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Siemens links with Microsoft on cloud-based IoT platform

31 January, 2017

At the recent SPS IPC Drives exhibition in Germany, Siemens announced plans to make its MindSphere Internet-of-Things ecosystem available on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform during 2017. MindSphere allows industrial enterprises to improve the efficiency of their plants by acquiring and analysing large amounts of production data.

The two companies plan to offer MindSphere and affiliated apps on the Azure platform. The use of public cloud services will eliminate the need for users to install and maintain dedicated IT infrastructures. In addition, Azure infrastructure services will provide high availability on a scalable basis, because only the computing power actually needed will be used and charged for.

As part of the collaboration, Siemens customers wanting to develop and make apps available in the public cloud will be able to use data centres operated by Microsoft or themselves.

As an open cloud platform for industrial applications, MindSphere opens up possibilities for linking-up devices and providing plug-and-play connections using open standards. It will help users to evaluate and use their data in ways they had not previously envisaged – for instance, to optimise the performance of their equipment.

Helmrich: new business models for industry

Siemens says that MindSphere also paves the way for new business models, such as the sale of machine hours, while users will benefit from transparent pay-per-use pricing models. “By establishing MindSphere, we have created a robust infrastructure, and consequently provided both the foundation and the conditions necessary for data-based industrial services,” Siemens board member Klaus Helmrich said at SPS. “And we are continuing to drive forward the expansion of MindSphere as the basis for new digital business models for industry.”

More than 400m2 of Siemens’ vast stand at SPS was devoted to a “MindSphere Lounge” presenting ideas and applications for the cloud-based service. These included an app running on Microsoft’s HoloLens virtual reality technology, and connected to a Siemens Simatic S7 controller. The app was showing a 3D model, visualising the operating state of the controller, and writing values through gesture control.

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