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GE partners with Amazon for 'industrial internet'

Proprietary cloud for the internet of things, with help from Accenture and Pivotal

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GE has announced a cloud-based analytics platform for net-connected devices as the manufacturing giant tries to forge a set of technologies for what it terms "the industrial internet".

The company has partnered with three major tech companies – Amazon, Accenture, and Pivotal – to help it build a platform for storing and analyzing data generated by its industrial equipment, GE announced at a press event in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Though the industrial giant used the phrase "industrial internet," which to a lay person would indicate some kind of open system based on a few standards, this is not the case: the technology is a proprietary platform for GE customers that uses some open source tech such as Hadoop and Cloud Foundry. The company hopes to develop standards for collaborating with other cloud in the future.

The GE platform is based on Amazon Web Services' hulking infrastructure cloud, and uses technologies from VMware-spinoff Pivotal, of which GE is a major investor, alongside analytics technologies co-developed with Accenture for specific industries.

"It's optimized to deal with this machine data which occurs at a velocity that's much faster than what you've seen on the consumer side – it has a variety that's entirely different," GE's head of global software, Bill Ruh, said at the event.

The set of services and technologies being developed by GE for this "industrial internet" are meant to underpin the data processing infrastructure for all of its connected devices, whether those be turbines, jet engines, or other instrumented equipment made by GE.

One such technology is "Proficy Historian HD", which is a Hadoop platform developed by GE for analysing large sets of time-series data generated by industrial devices. This lets GE customers access the company's "industrial internet" through a service layer that allows them to analyze performance of their devices.

Though GE portrays its techology as "the first big data and analytics platform robust enough to manage the data produced by large-scale, industrial machines in the cloud," this is a doubtful claim – German industrial giant Siemens offers similar remote monitoring and analysis systems for some of its SCADA technology, and many utility companies use cloud-based infrastructures to analyse the data generated by their grids.

"Public clouds are going to play a very important part in delivery of this capability," Ruh said, describing Amazon as "the best" public cloud available for GE's needs.

GE's decision to use Amazon as the basis for its "industrial cloud" is another significant milestone for Bezos & Co's cloud computing platform, and comes at a time when the US's own spooks, the CIA, are considering use of the platform instead of IBM. ®

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