The Internet of Things (IoT) is on a fast track to change pretty much how the entire world operates. The IoT market is seeing a boom by improving the supply chain management to defining the concept of a so-called smart home and everything else in between. Estimates point to an enterprise IoT expenditure of over $520 billion by 2021. It is more than double what it was in 2017.

Also, over a third of all companies are seeing an added 1,000 "shadow IoT" devices attached to their networks. Shadow IoT means that employees are bringing their smart devices to work. Statistics also show that nearly half of businesses already use digital assistants (Amazon Alexa, Google Home, etc.) and smart TVs in the workplace.

The financial, healthcare, manufacturing, and logistics sectors are seeing the most use of IoT integrations. Nevertheless, IT departments across all spheres of business are implementing it into their systems.

Predictive Maintenance

Even though predictive maintenance is usually associated with manufacturing, you can also use it in the data center, such as for hard drive read-write heads. Similarly, machine learning can predict if one or more servers are about to go down. It means that its workload can be relocated in time, while the server is taken offline, repaired or replaced, so there will be no operation interruptions or the risk of data loss.

Reducing Costs

The IoT also benefits businesses by improving their overall energy efficiency. Several years ago, Google began making use of information collected in its data centers to improve energy consumption. It managed to reduce its cooling costs by 40%. Also, expect further improvements as these systems, aided by machine learning, will become even more efficient with additional data. Many other companies, in different industries, can follow in Google's footsteps and use machine learning to lower their energy consumption costs.

Virtual Assistants

Many IoT devices and smart virtual assistants are becoming ubiquitous in the office. And aside from them streamlining how employees navigate the digital environment, they are also helping with the physical one as well. These devices can predict when employees need something, even before they ask. If, for instance, staff members have to pass through an access control mechanism, a wearable smart device could automatically open the door when they walk up to it. These also help improve security.

For some healthcare organizations, for instance, the Weka Smart Fridge will come in handy. This portable IoT-enabled fridge will automate vaccine storage and dosage dispensing. It also includes remote monitoring, ensuring that the vaccines are at the right temperature, as well as inventory tracking.

Improving Conference Rooms

Another means by which IoT helps businesses optimize their processes in the modern workplace is to indicate which conference rooms are available and ready to use. Even if a reservation-style system exists in many organizations, it doesn't guarantee that each of them is in use. So, instead of having employees run around the building looking for a vacant room for an impromptu meeting, IoT devices can recognize which rooms are unoccupied.

Some technologies can measure phone signals or use infrared tools to detect if or how many people are in any area. By using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, companies can also tell who the individual occupants are. Depending on the size of the business or the industry they are in, this implementation could prove quite useful.


While these are only a few examples of how IoT is benefiting businesses in the 21st century, the limitations are set only by one's needs and imagination. If you want to learn more or are looking to leverage these technologies, contact one of our trained specialists. Managed Solution is at your service!


Securing digital transformation through IoT cybersecurity policy

By Paul Nicholas as written on
Around the world, organizations and individuals are experiencing a fundamental shift in their relationship with technology. This transformation, often called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, has been characterized as a fusion of the physical, digital and biological worlds, with far-reaching implications for economies and industries, and even humankind. These changes create new opportunities and challenges for policymakers as traditional governance frameworks and models will have to be reconsidered for a different world.

Graphic entitled "What exactly is the Internet of Things" shows relationship between devices, platform and intelligence

Today, we are releasing a new white paper, Cybersecurity Policy for the Internet of Things, which addresses the critical task of developing cybersecurity policies for IoT. This challenge has particular urgency because the merger of physical and digital domains in IoT can heighten the consequences of cyberattacks. The cybersecurity concerns of IoT user communities — whether consumer, enterprise or government — provide a convenient lens for identifying and exploring IoT security issues. For example, enterprises and governments may identify data integrity as a primary concern, while consumers may be most concerned about protecting personal information. Acknowledging these perspectives is just the start; the real question is what industry and government can do to improve IoT security.
Industry can build security into the development and implementation of IoT devices and infrastructure. However, the number of IoT devices, the scale of their deployments, the heterogeneity of systems and the technical challenges of deployment into new scenarios and potentially unsecured environments require an approach specific to IoT. The IoT ecosystem depends on key players with a diverse range of security capabilities — manufacturers and integrators, developers, deployers and operators — and the paper outlines appropriate security practices for each role.

