts are being ramped up.
For enterprise customers, both AWS and Microsoft are excellent choices in IoT, having a very strong set of software capabilities across device management, application enablement and more. AWS has the lead on cutting-edge offerings but Microsoft tends to make up for being slightly slower to develop equivalent capabilities by applying additional ecosystem scale and enabling easier integration into business processes. On balance Transforma Insights believes that Microsoft just has the edge over AWS, but AWS might be a superior choice if an enterprise’s project is particularly cutting edge or performance-critical, if the enterprise is looking to develop a platform offering or a content management-based system, or if it wants to get a jump on the market by being an early adopter. Google is well behind the other two.
Looking at things from the perspective of the vendor community, what is becoming increasingly apparent is that AWS and Microsoft are becoming dominant forces in IoT. When looking to expand their capabilities beyond the cloud, they naturally looked towards edge computing. It’s an obvious adjunct, and potential competitive threat. Any smart cloud strategy inevitably also involves an edge strategy. This inevitably brings a focus on the Internet of Things, as they are by definition edge devices, either demanding increased processing on the IoT device itself, or nearby to optimise responsiveness. So, the hyperscalers have come to focus increasing attention on the IoT. They do not, in most respects, yet have quite market-beating offerings, although they are improving constantly. There is, however, little doubt that these three, certainly AWS and Microsoft, are establishing themselves as lynchpins in the IoT Over the next few years the strategies of most vendors in IoT will be defined by how they harness the capabilities of those two players, or how they are able to differentiate against them. It would also not be in any way a surprise if all three were to make significant investments in acquiring vendors providing critical elements of enterprise IoT, particularly horizontal platform capabilities.
The report includes, furthermore, analysis of other technology sectors that are closely related to IoT. As well as the aforementioned Edge Computing, it also delves into several other technology families. Human Machine Interface includes AR/VR in which Microsoft has a strong play with Hololens 2, and Google may do with Google Glass. Autonomous Robotic Systems includes drones, which have been of great interest to particularly Amazon, and robotic systems software, where all three have been developing capabilities. The Hyperconnectivity category covers the provision of the connectivity which underpins IoT. That has seen some very interesting activity from these three companies, including AWS’s Sidewalk and LoRaWAN core network offerings, and Microsoft’s acquisition of Affirmed Networks.
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