End-to-end IoT solutions require a combination of technologies to effectively connect devices and their events, their telemetry, properties and their commands to the cloud. In Azure, there is a set of guidelines for building and connecting devices to the cloud. However, there are in reality almost unlimited options for building and deploying complete IoT cloud solutions. Which technologies and services you’ll use depend on your IoT scenario’s development, deployment, and management needs.  

SaaS, iPaaS or PaaS – that is the question!

You can choose SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) which is essentially an “in-a-box” solution where all functionality comes as a polished service. Typically, SaaS products are built to be multi-customer solutions, which mean that users across different customer organisations share the core computational infrastructure and, in some cases, even the databases. The advantage is that you get economies of scale, and you will typically have a high degree of end-to-end functionality. The downsides are you don’t have the flexibility of customising your version of the service to your future requirements, you are in other words in the mercy of the vendor’s roadmap. Sometimes there can also be unclarities about data control and ownership.

A more flexible but still reasonable polished option is to go for an application-Platform-as-a-Service (aPaaS). In many cases, though, you will find that you still don’t have the full flexibility of customising your future IoT services as the aPaaS in question is operated in the vendor cloud environment by the vendor (e.g. like Microsoft’s IoT Central). You might experience that integration to internal services of the aPaaS can be impossible or at least very cumbersome and that you don’t get to change the building blocks of the aPaaS. That is where integration-Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) comes in:

iPaaS solutions are primarily a suite of cloud services that stimulate data integration flows between the endpoints, which are likely to be executed, governed, and developed. These endpoints can be either the combination of cloud-based processes, applications, services, or data within single or multiple administrations. iPaaS allows applications that reside on the cloud or on-premise to integrate and have data flow freely between them. It does not need any download, it is simply deployed. This is the most balanced offering because it can bring differently hosted software solutions or applications together.” – Gartner.

Now the next step has previously been to design a bespoke IoT cloud solution yourself, probably (and hopefully) on PaaS components. This is the most powerful and flexible way of operating an IoT-solution, however, it is also the most demanding as you need to have in-house competencies to drive the development and operate the solution. Let’s check out how Beacon Tower goes around these different options:

Building an IoT platform with Beacon Tower

Beacon Tower can be utilised either as a SaaS or an integration and development platform that you can subscribe to and adapt to many different development, deployment, integration and business case requirements. Let’s take a closer look on the characteristics of the various options: 


Hosted in Glaze's Azure tenant

Always monitored and automatically updated

Integratable through open APIs and open data models

Accelerator iPaaS

Single instance hosted in Azure tenant of choice

100% integratable with custom systems

100% control of data and platform

Accelerator PaaS

Can be hosted inside a custom developed system

Customisable service architecture

100% control of micro-services

Beacon Tower SaaS

One of the core advantages of Beacon Tower is its flexibility. It can be delivered as a SaaS where we continuously deploy updates and monitor the solution so you as a customer do not have to worry about all the technicalities of operating a powerful IoT solution. As a matter of fact, we can even operate the Beacon Tower SaaS in an Azure subscription of your choice. That way, Beacon Tower SaaS becomes an aPaaS solution dedicated to you, as you have 100% certainty about data, and you know you have complete platform control if you wish to tweak the architecture in the future when moving to the Accelerator option.

Use Beacon Tower Accelerator as an iPaaS

At any time in your Beacon Tower SaaS journey, you can decide to branch out and tweak the architecture to exactly fit your organisation’s needs. We have designed Beacon Tower so, it is a small task to spin up your dedicated Beacon Tower Accelerator application that runs in your Azure environment of choice. We will constantly monitor and update your Beacon Tower Accelerator so that you have your IoT iPaaS running effectively and securely, while you rest assured that you have full control of data and platform, today and in the future.

Use Beacon Tower Accelerator as a PaaS

Using an iPaaS streamlines many of the complex decisions you’ll face when building an IoT solution. Beacon Tower is designed to simplify and accelerate IoT solution assembly and operation by assembling PaaS components into an extensible and fully managed app development platform in an Azure environment of your choice. This takes a lot of the guesswork and complexity out of building reliable, scalable, and secure IoT applications. When developing an enterprise IoT solution on PaaS components you will need to learn all the details about the Azure PaaS components such as IoT Hub, Event Hub, Stream Analytics, Azure Digital Twin, Cosmos DB, Data Explorer, Azure IoT Edge coupled with effective deployment schemes (Infrastructure-as-Code) as well as the underlying security and maintenance technologies (e.g., ADFS, B2C, Containerization, DevOps etc.). You need to take informed choices so probably you try all the alternative PaaS components (and there are many!) and last but not least you will have to understand the cost structures of all alternatives. So, developing a customised IoT platform is not an easy task. Beacon Tower has simplified it for you, and we have done it based on numerous IoT projects and extensive work on comparing alternatives. We are constantly keeping an eye on all the new technologies that are on the horizon, to make sure Beacon Tower always utilises the best technologies.
If you wish, you can always decide to completely customise the architecture of your Beacon Tower Accelerator platform to exactly fit your needs. Of course, that will make updates from our side a case-by-case evaluation, but that will only make your PaaS-platform even more robust and thoroughly designed.

Build powerful and flexible business solutions

So essentially Beacon Tower takes out a lot of the complexity of IoT cloud projects. You can simply start with a cost-effective Proof-of-Concept in which we connect and enroll your edge devices in your Beacon Tower SaaS.
When you have familiarised yourself with the Azure components and the Beacon Tower architecture, we can together build immensely powerful business solutions in a flexible and cost-effective way that gives you full control of data and platform, both for the present and for the future.


More information:

Partner, Flemming von Holck, flemming.von.holck@glaze.dk,  +45 30 66 30 61

Read about the different deployment possibilities within Beacon Tower.