Microsoft has opened its checkbook once again to buy Solair, a five-year-old company specializing in connecting devices in workplace settings. Solair already relied on the Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure.
Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Solair, based outside of Bologna, Italy, has some cool applications. For example, its technology can connect one company’s espresso machines so they can be remotely monitored no matter where they are. If you think about that in a Starbucks context, you can see how that might be helpful and could save big bucks in diagnostics and maintenance.
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Microsoft (MSFT), like Amazon (AMZN), IBM (IBM), Cisco, LogMeIn (LOGM), and virtually every other tech company sees huge opportunity powering billions of connected devices and analyzing the data aggregated in the process. Remote diagnostics can help companies fix gear before it fails for example, saving downtime as well as other wear and tear both on machines and personnel.
To get a glimpse into the potential market size, which has many vendors in a frenzy, research firm Gartner estimated that the number of connected gadgets will grow from 6.4 billion this year to 20.8 billion in 2020.
That means there will be demand not only for a ton of the hardware devices themselves, but also demand for ways to link them between data aggregation spots (e.g. clouds) where that data can be collected and massaged.