Graphic shows cycle from building IoT product to maintaining IoT solution

Government can support these efforts through the development of IoT cybersecurity policies and guidelines. As stewards of societal well-being and the public interest, governments are in a unique position to serve as catalysts for the development of IoT security practices, build cross-disciplinary partnerships that encourage public-private collaboration and interagency cooperation, and support initiatives that improve IoT security across borders. There is evidence that this work is well underway, as demonstrated by examples of government initiatives from several countries throughout the paper.
Looking forward, IoT cybersecurity policy will only increase in importance as the world grows more connected and reliant on the efficiencies and opportunities that IoT brings. IoT users and policymakers will face new IoT use cases, including situations where users may not even be aware that they are interacting with a connected device, which will prompt new questions about how to manage security needs alongside opportunities for innovation.
The growth of a secure IoT ecosystem through advancements in technology and policy is important to Microsoft and our customers around the world. We will continue to partner with stakeholders from across the public and private sectors to make this a reality.

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Ensure You Have Enhanced Visibility & Control of Security Within Your Environment


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text css_animation="appear"]Securing productivity, collaboration and enterprise data is critically important as organizations digitally transform. Reduce risk and support compliance requirements. Contact us today to schedule a security assessment.

As a relationship-driven organization, Managed Solution collaborates with you to build scalable technology infrastructures that improve productivity, strengthen culture, and accelerate profitable revenue.

By customizing the perfect mix of software, hardware, and IT services, we deliver a flexible technology solution that evolves and adapts to meet your needs and exceed your expectations at every stage of your business cycle.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Co-Founder Sean Ferrel Talks Mobility and Security on ESPN TV's segment "The American Dream"

President and Co-Founder of Managed Solution, Sean Ferrel, shared his mobility and security insights on ESPN TV's segment "The American Dream" on March 1st at 10:30 AM. In the segment, Ferrel discusses how companies can manage mobile devices and keep data secure.  The Internet of Things (IoT) is making mobility faster and more widespread. Mobile device management is more important now more than ever. With cloud solutions, mobile device management can be simple without compromising any security.



rob-bernard-four-green-tech-predictionsFour Green Tech Predictions for 2017

Written by Rob Bernard as seen on
The end of the calendar year is a traditional time of reflection, of the ups and downs of the past year, and to think about what to expect in 2017. As Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist, I am encouraged by the progress made on some environmental issues in the past year, but there is still much work to be done. Despite the increasing urgency around many environmental issues, I remain optimistic about the future.
Perhaps the most notable breakthrough this past year was that the Paris Agreement on climate change entered into force. Cities, countries and companies around the world are now focusing their efforts on how to set and execute their plans to reduce carbon emissions. We also saw growth in corporate procurement of renewable energy in 2016, both in the U.S. and around the globe, another encouraging sign. At Microsoft, we put forth our own goal to source 50% of our datacenter electricity from wind, solar and hydropower. At the end of this year, we’re happy to report that we are on pace to not only meet our goal, but also are creating new financial and technology models that can further accelerate the pace of the adoption of renewable energy.
As we look towards 2017, I expect that we will see both continued progress on energy and an increasing focus on non-energy areas. As we at Microsoft think about 2017, I think we expect to see some shifts in approaches and investments happening across the world.

