“Azure Maps is a new set of Cloud services from Microsoft that is really targeted at developers like Bentley; you could say Bing Maps is more of a consumer service,” says Shakib. “Azure Maps initially did just some of the same things we’ve been doing for many years. However, Azure maps brings in additional services that we didn’t have access to before that we can envision leveraging as part of, for instance, applications for city planners, where now your maps now can bring in transit data, bring in weather data, bring in things that developers didn’t have ready access to before.”
King says, “I don’t want to say it is a replacement for Bing Maps. I think every application at Bentley that uses Bing Maps today will simply have another option to use Azure Maps. One of the things that we’re really excited about in Azure Maps is the private maps, because many of the large infrastructure players, want to be able to have a very sophisticated mapping capability, wherever they are around the globe, but when it gets into their private facilities, they want to keep that data private and for themselves.”
“We have all these powerful partnerships that also bring satellite data, weather information, transit information, and more,” adds Shakib. “And we bring this blended all together in a very comprehensive way and keep the public piece public and the private piece private. So, it is really a win-win situation. It is a unique capability, that together with Bentley, we can now offer to our customers.”
When it comes to the Bentley integrations, this speaks directly to Digital Twins, like for a utility, having sensor data, like SCADA, as real-time feedback for the twin. But what does Microsoft’s IoT and IoT Edge provide beyond pushing raw observation data into the Bentley product?
“IoT, at the end of the day is all about global connectivity, and management of potentially thousands of devices in a very secure fashion, and ingesting the data from them,” says Shakib. “What Bentley has done with IoT Hub and IoT Edge is effectively an elastic hybrid architecture, to be able to connect to all these things in the Cloud. We make it very easy for them, where all the sophisticated workloads, or AI algorithms, or scoring algorithms can be developed in the Cloud — with unlimited compute and storage.”
“The second layer is really this whole concept of Azure Digital Twins, which is very sophisticated,” says King. “The Azure Digital Twins knowledge graph, allows us to not only manage all these entities, but every one of these edge devices, from which we can create this relational graph.” Shakib adds. “That has the relationship between devices, people and the environment, and the things they are changing, in real time. This makes it a lot easier for upper layer applications, such as Bentley, to be able to do real time simulations and algorithmic work. These layers, we have pre-integrated together as part of the end-product that the customer gets. It is very flexible. We can run on this distributed, virtual architecture, and on the edge, whether it’s a 5G edge, whether it’s a thin edge or thick edge, or anything that you want to do in the Cloud.”