Samsung's Artik Cloud to challenge Microsoft's Azure in IoT

Samsung's service for businesses will support a wide range of devices and third-party cloud services

Samsung and Microsoft have crossed paths in the smartphone and tablet markets, and will now do battle in the cloud.

Samsung has announced the Artik Cloud service for businesses, which the company hopes will give it a strong position in the emerging Internet of Things market. In IoT, it will take on Cloud services like Microsoft's Azure and IBM's Bluemix.

Simply put, the Artik Cloud provides the tools needed for companies to securely collect, store and analyze telemetry data collected from a wide range of sensors.

The cloud service also provides software tools and connectors to link IoT data to other cloud services or silos of data that companies may have in server installations or outside sources.

Artik Cloud was announced at the Samsung Developer Conference taking place in San Francisco this week. The service is designed to help businesses deploy Internet of Things products and services quickly, the company said.

The new cloud service is one way Samsung hopes to tap into the fast-growing Internet of Things market, which is also being targeted by top companies like Microsoft, IBM and Intel. Gartner is forecasting that 6.4 billion connected devices will be used worldwide in 2016, climbing to 20.8 billion by 2020.

The service is part of a family of Artik hardware and software products. Samsung is selling Artik developer boards to make gadgets, drones, robots, wearables and home and industrial automation products.

Microsoft's Azure cloud service, meanwhile, has connectors to the Raspberry Pi 3. Samsung offers SAMI, a basic IoT cloud service for developers, and the SmartThings service to control home devices.

But Samsung's strength is in hardware, and it doesn't have the software muscle of Microsoft. So the answer was to provide an open cloud service to which IoT hardware and services can be easily added and linked.

Artik Cloud is free for hobbyists who have limited needs, but has different tiers of pricing for businesses, reaching up to $6 per device per month for a maximum of 100,000 messages. Samsung will also provide custom quotes for large IoT installations.

Artik Cloud will support a wide range of IoT and sensor devices, and provide plug-ins to support different hardware, programs and OSes, said Curtis Sasaki, vice president of ecosystems at Samsung.

For starters, the cloud service will work with Amazon Echo, FitBit, Gear smartwatches, Nest thermostats and various popular wearables. Even Raspberry Pi-developed gadgets and third-party data analysis services will be able to connect to Artik Cloud.

It will also work with Web services like Twitter and Instagram. It'll connect to home automation systems based on the simple IFTTT (If This Then That) Web service, which helps smart home devices operate on auto-pilot based on conditions and action triggers.

The goal behind Artik Cloud is to break the walls between silos that exist today between services, devices and applications, Sasaki said.

"We've made it easy to connect devices and apps," said Sasaki, who called Artik Cloud an "open-data exchange platform."

Legrand, an electrical installation company, will use the Artik Cloud to manage lighting products in building infrastructures. It will plug its own cloud service to Artik Cloud, and that will help manage smart lighting products, Sasaki said.

The service will have data visualization, device management tools, analytics capabilities and software development kits. Samsung has resolved the challenge of handshaking data sources like sensors and and third-party cloud services to Artik Cloud with a wide range of plug-ins and open APIs (application programming interfaces). The company plans to build support for more hardware and cloud connectors for transparent data exchanges.

Samsung is also working with companies to provide analytics, security and other services through Artik Cloud.

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Tags cloud computingMicrosoftintelservicesIBMplatformssamsungazureInternet of ThingsIoTBluemixSamsung Developer ConferenceArtik

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