First look: The Things Network new Azure IoT Hub integration

Right from the start back in 2015, The Things Network supported connecting their LoraWan backend platform to other (cloud) platforms.

Connecting to the Azure cloud was no exception to this.

There was no default integration but the support for the MQTT protocol opened this door. Back then, I already blogged about using MQTT to connect. Based on that logic, bridges appeared for both uplink and downlink messages.

Later on, Microsoft also introduced the secure and flexible IoT Central bridge to connect to The Things Network, based on uplink support for webhooks.

Still, even with the new V3 portal of The Things Network, this integration was still based on either the Webhook integration or the original V3 MQTT interface.

All these techniques require an extra layer of logic between the two clouds.

But…

Finally, a native Azure IoT Hub integration has been made available:

The main features of the Azure IoT Hub Integration are:

  • Devices only need to be registered in the Azure IoT Hub. The related TTN application device registrations are kept in sync by TTN. Just use IoT Hub Device Twin tags to control your TTN device registration
  • Uplink messages appear both as telemetry and as Device Twin reported property updates
  • Downlink messages are sent using the Device Twin desired properties

The current documentation is pretty straight forward (although the DPS service logo is shown, it’s not part of the standard solution).

Let’s check out how this integration works and let’s dive deeper into this solution architecture.

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Azure IoT DeviceClient SDK demonstration, the basics

The cloud gateway of Azure IoT offers multiple protocols to connect to:

Programming all D2C and C2D communication yourself is pretty hard. Microsoft has made it easy to communicate by providing SDKs, both for device communication and IoT Hub manipulation.

In this blog, we dive into what is offered by the Device SDKs.

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How to tag your IoT Hub Devices

Until now, device twin tags were a bit lame.

Yes, desired and reported properties were much more fun to play with.

But those of you who administer thousands of Azure IoT devices, you really appreciate tags. It’s the only way to control that large amount of devices without losing your head.

Why? Because you first query your devices and then execute jobs on these subsets.

And Microsoft is making use of this feature a lot. You will have to use tags if you want to execute IoT Edge deployments (still in preview) or if you want to use the recently added Automatic Device Management (even newer):

But how do you actually add or alter tags of devices? What tooling is Microsoft providing?

Let’s check out a number of ways to tag and start querying your devices.

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