GE Advances in the Industrial Internet of Things with Predix Cloud
Sep 14, 2015
GE took a major step towards realizing its ‘Industrial Internet’ dream with the recent announcement of its industrial cloud, Predix. Coined by the company, ‘Industrial Internet’ is the process of convergence of machines with data; industrial engineering with software and analytics. Predix cloud helps achieve exactly this objective by providing a cloud-as-a-service for industrial data analytics.
Predix is an in-house software platform built by GE especially for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). This software solution is tailored to perform machine-generated data analytics and provide deeper insights into manufacturing systems and processes. Though the analytics platform currently runs on Pivotal (GE is a minority stakeholder), it will eventually be hosted on the Predix cloud or any other cloud infrastructure chosen by the customer. Keeping in mind the complexities of data security and proximity to the customer, GE plans to adopt a decentralized data centre approach; setting up Predix cloud spaces in colocation centres across regions rather than building out its own data centre.
Currently in private beta, it is expected to move to public beta in October 2015, before being commercially available in January 2016.
Strategic Investments and Partnerships
Thus far, GE has been running Predix for its internal processes. In 2015, the company opened its platform to the market with the launch of its industrial cloud and Predix App Factory. Predix App Factory encourages customized app development by third party developers. This move will provide GE the opportunity to capture revenue and market share by expanding its platform footprint across global manufacturing plants.
Since 2012, GE has been at the forefront of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), making heavy investments amounting to over $1 billion on Industrial Internet. In building Predix, GE leverages big data and security expertise from its acquisitions of EMC Pivotal’s big data division and Wurldtech (a cyber-security solution provider).
The company has actively forged partnerships to improve technological expertise as well as gain a dominant position in the market. Many of these partnerships have been with members of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) (of which GE is a founder member), through which it will push mass deployment of its IIoT platform.
GE is developing advanced connectivity solutions to enable Predix through partnerships with AT&T and Verizon. It is working with Cisco to integrate Predix into networking gear. It is also collaborating with Intel to develop edge devices and gateways running Predix. The company is leveraging its position in the IIC to develop an IIoT platform that will dominate over the rest of the market.
GE has a strong advantage over the likes of Google or IBM due to its long-standing experience in the manufacturing industry. However, it will face competition from other vendors who are also pushing their own industrial cloud platforms. For example, Siemens and SAP are collaborating to develop Siemens Cloud for Industry which will also focus on analyzing machine-generated data.
The development of a truly connected plant-floor is complicated by the presence of incompatible networks, devices and standards in the market. The market is fostering partnership ecosystems constituting IT and automation providers to ensure efficient deployment of a connected plant-floor. GE and some other industrial cloud providers such as Siemens are increasingly leveraging open source technologies so as to allow customers to customize applications. Despite these efforts, the development of the IIOT is slow, due to lack of clarity regarding implementation and apprehensions about security. Sustained efforts to develop market standards, strengthen security along with customer education are essential to push along the latest industrial revolution.
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