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August 5, 2015

GE Predix big future with dedicated Industrial Internet

Company will utilise the Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform technology.

By James Nunns

GE is entering the Cloud market with a service that is aimed at industrial data and analytics.

The Platform as a Service offering will capture and analyse the velocity and variety of machine data in what it is calling an industrial-strength cloud environment.

Predix Cloud is aimed at driving growth of the Industrial Internet and the company hopes it will also enable developers to quickly create, deploy and manage applications and services for the industry.

GE has a lot of making up to do in the cloud and analytics market and will be competing almost directly with a number of companies that already have solutions in this space, such as IBM and Accenture.

Looking to capitalise on the industrial Internet of Things, the company wants to get hold of the data from jet engines, cars, manufacturing machinery and oil well gear.

Matt Davies, Head of Marketing, EMEA, Splunk, told CBR: "The internet of things and the important area of industrial data lends itself to cloud computing very well. The dynamic nature of the workloads generated by IoT and the need to scale up and down to meet the demands of the data generated by IoT suit the cloud deployment model very well.

"It is very exciting to see an IoT focused cloud solution and I think what will be key to GE’s Predix Cloud will be unlocking the value of IoT and industrial data for a wide range of audiences and users.

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"This could include end user analytics for customer service, data visualisation and real-time reporting for security, quality of service and predictive alerts for engineers through to the right tooling for developers.

Built upon the Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform for application development and deployment, the company has the benefit of being well positioned in the industrial markets.

Looking at GE jet engines for example, the company can look at around 100,000 flights a day, giving the company plenty of data to look deal with and analyse.

Roger Pilc, Chief Innovation Officer, Pitney Bowes, said: "GE knows industrial machines and related data analytics better than anyone, and we look forward to continuing to partner with them on more Industrial Internet solutions."

While the company knows its industrial machines and related data analytics, it may struggle to compete on the software front. Companies such as IBM and Accenture have been providing software for industrial analytics for a number of years.

Splunk, which focuses on machine data with its Enterprise software in the commercial technology market, aims to optimise IT systems as well as being used for risk analysis. It also offers its own cloud solution, so GE is far from alone in this market.

Yefim Natis, vice president and research fellow at Gartner, said: "GE knows the machinery, the industrial side very well but Microsoft, IBM et al understand software a lot more."

One move that will likely strengthen GE’s position is its 10% stake in Pivotal, which it bought for $105 million in 2013. That move will have given it good access to Pivotal’s technology as a source for delivering data analytics and cloud architecture.

The cloud solution is currently going through beta testing in parts of the GE company, but it hopes to roll it out to other corporate groups by the end of the year. It is expected to be available to customers in 2016.

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