IoT in the Cloud: Azure vs AWS

As of November 2019, there are 7.7 billion people in the world, and 26.66 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices. While the world population sees continued growth, it is surpassed by the widespread use of IoT devices. According to the United Nations forecast, the world’s population should reach 8.1 billion in 2025. By that time, IoT penetration should jump to 75.44 billion.

The increase in the demand for IoT technology can be attributed to the growth in digitalization. The customers of 2019 look for fast and convenient experiences—when purchasing products, ordering supplies, licensing software, and outsourcing services. Digitalization helps organizations service customers over the Internet. The technology that enables this connection is IoT.

What Is IoT and Who Needs It?

The official definition of IoT treats technology as an umbrella term, which covers a system of connected physical and digital components. Each IoT component has a Unique Identifier (UID), and can transmit data without the assistance of mediators.

IoT is commonly categorized into five applications:

Consumer IoT

Consumer IoT is perhaps the most talked about application of connected devices. A popular application of consumer IoT is smart home devices, such as home security systems and light fixtures. Also included is elder care IoT, which covers assisting technologies like voice assistance and physical devices like cochlear implants.

Commercial IoT

Smart healthcare devices, aka The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), cover a range of technologies that enable the digitization of healthcare. IoMT includes data collection and monitoring systems, pacemakers, Fitbit electronic wristbands, and sensors.

Applications in the transport industry include smart traffic systems, infrastructure sensors, and electronic toll collection systems. To enable connected cars, automobile innovators make use of a range of connectivity devices.

A notable trend is vehicle-to-everything communication (V2X), which aims to develop IoT technology that enables autonomous driving. The main components in V2X are vehicle to vehicle communication (V2V), vehicle to infrastructure communication (V2I) and vehicle to pedestrian communications (V2P). All of these can only be enabled by IoT.

Industrial IoT

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices enable companies to monitor and manage industrial systems. Applications of IIoT in manufacturing include digital control systems, predictive maintenance, statistical evaluation, and industrial big data. IIoT also enables smart agriculture and helps utility companies digitize their services. .

Infrastructure IoT

Smart cities are made possible by the city-wide deployment of IoT components. A smart city architecture unifies its services—including networking, energy, utility, and transport—under a cohesive digital ecosystem. This kind of operation requires a wide range of IoT components—from switches and routers to sensors, management systems, and user-friendly user apps.

Military IoT

The term Internet of Military Things (IoMT) refers to the application of IoT technologies in the military field. For example, sensors for reconnaissance, robots for surveillance, and human-wearable biometrics for combat.

What Is Cloud-Based IoT?

To develop and maintain IoT technology, developers require a host of resources. Some developers prefer their own infrastructure. Others opt to outsource some or all of IoT-enabling processes and tools.

Cloud vendors offer a variety of cloud-based IoT services. You can find fully managed IoT services, which leave the main tasks in the hands of the cloud providers. There are IoT services that offer on-demand resources, and there are also services that support IoT operations.

Azure IoT services

Azure IoT Hub

A cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) for IoT development. You can use the hub to build, connect, maintain, and monitor IoT. The hub supports multiple protocols such as HTTP, MQTT, and AMQP, and configuration of other protocols via the Azure IoT Protocol Gateway. Azure offers a free tier, which you can use to experiment and grow at scale. For backup, Azure offers a range of services, including disaster and recovery services.

Azure IoT Edge

Cloud intelligence and analytics at the edge. Edge computing enables you to lower storage and bandwidth use. Instead of writing data to the cloud for processing, storage, and analysis, you can do these tasks locally. The advantage of IoT edge is very low latency and almost real-time response potential.

Azure IoT Central

A fully managed IoT Software as a Service (SaaS). You can use this service to quickly deploy production-grade IoT applications. This is an end-to-end solution that enables businesses to deploy, monitor, and manage IoT. A main advantage is the templates offered, so you won’t need to start from scratch.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT

Amazon FreeRTOS

A microcontroller operating system for the development and management of small edge devices. Amazon FreeRTOS is an extension of the open source FreeRTOS kernel. The service enhances open source software libraries with AWS IoT Core and AWS Greengrass offerings.

AWS Greengrass

AWS IoT Greengrass provides controls for building IoT devices that connect to the cloud and other devices. The main advantage of this service is that it enables the local execution of AWS Lambda code, data caching, messaging, and security. Devices are put together into groups, and each group can communicate over the local network. This enables fast communication, which translates into near real-time response.

AWS IoT Core

A managed cloud service that enables you to connect devices to cloud components. You can easily connect billions of devices. The service can support trillions of messages, any of which can be routed to AWS endpoints and other devices. AWS IoT Core connects to other AWS services, including Greengrass, AWS IoT Analytics, and AWS Lambda. You can use the free tier to experiment, but be sure to properly calculate all variables before fully adopting the service.


In today’s digitized ecosystem, there’s no shortage of solutions. As the demand for IoT technologies rises, the cloud IoT market follows. The major cloud vendors—Azure, Google, and AWS—provide a range of IoT offerings.

There are many services, so be sure to check out other cloud vendors.  Only you can tell which vendor is a good fit for you. Do your research, assess your situation, and make use of the free tiers. Experience will make you wiser.

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Oracle, Zend, CheckPoint and Ixia, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership.

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