In the previous article, we looked at the fundamental premise of connecting IoT devices with Dynamics 365 Field Service. Today let’s have a look at various technology options for enabling this conversation between IoT devices and Dynamics 365. There are essentially three different approaches while working with Azure and Dynamics 365 Field Service:
- Azure IoT Central with Dynamics 365 Field Service
- Azure IoT Hub with Connected Field Service
- Third-party with Dynamics 365 Field Service
Let’s delve into details of each of these approaches for further details:
1. Azure IoT Central with Dynamics 365 Field Service
First thing first, a quick introduction to Azure IoT Central:
Azure IoT Central is cloud-based web application (SaaS) that is capable of (a) connecting with a variety of IoT devices, (b) centrally manage, and (c) provides a mechanism to integrate with business apps
Azure IoT Central also comes with a variety of industry accelerators (open source as well) which further helps in getting an IoT portal up and running pretty quickly. As IoT Central receives signals and alerts from devices, you could define rules (above or below a certain range, for example) and based on those rules, alerts could be sent to Dynamics 365 Field Service using Power Automate flows.
Pros ✅ and Cons ❎:
- Simple architecture ✅
- Short time to market ✅
- Doesn’t require specialised skills ✅
- Customisations are not possible ❎
- Device-level services are not exposed ❎
2. Azure IoT Hub with Connected Field Service
Introducing Azure IoT Hub and Connected Field Service first:
Azure IoT Hub is a full-fledged cloud-based PaaS that connects to both IoT and Edge devices, ensure secure communication channel between cloud and devices, is able to support bi-directional communication with millions of devices and fully integrates with other Azure products like Event Grid, IoT Edge, Stack Hub, Machine Learning etc.
Connected Field Service is a solution that (a) Dynamics 365 model-driven app, (b) Dataverse information structure for IoT devices, alerts etc., and (c) a capability to integrate with Azure IoT Central and Azure IoT Hub.
Connected Field Service provides a mechanism to setup Azure IoT Hub and related products (e.g. Azure Logic Apps to communicate with Dynamics 365, Azure App Services etc.) seamlessly using a wizard. This solution stack serves as a powerful platform for integrating and listening to millions of devices securely, communicate two-way, ensure device-level authentication, and tight coupling with business rules in Dynamics 365.
Pros ✅ and Cons ❎:
- Powerful customisation options ✅
- Device-level controls ✅
- Supports a variety of protocols and SDK for major languages ✅
- Cost can be fine-tuned based on consumption ❎
- Requires specialised skills to setup and monitor ❎
3. Third Party with Dynamics 365 Field Service
Thanks to Azure and Power Automate, any third party IoT SaaS or PaaS solution can send IoT alerts or receive commands from Dynamics 365 Field Service and Connected Field Service. The benefits of integrating a third-party IoT system with business applications are many: from end-to-end business coverage to bringing the element of proactivity (versus reactivity) in services portfolio. There are numerous examples of Dynamics 365 Field Service ingesting devices data through Azure or sending commands based on business rules.
This concludes the overview of various technology approaches that are available for IoT devices to talk to Dynamics 365 Field Service. The next article in this series will be hands-on walkthrough of the first approach.
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