Microsoft has entered into a broad strategic collaboration with General Electric (GE) that will see GE's Predix platform-as-a-service for industrial Internet of Things (IoT) applications made available on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.
Announced at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, the move will make it easier for industrial firms to build and operate solutions to gather data from industrial assets and analyse it to deliver benefits such as predictive maintenance and greater operational efficiency.
A developer preview of Predix on Azure will be available towards the end of 2016, according to Microsoft, while a full commercial release is planned for the second quarter of 2017.
Predix is based on Pivotal's Cloud Foundry developer platform, and was created specifically to provide the industrial sector with a secure cloud environment for capturing and analysing data for analytics.
Predix on Azure will give such firms a global platform for hosting IoT applications, while Azure also offers a wealth of other cloud-based services that they can tap into.
"Connecting industrial machines to the internet through the cloud is a huge step toward simplifying business processes and reimagining how work gets done," said GE chief executive Jeff Immelt.
"GE is helping its customers extract value from the vast quantities of data coming out of those machines, and is building an ecosystem of industry-leading partners like Microsoft that will allow the industrial internet to thrive on a global scale."
GE explained that the Predix platform is already helping industrial customers to build and operate industrial applications. Bringing Predix to Azure means the same customers will now have access to additional capabilities, such as natural language technology, artificial intelligence, advanced data visualisation and enterprise application integration.
For example, a factory using GE's Asset Performance Management software will be able to integrate more easily with systems such as supply chain management and product lifecycle management apps that run on Azure.
The two firms plan to integrate Predix with Microsoft's Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite, plus business applications such as Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Power BI, to connect industrial data with business processes and analytics.
"Working with companies like GE, we can reach a new set of customers to help them accelerate their transformation across every line of business from the factory floor to smart buildings," said Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella.
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