Microsoft and Siemens tackle IoT fragmentation

  • April 24, 2024
  • Steve Rogerson

Siemens and Microsoft are converging the DTDL digital-twin definition language with the W3C Thing Description standard to unlock commercial potential being held back by IoT fragmentation.

The hope is the standardisation will foster collaboration, accelerate innovation and facilitate the exchange of digital-twin models and data.

In a collaborative move with the W3C Consortium, Siemens and Microsoft have announced their commitment to converge DTDL with the Thing Description standard from international standards organisation, W3C.

By unifying both languages, users are offered consistent modelling experiences, mitigating fragmentation in an evolving IoT landscape. With users typically deploying a mix of vendors in their infrastructure leading to lock-in and high integration efforts, this convergence should allow for simpler system integration and interoperability.

As virtual replicas of physical objects, processes or systems that mirror their real-world counterparts in a digital environment, digital twins let organisations monitor, predict and improve the performance of their assets, enhancing efficiency and reducing costs. Standardising digital-twin languages is therefore crucial for interoperability, ensuring seamless communication and integration between different digital-twin systems and platforms.

With Siemens already facilitating the emerging W3C Thing Description standard for future products in building management, power distribution and smart grids, extending this interoperability strategy to Microsoft Azure should bring about benefits.

“We see the convergence of two very similar digital-twin languages like the DTDL and the W3C Thing Description as an essential move that will enable customers to describe the physical world in a way that is agnostic to specific IoT platforms,” said Thomas Kiessling, chief technology officer at Siemens Smart Infrastructure ( “This strategic alliance underscores our commitment to fostering collaboration and embracing openness.”

Microsoft’s DTDL enables modelling of the physical world with Azure services, while the W3C Thing Description standard provides an interoperable representation of device interfaces and their incorporation of standard industry ontologies. Both languages have revealed many conceptual similarities during the initial stages of convergence.

“Ever since we invented the DTDL and open-sourced its specification and reference implementations, we planned to standardise it through a consortium like the W3C,” said Erich Barnstedt from Microsoft ( “Therefore, merging DTDL with W3C Thing Description, in close partnership with Siemens, is the natural next step in our journey to democratise digital twins in the industry.”