General Electric (GE) is working on a cloud service designed for industrial customers to help them make better use of data gleaned from machines.
GE describes the Predix Cloud as the world's first cloud specifically tailored for industrial data and analytics and delivered in the form of a platform-as-a-service that allows industrial companies to build data-powered apps and services.
Predix Cloud will enable companies to use machine data in a faster and more efficient way, according to GE, by offering a scalable cloud that can handle many types of data, from simple sensors to 3D images from MRI scans.
GE claimed that this flexibility to handle varied data sources in real time and at high volume and speed cannot be achieved with consumer-grade clouds.
Harel Kodesh, vice president and general manager of Predix at GE Software, explained that Predix Cloud has been built exclusively to capture and analyse machine data, and will allow industrial companies to spot unforeseen problems and efficiency opportunities that they may previously have missed.
"GE's Predix Cloud will unlock an industrial app economy that delivers more value to machines, fleets and factories, and enable a thriving developer community to collaborate and rapidly deploy industrial applications in a highly protected environment," he added.
Features in the Predix Cloud allow it to tap into machine data, which GE said can save "billions annually".
Connectivity for industrial assets such as sensors, software-defined machines and gateways enables the Prefix Cloud to pull data from myriad sources across an organisation's industrial activity.
Predix Cloud is built around the idea of a gated community. It is designed to support only industrial tenants to ensure that the cloud ecosystem it propagates does not become muddied with users from other sectors.
The gated community feature keeps Predix Cloud safe, GE said, and can work with applications and services running in other cloud environments.
Security, compliance and governance protocols have been baked into Predix Cloud so that data is protected, and services built on top of the platform can be deployed easily without fear of breaching data governance policies in heavily regulated sectors and locations.
The ability to harvest data from industrial activity also enables the Predix Cloud to give internal app developers an insight into their operating environment, and all the assets connected to it, meaning that machine apps can be created and deployed in specific areas.
Making a play into the cloud platform area, even with an industrial focus, is a big move for GE, and could see the firm bumping heads with the likes of Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.
Author's view: Predix Cloud is an interesting move by GE. Once a traditional electronics and engineering company, GE appears to be taking its expertise in a wide range of industries and applying it to digital-era technology.
We will have to wait to see whether GE can pull off being a cloud platform provider to sectors that are very heavily based around physical rather than digital activity, and are subject to rigorous regulation.
The features in Predix Cloud indicate that GE is ready to adopt these challenges, but the next steps will be to encourage its use.
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