General Electric is placing a large bet on the “Internet of Things,” announcing Wednesday that it plans to launch a cloud-based service for industrial customers.
The Predix Cloud service, which GE billed as “the world’s first and only cloud solution designed specifically for industrial data and analytics,” will connect sensors on industrial machinery to remote computing centers where the data will be processed and analyzed.
“We think it will change the industrial world,” William Ruh, the head of GE’s software business, told The New York Times. “We’re talking about where an industrial company goes to get its applications.”
The service, which is in beta test in parts of GE, will be rolled out to other corporate groups by year’s end and to outside customers in 2016.
According to Fortune, GE is aiming to be the first to market with cloud computing services built especially for industrial jobs, not consumer and general-purpose IT applications. Predix Cloud is built upon GE’s Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform for application development and deployment.
But Fortune noted that GE certainly won’t have the Industrial Internet market to itself, as Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and other software developers compete for their share.
“GE knows the machinery, the industrial side very well but Microsoft, IBM et al. understand software a lot more,” Gartner vice president and research fellow Yefim Natis said.
“While the company has undeniable insights into how the industrial world works, its efforts in computing pale in comparison with IBM, which is increasingly targeting fields like health care and industrial operations, long the domain of GE,” The Times said.
GE company plans to spend about $500 million annually building its Internet of Things business and hopes Predix Cloud will be used by both customers and competitors, along with independent software developers.
“We can take sensor data from anybody, though it’s optimized for our own products,” Ruh said.