1. IoT and Cloud Computing will begin to transform utility energy management:

Aging infrastructure is already under pressure and the addition of more renewable energy will only compound the stress on existing infrastructure. As more clean energy comes online, along with distributed resources like electric vehicles and rooftop solar, utilities are facing a big challenge – how to manage a more complex network of energy creating and energy storing devices.  2017 will see an increased investment by utilities in technology to leverage data, through IoT solutions and cloud computing, to make energy management more predictable, flexible and efficient.
In developing nations, we are seeing a different trend, but one that is also accelerated by IoT and cloud computing. In these markets, data is being used to accelerate distribution, sales and management of micro-solar grids to enable households to get both power and connectivity to the internet. 2017 should be an exciting year with even more growth as capital investments in these markets increase and solar and battery storage prices decline.

2. Water will begin to emerge as the next critical world-scale environmental challenge

Water scarcity is increasing in many areas around the world. Our oceans are under threat from pollution, acidification and warming temperatures. We are already seeing the devastating effects on iconic landmarks like the Great Barrier Reef. And these trends are putting peoples’ food, water, and livelihoods at risk. In 2017, awareness on this challenge will increase. We will begin to better understand what is happening to our water through the use of sensors and cloud computing. Our ability to leverage technologies like advanced mapping technologies and sensors will increase and expand our understanding of what is driving the decline of many of our critical water systems.

3. Data will increasingly be used to try to better understand our planet

Data is essential for monitoring and managing the earth’s resources and fragile ecosystems. There is much we do not understand about the planet, but we see an increasing number of companies and investments flowing toward developing tools and platforms that enable better mapping and understanding of earth’s carbon storage and air borne gasses, and ecosystems and the associated value they provide. We expect to see data being applied more proactively to create a more actionable understanding of how we can better manage food, water, biodiversity and climate change.

4. Organizations and policy makers will start leveraging cloud-based technologies

This area is perhaps the most difficult to try to predict. While countries will begin implementing their action plans under the Paris Agreement, it is not easy to predict the methods each country will use and prioritize to make progress against commitments under the Paris Agreement. And the changes will happen not just at the national level. Increasingly we will see cities and local governments moving ahead with technology implementation to drive efficiencies and accountability, along with policy changes as well. We’re already leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence to better model and understand the potential impact of legislative changes, in addition to offering our technologies to our public sector partners as they work towards their plans. While this will likely take several years to take hold, 2017 should see an increased awareness for the role of technology in environmental policy
While there are many challenges ahead across so many areas of sustainability, I remain optimistic.  The number of people and organizations that are focusing on these and many other areas of sustainability ensure that we will continue to make progress in 2017.  At Microsoft, we are committed to working with our customers and partners to help them achieve more through the use of our technologies. Everyone – companies, countries, individuals – have much work to do. We believe that by working together, we can help develop effective solutions to address environmental challenges that will benefit our business, our customers and the planet. And we are up to the challenge.



How IoT in education is changing the way we learn

Article written by Andrew Meola from

The Internet of Things, the connection of devices (other than standard products such as computers and smartphones) to the Internet, is in the process of transforming numerous areas of our everyday lives. And while it might not seem like an obvious application of the IoT, education is on that list.
The Internet has deeply rooted itself into our schools, and e-learning has become common practice in the American school system. But the applications of the IoT in education are numerous, and the implications for this disruption are tremendous.
The rise of mobile technology and the IoT allows schools to improve the safety of their campuses, keep track of key resources, and enhance access to information. Teachers can even use this technology to create "smart lesson plans," rather than the traditional stoic plans of yesteryear.
Below, we've compiled a list of IoT education examples, including the uses of the IoT in higher education, the future of the Internet in education, and examples of companies that are using the IoT to enter the education space.


IoT in Higher Education

The IoT can begin disrupting the education process as early as kindergarten and can continue to do so through 12th grade, but perhaps the most profound effects occur in higher education.
Students, particularly in college, are increasingly moving away from paper books toward tablets and laptops. With all of the necessary information at their fingertips, students can now learn at their own pace and have a nearly identical educational experience in their homes and in the classroom.
And while this trend provides increased convenience for students, it also makes the teaching process more efficient for professors. The surge in connected technology means that instructors do not need to manually grade tests on paper or perform other routine tasks.
Instead, professors can focus on the actual, personal instruction that is most valuable to their students. Devices connected to the cloud allow professors to gather data on their students and then determine which ones need the most individual attention and care. These statistics also let teachers properly adjust their lesson plans for future classes.
Third grade students study on computers using online learning in the lab at Rocketship SI Se Puede, a charter, public elementary school, on February 18, 2014 in San Jose, California.
Outside of the classroom, universities can use connected devices to monitor their students, staff, and resources and equipment at a reduced operating cost, which saves everyone money. And these tracking capabilities should also lead to safer campuses. For example, students would be able to keep track of connected buses and adjust their schedules accordingly, which would prevent them from spending unnecessary time in potentially dangerous areas.

