Cradlepoint, Microsoft partner on Internet of Things networking collaboration with Azure IoT Central

The Internet of Things is already about half of Cradlepoint’s business, and this integration, which makes it relatively easy for customers to design IoT applications, will boost that – as well as opportunities for channel partners.

Today, at the IoT Evolution Expo event in Ft. Lauderdale FLA, networking edge vendor Cradlepoint and Microsoft are announcing a new platform integration designed to make it easier for enterprises to quickly build Internet of Things solutions. The integration brings together Cradlepoint’s new NetCloud Edge Connector with Microsoft’s newer Azure IoT Central offering. George Mulhern, Cradlepoint’s CEO, is delivering the kickoff keynote today, and is being joined by Tom Davis, head of Azure IoT Ecosystem & Strategic Partnerships at Microsoft, who will actually announce the new collaboration onstage.

The IoT is a major part of Cradlepoint’s revenues, and has been for years.

“Internet of Things is about half our business,” said Ken Hosac, Cradlepoint’s VP of IoT strategy. “It depends how you define IoT. It includes machines like kiosks and digital signage, services like a card badge reader, and IoT sensors. The IBR 600, which is cloud-managed networking for IoT, has been a significant part of our business since we introduced it eight years ago. We are in every bus in New York City, as well as other major metros. We are in a DVD rental company’s kiosks – over 50,000 of them. These are considered IoT deployments.”

Hosac said that Cradlepoint’s Internet of Things strategy has three core components.

“First we integrate with the top IoT platforms, such as what we are doing here with Microsoft,” he stated. “Second is to offer what is effectively private LTE. There are a lot of applications where WiFi does not cut it, like when you have 300 cameras in a warehouse. IoT security is the third leg of the strategy. Our purchase of Pertino three years ago, which became NetCloud Perimeter, enables IT departments to place IoT devices on a secure private network that is invisible to the outside world.”

The IoT solutions are sold through the same partners that sell Cradlepoint’s WAN offerings.

“When we first launched IoT, we did set up a special channel for this product line –and we wound up morphing it into our regular sales line,” Hosac noted. “Most of our partners do a mixture of branch, vehicle and kiosk business, and most of our deployments are a mix of traditional devices and IoT sensors like cameras.  Branch customers want to do things like put temperature sensors in customer seating areas to monitor customer experience. Police use IoT sensors to detect things like pulling a shotgun out of the rack.”

The Microsoft partnership is a new one for Cradlepoint.

“We haven’t had a deep relationship with Microsoft before this,” Hosac said. “Microsoft has always been a customer of ours, but this is the first real joint Go-to-Market motion we have done together. This is a specific integration with Azure IoT Central, a SaaS-based platform that just hit General Availability in October, which makes it easy to build and deploy IoT applications. NetCloud Edge Connector for Azure IoT Central is the first combination of an IoT platform and a networking solution like Cradlepoint that is targeted at enterprise IT. It really expands our market jointly. Microsoft can’t roll out their platform as effectively without a networking solution. Similarly, we can roll out our IoT platform more effectively with the reach and support capabilities of Microsoft. James Brehm , one of the top IoT analysts in the world, said, when we started talking about this with him, that we were putting the IT in the IoT.”

For customers, Hosac said this collaboration gives them something equivalent to WordPress, the online desktop publishing platform.

“It will make it easy for them to quickly create production-grade IoT applications, without having to get developers involved,” he said. “That’s what’s unique about this.  IT departments often struggle to provide value for their own customers. This gives them the ability to quickly respond to requests, like wanting to put an IP camera on an enterprise network. It gives them the ability to provide that value.”

Hosac said this is a win-win for Cradlepoint and Microsoft channel partners as well.

“It really puts some meat on the bone for channel partners,” he stated. “The solution does require some integration. We get the customer 90-95 per cent of the way there, but there is still 5-10 per cent to customize for specific customers. Channel partners love that.”

Cradlepoint will join the Azure IoT Central partner program, and the two companies will collaborate on marketing the solution to enterprise and public sector customers. NetCloud Edge Connector for Azure IoT Central is scheduled for limited availability in April 2019 for active subscribers of the Cradlepoint NetCloud service

Cradlepoint is a Diamond Sponsor of the IoT Evolution Expo 2019 and is exhibiting at Booth 1604.