Microsoft has acquired software company Express Logic to help it expand its Azure IoT platform. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition is part of the company’s wider push to leverage its cloud business in the growing field of IoT services.
Express Logic, which has been in business for 23 years, focuses on real time operating systems (RTOS) for microcontroller units (MCUs) powering IoT and edge devices, as well as middleware and development tools for embedded systems. Express Logic’s ThreadX RTOS has over 6.2 billion deployments, with a presence in devices ranging from consumer electronics to medical devices and space assets.
“This widespread popularity is driven by demand for technology to support resource constrained environments, especially those that require safety and security,” Sam George, director of Azure IoT at Microsoft, said in a blog post about the acquisition. “Manufacturers building products across a range of categories–from low capacity sensors like lightbulbs and temperature gauges to air conditioners, medical devices, and network appliances–leverage the size, safety and security benefits of Express Logic solutions to achieve faster time to market.”
The acquisition will give Microsoft’s Azure public cloud platform access to billions of new connected endpoints, George said, and will help grow the number of devices that can seamlessly connect to Azure and enable new intelligent capabilities. Express Logic’s ThreadX product can operate on highly constrained, battery-powered devices that have less than 64KB of flash memory.
Microsoft has its own secure IoT OS offering, called Azure Sphere, but George said the acquisition is complementary to that product. Microsoft will continue to recommend its Sphere product as the most secure way for customers to connect to the cloud, but George admitted that Azure cannot operate in the same environments that Express Logic’s ThreadX can.
“Where Azure Sphere isn’t possible in highly constrained devices, we recommend Express Logic’s ThreadX RTOS over other RTOS options in the industry,” George said.
Microsoft will make ThreadX available to customers as an option for real time processing requirements on an Azure Sphere device. It will also enable ThreadX-powered devices to connect to Azure IoT edge devices.
Microsoft announced in April 2018 that it would invest some $5 billion into its IoT and intelligent edge business over the next four years. At the same time, the company reorganized itself to focus more on cloud services and edge computing. “We’re now seeing the kind of increased adoption and exponential growth that analysts have been forecasting for years,” Julia White, CVP of Microsoft Azure, said in a release last year. “We will continue research and development in key areas, including securing IoT, creating development tools and intelligent services for IoT and the edge, and investments to grow our partner ecosystem.”