Future of the Internet in Education

As of 2015, 73% of all U.S. teenagers had access to a smartphone, according to Capterra. Nearly 100% of all U.S. public schools have Internet access. And 70% of middle school students and 75% of high school students use laptops for educational purposes.
With that foundation upon which to build, it's easy to see how the Internet of Things is poised to radically transform education as we know it. Capterra points out that 69% of students want to use their mobile devices more frequently in the classroom, and most of those students want to use them to automate tasks that they already do now, such as note-taking, schedule checking, and research.
As for the schools, the greatest benefits would be increased energy efficiency and reduced operating costs. New Richmond schools in Tipp City, Ohio are saving approximately $128,000 each year by using a web-based system that controls all mechanical equipment inside the buildings.
Furthermore, Greentech Media points out that investment in these "smart schools" usually pays off within two years. And this tech can even be installed into older buildings by attaching smart sensors and other devices to existing control panels.
And the savings continue as schools invest in reusable resources, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones. Capterra notes that an average school spends an average of $30,000 to $50,000 per year just on paper, but reusable tech would completely eliminate that cost.
As more schools adopt this technology, expect to see more "smart schools" pop up throughout the U.S. until they are the standard for American education.


Examples of Companies in the IoT for Education Space

The foremost example of a tech company that has invaded schools is SMART, which pioneered the world's first interactive whiteboard in 1991. SMART boards changed the way teachers and students interacted in the classroom by moving lessons away from the dusty chalkboards that dominated education for decades.
But SMART is far from the only company sinking its hooks into the U.S. school system. IPEVO has also manufactured a wireless interactive whiteboard that serves as an alternative to the SMART board, notes the Huffington Post.
Ideapaint, which creates dry-erase whiteboard paint, dove headlong into the IoT by developing an app called Bounce with the goal of bringing more of the educational experience online.
And IBM has announced that it would invest $3 billion into the IoT over the next few years, and a significant portion of that money will go toward education.


More to Learn

Approximately 50.4 million students will attend public elementary and secondary schools as of Fall 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That's a slight increase from the 50.3 million who attended in Fall 2015.
With figures like those, it's clear that the education system isn't going away anytime soon. And with that emphasis on the importance of education, it's equally important for the Internet of Things to improve the quality of that education.
But education is far from the only area of our lives that the IoT will transform. Transportation, energy, homes, healthcare, and more will all feel the touch of the IoT in the coming years.
That's why BI Intelligence has spent months creating the most exhaustive resource on not just education, but the entire IoT: The Internet of Things: Examining How The IoT Will Affect The World.
To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the IoT universe, choose one of these options:
  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT
The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the fast-moving world of the IoT.



Hands-on-lab IoT Weather Station using Windows 10

As written on

//build: Hands-on-lab WeatherStation

This project is part of Microsoft’s Hack the Home initiative, which provides makers with free, open-source components for effortless interfacing with devices and services that makers use most to hack their homes.

The new Windows.Devices namespace from the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) APIs in Windows 10, enable developers to leverage the power of Windows while interacting with the real world via sensors and actuators.

This project uses the I2C bus and general purpose input/output (GPIO) ports available on the Raspberry Pi 2, to create an internet connected weather station using the SparkFun weather shield.

The instructions provided will give a developer first-hand experience setting up the required hardware along with writing and debugging the newly available Windows 10, UWP Windows.Devices API's. This lab will also demonstrate how to aggregate your data in cloud using the Azure Event Hub, via the easy-to-use ConnectTheDots API.



