Microsoft retires Azure IoT Central retirement announcement

And fails to clear up end-of-life debacle

Microsoft has now admitted that its recent announcement about retiring a key plank of its Azure IoT platform was a mistake.

In a blog published on February 16, a day after The Register broke the news that Redmond planned to end the Azure IoT Central service – a platform within the Azure IoT stack – in 2027, Microsoft said the announcement "was presented in error."

The original post on the Azure console on February 14 said that from April this year, developers "won't be able to create new application resources" on the IoT Central platform.

"However, all existing IoT Central applications will continue to function and be managed. Subscription {{subscriptionId} is not allowed to create new applications," said the statement to customers, seen by The Register.

In his blog post from the end of last week, Kam VedBrat, general and head of product for Microsoft's digital operations portfolio, including Azure IoT, Azure Digital Twins, and Windows IoT, said: "This message is not accurate and was presented in error."

Having made the admission, the Microsoft director pointedly failed to apologize or, more tellingly, clarify the future for developers already deploying on IoT Central, an IoT application platform as a service (aPaaS) designed to reduce work and costs while building, managing, and maintaining IoT solutions.

Microsoft's Azure IoT platform includes three pillars: IoT Hub, IoT Edge, and IoT Central. Azure IoT Central is a layer above IoT Hub, which is a cloud-based service offering a "secure and scalable way to connect, monitor, and manage IoT devices and sensors," according to Microsoft.

Instead of taking the opportunity to clear up the situation and assure IoT Central developers that their future is safe in Microsoft's hands, VedBrat chose to obfuscate.

Firstly, he let his blog readers know how Microsoft should announce the retirement of any Azure platform or service. Apparently, it should have used the "standard Azure service notification process including a notification period of 3 years before discontinuing support."

With developers no doubt assured on that point, he went on to miss the opportunity to give them a clear message about the future of IoT Central once again. No – VedBrat clearly saw his chance to shine. He let the world know about the coming product pipeline that includes Azure IoT Operations, available in public preview.

"Azure IoT Operations is designed to simplify and accelerate the development and deployment of IoT solutions, while giving you more control over your IoT devices and data," he told developers, who were no doubt wondering what a product that was yet to be properly released had to do with the end-of-life of a platform on which they were already building.

"We appreciate your trust and loyalty and look forward to continuing to serve you with our IoT platform offerings," VedBrat ended his hopefully brief foray into public relations.

On that point, The Register contacted Microsoft's PR representatives to see if they could shed any light on the matter. They refused, pointing only towards VedBrat's blog.

One IoT industry insider told us that if a company has already developed on Microsoft IoT Central, the cost of Microsoft retiring the platform could be huge in lost development costs, and risking systems already in production.

The insider also pointed out that vendors struggle to produce value for organizations developing and deploying IoT applications. While the industry underestimated the scale of the challenge in connecting thousands of sensors, each of which could generate 86,400 values per day, it also failed to form a commercial model that worked for everyone. Vendors were focused only on owning the platform and were reluctant to build applications on anyone else's, creating a stalemate, the insider said.

So the next time Microsoft tells customers it is killing a product, for God's sake, don't take them at their own word. ®

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