Five things you need to know about General Electric's IoT cloud platform
General Electric has been making noise about its role in the fast-growing 'industrial internet of things' market for some time. Today it furthered its ambitions with the unveiling of a public cloud service based on its Predix data analytics platform. See also: 12 best uses of IoT in the enterprise.
The aim of the Predix Cloud launch is to help organisations in industries such as aviation, healthcare, energy and transportation deal with the vast amounts of data being generated as sensors are attached to everything from medical equipment to aircraft engines - what is known as the industrial internet of things.
To this end, the platform as a service (Paas) will support the development of apps that can use real-time operational data to provide insight for better and faster decision-making.
And should the fourth largest company achieve its ambitions with Predix, it will have repercussions for both the IoT and cloud markets.
Here are the major points to keep in mind about GE’s Predix cloud launch:
GE hopes Predix Cloud will bolster its position in the fast growing industrial IoT market
More than 50 billion machines will be connected to the internet by 2020, according to GE, and it plans to grab a large share of the enterprise investment in analytics as this growth occurs.
The firm saw $4 billion in software revenues last year, and it expects this to reach $6 billion in 2015, with its Predix platform - already used by a number of customers - helping drive this.
GE has been trying to position itself as a major player in the burgeoning IoT market for a while now, and has made some interesting investments to this end. This includes a $105 million investment in Pivotal, a joint venture between EMC and VMware to provide cloud-based data analytics.
GE said that Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry will be used to help with application development, deployment and operations.
It aims to create an app store for the 'industrial internet of things'
GE says Predix Cloud will focus on providing a platform for developers to “unlock an industrial app economy that delivers more value to machines, fleets and factories”. This means supporting collaboration between a community of developers, providing the technology to build and deploy apps in a secure environment.
Developers will “have visibility into their operating environments and every actor connected to it”, and will be able to deploy and monitor machine apps wherever and whenever they need.
It could create a challenge for AWS and other public cloud providers
Amazon Web Services has typically dominated the infrastructure as a service market, and others such as Microsoft’s Azure have been targeting data-hungry IoT applications. But by targeting the manufacturing and industry sector, GE could carve out a strong niche as the “world's first and only cloud solution designed specifically for industrial data and analytics”.
There is likely to be plenty of investment the area in future. As IoT continues to take hold, GE claims that investment in the infrastructure will swell to $60 trillion in the next five years.
Whether it can transform itself into a full on cloud provider remains to be seen however.
It will make it easier for firms to make sense of huge volumes of IoT data
GE said that the Predix Cloud will enable operators to use machine data faster and more efficiently, claiming this will save firms “billions of dollars annually”.
By combining growing information technology (IT) expertise with knowledge of operational technology (OT) deliver asset connectivity, GE claims its cloud service will offer advanced tools like asset connectivity, machine data support and industrial-grade security and compliance, it says.
Harel Kodesh, general manager of Predix at GE Software commented that Predix is a cloud "built exclusively to capture and analyse machine data will make unforeseen problems and missed opportunities increasingly a complication of the past”.
Cloud service will be a target for hackers
However, the clearest risk is around security.
GE has been keen to talk up its security credentials. And this will be a major point for the firm: as a repository of industrial sensor data, the Predix Cloud will be treasure trove of sensitive information that is likely to attract hackers.
With this in mind, GE has pointed out that its cloud was designed with advanced security protocols, including customised, adaptive security solutions for industrial operators and developers.
The cloud will be part of a 'gated community', GE says. This means that occupiers of its multi-tenant platform will only be from the industrial industry sectors.