Microsoft and General Electric are looking to help cloud-connected enterprise customers build and run services for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), in a bid to create an IoT platform of choice for the post-smartphone world.
Specifically, General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) is connecting its Predix Industrial Internet cloud-based operating system to Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Azure cloud platform. This means that customers will be able to build and run IoT apps that can pull data from sensors and industrial equipment connected to the cloud via the Predix system, while drawing on artificial intelligence (AI), speech recognition and data visualization capabilities within the Azure platform. (See Microsoft Gets Deeper Into IoT.)
GE says that the industrial IoT hook-up will help bring together the tangled spiderweb of different IoT platforms. "This is a game changer for this industry that will drive consolidation of platforms on the Internet of Things," says Abhi Kunté, global head of technology strategic alliances at GE Digital, in a statement.
Microsoft, meanwhile, says that this is just the start of an industrial partnership with GE. The pair plans to integrate Predix with Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite along with Microsoft business applications, such as Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Power BI, in order to connect industrial data with business processes and analytics.
"Every industry and every company around the world is being transformed by digital technology," said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. "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."
Becoming a major IIoT cloud development platform is an ambitious undertaking, but it could deliver massive rewards too. GE believes that by 2020, more than 20 billion devices will be connected to the Industrial Internet. (See Jabil Leverages Cloud to Improve Manufacturing .)
Microsoft notes, however, that Azure offers Predix customers access to the largest cloud footprint available today. A developer preview will be released toward the end of 2016, and Predix on Azure will be commercially available by the second quarter of 2017.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading