Last week’s Cloud Foundry Summit was one of those landmark moments in technology, where you can just see an idea taking root. More than 1,300 technologists came to talk about Cloud Foundry, the open source platform that is such a vital part of what we’re doing with Predix.

Sam Ramji, CEO of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, summed it up when he said, “Cloud Foundry is trying to enable continuous innovation.” So many folks hit that very point: Developers are using Cloud Foundry to build apps in a fraction of the time it used to take. What once took months to develop now happens in weeks, or even days.

GE is a big part of that success story. I gave a keynote address at the Summit, and gave the example that GE Aviation generates 50 petabytes of information a day, and now we can ingest data at that rate.

I also spoke about how Cloud Foundry is such an important part of the suite of tools enabling us to deliver Predix as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) technology. GE is using the PaaS to build Predix as its own cloud-based platform, and the open nature lets developers build apps easily.

I was ready to hear some skepticism from the developers at the conference. I figured they saw GE’s presence at the Cloud Foundry Summit the way organic farmers might view a crop duster’s presentation. I’m happy to report, however, that GE was welcomed with open arms.

That’s because the developers know that the “Internet of Things,” or IOT, is a growing reality, and not just for communicating toothbrushes. GE’s industrial uses mean we’ll need powerful software for the Industrial Internet. If people talk about the Internet of Things, I think of our effort as the Internet of Really Important Things—jet engines, wind turbines, MRI’s, and power plants.

All of those things have sensors, and they talk day and night, 24/7, and we need to understand what’s going on with them. The Industrial Internet is growing at twice the rate of the consumer Internet, with 20 billion devices generating 80 exabytes of data.

People at the summit lined up at our booth for the GE virtual reality demonstration of what Predix can help a developer build. More importantly, we helped spread the message that this is not your grandfather’s GE. We have internalized Silicon Valley culture, and we’re building software like a fast, lean startup. Developers were fascinated to see how quickly we developed our software business, how far we have come, and how serious we are about it.

Cloud Foundry is an open source cloud computing software, originally developed by EMC’s VMWare. EMC and VMWare spun Cloud Foundry out into its own company, Pivotal Software, and GE is a major investor in Pivotal.

Cloud Foundry has come a long way in just a couple of years, and the packed meeting rooms at the Summit attested to its growth. People now believe in the security and utility of the cloud, and we’re on the verge of seeing a much larger adoption.Information Week, which gave GE’s efforts a nice write-up, talked about Pivotal’s projections that by this time next year, Cloud Foundry should be installed in 20 - 35% of the Fortune 500. We’re leading the way, and we’re in good company; JP Morgan announced it was using Cloud Foundry last week, joining a list that includes Comcast, Verizon, Lockheed Martin, and other large companies.

In sessions at the conference, developers shared notes on new ways they’re using Cloud Foundry’s PaaS to develop applications. Because it’s so lightweight—only the code needs to move, rather than the entire virtual machine—the process is catching fire. Pivotal customers including Garmin, Kroger, Humana, and yours truly, presented case studies demonstrating Cloud Foundry’s utility.

I love that GE is part of this trend. One important point that I stressed is that the Industrial Internet is so big, even a huge company like GE can’t take it on by itself. We are working collaboratively with other companies, sharing resources in the spirit of the open source software movement, and in the process, making great things possible. 

About the author

Harel Kodesh

Vice President, Predix, and Chief Technology Officer, GE Digital

Kodesh joined GE from Nurego, where he served as chief executive officer and founder. Prior to starting Nurego in 2013, Kodesh served as executive vice president of EMC Corp.’s Cloud business and chief executive officer of Mozy, an EMC subsidiary. He also served as chief product officer of Amdocs from 2003 to 2008. He holds a Master of Science in electrical engineering from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel.