Microsoft snaps up IoT firm Express Logic to “unlock billions of new endpoints”
Microsoft has acquired embedded computing software firm Express Logic for an undisclosed fee, with an aim to “unlock access to billions of new connected endpoints” in the internet-of-things (IoT) space.
The San Diego outfit is behind the ThreadX real-time operating system (RTOS), for managing highly constrained IoT and edge devices running microcontroller units (MCUs), down to battery powered units, with minimal (less than 64KB) of flash memory.
Microsoft cited its usage in lightbulbs, temperature gauges, air conditioners, medical devices, and network appliances. “[Its] widespread popularity is driven by demand for technology to support resource constrained environments, especially those that require safety and security,” it said.
Express Logic claims around 6.2 billion devices have been deployed with its ThreadX RTOS platform. Microsoft suggested over nine billion MCU-powered IoT devices are deployed each year; many “can benefit” from Express Logic’s solutions, it said.
Microsoft will push ThreadX where Azure Sphere “isn’t possible in highly constrained devices”, it said in a statement. ThreadX offers “additional certifications and out-of-the-box connectivity” to its own IoT setups, it stated.
Sam George, director of Azure IoT at Microsoft, said: “We will unlock access to billions of new connected endpoints, grow the number of devices that can seamlessly connect to Azure and enable new intelligent capabilities.”
The Redmond-based company will make the ThreadX RTOS available as an option for real time processing requirements on Azure Sphere devices and enable ThreadX-powered devices to connect to Azure IoT edge devices, as required.
George added: “Our primary goal is to simplify IoT, from the cloud all the way down to the smallest MCU based devices. We do this by meeting our customers where they are with the right developer tools, software and intelligent cloud services to manage their solutions at scale.
“Express Logic’s technology and team will be an incredible addition to Microsoft in our quest to give every customer the ability to transform their businesses, and the world at large, with connected solutions.”
William Lamie, chief executive at Express Logic, said: “The significant growth of the IoT provides exciting new opportunities for our customers and the embedded market overall. Now as part of Microsoft, we believe our customers will be even better positioned to unlock exciting new capabilities of the IoT.”
Samuel Hale, MachNation analyst and head of IoT platform testing, commented: “An RTOS is used to virtually guarantee that certain actions can happen on IoT devices within defined time limits. An RTOS is useful on devices like pacemakers, car airbags, and other mission-critical devices where you want almost 100 per cent guarantee that an action will happen and be supported within a very small time window.”
MachNation reckons Microsoft will incorporate the ability to manage these new RTOS-equipped devices using the device management capabilities of Microsoft Azure IoT over the next 12-18 months.
Microsoft quoted statistics from Gartner in its release, that there will be more than 20 billion connected devices by 2020. Microsoft claims its Azure IoT platform is already supporting “thousands of devices, at scale, and the number of devices supported has grown nearly 150 percent year-over-year”.
It has signed customers including Starbucks, Chevron, Walmart, Walgreens, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota Material Handling Group in the past year.
A year ago, it announced a $5 billion investment package for its IoT and edge computing activity. “From the intelligent cloud to the intelligent edge, this year has been one of tremendous growth – in IoT technology portfolio, partner ecosystem and customer momentum – and we are only just beginning,” said White.
She added: “We are one year into our four-year investment. Our priority over the next three years is clear: make it easy for any company to create scalable, secured IoT solutions.”
Microsoft has IoT partnerships with DJI, SAP, PTC, Qualcomm and Carnegie Mellon University for IoT and edge app development.