GE launches cloud for the industrial Internet

Its Predix Cloud will be available commercially in 2016

General Electric is pitching a cloud service for the Internet of Things market, but its focus is primarily on heavy industries like aviation, healthcare, energy and transportation.

The company said Wednesday that its platform-as-a-service (PaaS), designed for industrial data and analytics, will be based on its Predix platform that will enable companies to develop apps that can use real-time operational data to provide insight for better and faster decision-making.

GE mentioned the capturing and analyzing of time series data from a locomotive with thousands of sensors and the delivery of large object data like a 3D MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) image to a doctor for diagnosis as examples of the kind of machine data its Predix Cloud was purpose-built to store, analyze, and manage in real time.

Japanese Internet and telecommunications company, SoftBank, licensed the Predix platform technology in December last year to develop custom apps for new markets such as shipping and manufacturing.

A number of cloud service providers, including Amazon Web Services and Microsoft's Azure, are targeting the emerging market for IOT services that will collect and analyze data from sensors located in a wide variety of connected equipment and devices. If the connected devices in the consumer world are likely to be fitness-tracking devices and home appliances, in the heavy-industry market these are likely to be sensor-packed jet engines, turbines and hospital equipment.

The kind of industries and applications that the Predix cloud will address will likely be high-sensitive industrial applications that could be ripe targets for security attacks, a point that has not been lost on GE, which said that its cloud was designed with advanced security protocols, including customized, adaptive security solutions for industrial operators and developers.

The Predix cloud is also based on a "gated community" model that limits tenants to those that are part of the industrial ecosystem. Customers will be offered an on-demand, pay-as-you-go pricing mechanism, with the option to scale when required.

The cloud will be available commercially from next year. GE businesses are planning to migrate their software and analytics to the Predix cloud in the fourth quarter of this year.

GE has long indicated it would like to be a player in that part of the IOT market that it calls the industrial Internet. In 2013, it invested US$105 million to acquire a 10 percent stake in Pivotal, with the aim of using Pivotal's technology as a source for delivering data analytics and cloud architecture to its customers. It also acquired API Healthcare, a healthcare workforce management software and analytics technology provider, in 2014, to expand its business in providing real-time access to operational data to hospitals.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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