Pinout Diagram (Raspberry Pi 2 --> Sparkfun weather shield):

  • GND-------(black)------GND
  • 5V----------(red)---------VIN
  • 3V3-------(brown)------5V (shield hack; not a typo)
  • GPIO2-----(yellow)----SDA
  • GPIO3----(orange)----SCL
  • GPIO5-----(green)-----D8
  • GPIO6-----(blue)-------D7


Identify your computer name:

The weather station is actually two applications! What?!?! That's right. The first is a long running (indefinitely, actually) background task that reads the sensors and acts as a weather station server. The second, a UI that makes a request to port 50001 of the server and displays the data. The UI application is universal and can be deployed on any Windows device from the Raspberry Pi 2 all the way to a desktop PC - and anywhere in between!

You need to find the following line in the `Mainpage.xaml.cs` file from the `build2015-weather-station` project, and replace the computer name, "minwinpc", in the URL with the name of your IoT device.

//TODO: On the following line, replace "minwinpc" with the computer name of your IoT device (i.e. "http://:50001").

private Uri weatherUri = new Uri("http://minwinpc:50001");


Enable the "Task List" display


Double-click on any item in the list and jump straight into the source!


Each //TODO: is preceded by comments and HINTS to help you with the missing sections.

Install the weather station application:

Clone the linked repository (using the --recursive flag)

  • select the "lab" branch (default), if you want to learn the new UWP Windows.Devices API's and complete the code yourself
  • select the "master" branch if you want the completed code

Open "WeatherStationWeatherStation.sln" in Visual Studio 2015

Navigate to "WeatherShield.cs" in the "Solution Explorer" pane

If you chose the lab branch, Navigate to “View >> Other Windows >> Task List”, to view the remaining work (depicted above).

You will notice there is quite a bit of detail in the comment to help you complete the task. However, if you still need that extra nudge, there will be a “HINT” provided to remind you to look to nearby code for help (illustrated above).

Once the //TODO:'s have been completed, click the “Debug” menu item, and select “WeatherStation Properties…”

Under the “Debug” tab, in the “Start options” section

  • Select “Remote Device” as “Target device:”
  • Enter the IP address of your Windows IoT Core device in the “Remote machine:” field

Deploy to the Windows IoT Core device

Interface with and/or debug the application:

  • Set a breakpoint in "WeatherStationTask.cs", in the "PopulateWeatherData" function,/li>
  • Step through the individual I2C transactions as they occur


  • Ping the IP address of your Windows IoT Core device on port 50001 in an internet browser window (i.e.

Integrating with ConnectTheDots:



Select the "lab_ConnectTheDots" branch, if you want to learn how to use ConnectTheDots and complete the code yourself

Open "WeatherStationWeatherStation.sln" in Visual Studio 2015

Navigate to "WeatherStationTask.cs" in the "Solution Explorer" pane

Use the "Task List" to jump to each “//TODO:” and write the necessary code

The AppSettings, ConnectTheDotsSensor, and ConnectTheDotsHelper files are all part of the code created to help you use the ConnectTheDots interface to the Azure Event Hub.

AppSettings: Saves the settings for connecting to the Event Hub

This information can be found under your ServiceBus in Azure.

Go to your "*-ns" servicebus instance -> Event Hubs -> ehdevices -> Connection Information -> Look for the SAS "D1"

Copy the connection string which should look like this (It contains information for your AppSettings)


  • service bus namespace (Ex: "iotbuildlab-ns")
  • event hub name (Ex: "ehdevices" - always use this)
  • key name (Ex: "D1")
  • key (Ex: " iQFNbyWTYRBwypMtPmpfJVz+NBgR32YHrQC0ZSvId20=")
  • display name (Ex: "WeatherStation1" - This gives a name to the device data)
  • organization (Ex: "IoT Build Lab" - Change to customize)
  • location (Ex: "USA" - Change to customize)

ConnectTheDotsSensor: Contains the information for a sensor

  • guid
  • display name
  • organization
  • location
  • measure name
  • unit of measure
  • time created
  • value

ConnectTheDotsHelper: Helper functions to initialize the Event Hub

  • establishes the connection
  • creates the authentication tokens
  • If you would like to setup your own Event Hub back-end, follow the instructions in the ConnectTheDots GitHub repository:

    Once you have it deployed, it should start sending data to the event hub and the data should be viewable on or your own website.


Top security trends in IoT

As written on
The continuous connection of smart devices across networks, commonly called the Internet of Things (IoT) is driving a transformation in how enterprises all over the world manage network infrastructure and digital identities.
With such rapid change comes new cybersecurity challenges. Many organizations are hesitant to tap into the power of the IoT due to the complexities and risk associated with managing such a diverse – and sometimes unclear – environment. But it is possible to secure your networks, enhance productivity, and protect customers in this evolving digital landscape.
IoT security doesn’t have to be overwhelming. But it does require a proactive and strategic mindset, and the first step is to understand IoT security trends.


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While vaccines save millions of lives each year and are among the most cost-effective health interventions ever developed, about 1.5 million children die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Some factors that contribute to the availability of vaccines globally include unreliable transportation systems and intermittent storage facilities, which make it difficult to preserve high-quality vaccines that require refrigeration.
But with the use of smart technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), healthcare and medical device companies are improving ways to keep vaccines stored and protected throughout the supply chain. One great example is the Weka Smart Fridge, which enables clinicians in the field to better manage vaccine distribution, helping them save lives.

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“Clinicians in areas of Africa and other regions where power is unstable or inaccessible can use our Smart Fridge to store and dispense vaccines. And the Fridge is small enough that you can put it in a van. So if you can’t bring the people to the vaccine, you can bring the vaccine to the people,” says Alan Lowenstein, COO of Weka Health Solutions.
The Fridge automates vaccine storage and dose dispensing to save time and enhance patient care. It includes remote monitoring services to ensure vaccines are stored at the right temperature, while automatic inventory tracing saves staff time and ensures a reliable vaccine supply. The refrigerator houses each vaccine in its own cartridge, in keeping with required storage protocol by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, access is limited through a small drawer on the front of the Smart Fridge to protect vaccines from temperature change.
The Vaccine Smart Fridge uses an IoT platform that collects real-time data from numerous sensors on every unit to enable 24×7 monitoring and analysis. BlueMetal, the 2016 Microsoft Internet of Things Worldwide Partner of the Year, worked with Weka to develop the IoT-enabled device that keeps vaccines fresh, secured and accounted for. The real-time visualization of vaccine inventory throughout the network enables Weka to understand the vaccination rates at every location. And by using business intelligence capabilities such as those in Azure Machine Learning, organizations can be alerted to upcoming vaccine shortages at specific clinics or in certain areas. For example, if a clinic unexpectedly runs out of a vaccine, the system can let a healthcare worker know there’s a physician’s office a few miles away that has a surplus of that type of vaccine in stock.
Controlled refrigeration and monitoring also helps reduce financial losses. “Physicians generally have $40,000 to $60,000 worth of vaccines in their refrigerators,” says Lowenstein. “If the clinic suffers a power outage or the traditional fridge fails, they risk losing the entire inventory of vaccines.” By using automated processes to manage inventory through IoT sensors, the Fridge can deliver proactive alerts on inventory shortages or changes in temperature.
In addition, Weka estimates that a medical practice that dispenses approximately 400 vaccines per month could reduce human-resource costs by more than $1,000 a month with the Fridge’s monitoring system. This system helps ensure that the first vaccines in the refrigerator are the first that come out, so patients never receive an expired or recalled vaccine, and it reduces the manual task of vaccine management by clinicians.
The Smart Fridge is a great example of how companies can accelerate digital transformation with smart solutions to increase staff efficiency and quality control and automate inventory management. Weka’s Smart Fridge is currently scheduled to go to market at the beginning of 2017.


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