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Industrial Cloud: GE And Microsoft Plan To ‘Go To Market Together’ With IoT Partnership

GE and Microsoft said today that starting Nov. 30, North American customers and developers using Predix, GE’s software platform for the Industrial Internet, will be able to build powerful industrial apps on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud for businesses.

“It’s really two market leaders coming together to accelerate the adoption on the Industrial Internet of Things,” says Kevin Ichhpurani, GE Digital’s executive vice president in charge of ecosystem and channels. “It’s one of the biggest value drivers for customers.”

John Flannery, GE chairman and CEO, and Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, made the announcement at Minds + Machines, GE’s flagship industrial software conference taking place this week in San Francisco. “It’s no longer enough to build machines,” Flannery said. “The company that just builds machines won’t survive.”

Experts estimate productivity gains from connecting jet engines, gas turbines and locomotives to the Industrial Internet of Things and using it to make them work better will add $10 trillion to $15 trillion to global GDP in coming years. “We are bending the productivity curve … [for industrial customers] looking to digitize their products, be it a jet engine or an elevator,” says Kevin Dallas, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of business development for intelligent cloud. He says that the notion of shipping a machine and not being able to communicate with it and gain insight into how it’s being used “is a thing of the past.”

Dallas says that insights delivered by Predix apps built on Azure will allow users to transform products, optimize operations, empower employees and improve communications with customers.

Ichhpurani says that Predix developers will benefit from a network of Azure data centers sprinkled all over the globe. He says that customers can use them to get “instant access,” work with real-time data and build apps without switching between different platforms.

Ichhpurani says that customers have been calling for closer integration with Azure since GE first announced its partnership with Microsoft last year. He says that many companies using Predix are already storing data and running enterprise software from Oracle, SAP and other providers on Azure. “It’s now sitting in the same cloud,” he says.

Dallas says that the solution has “the right connectors that allow you to communicate seamlessly with [Microsoft] Office … as well as existing business applications that may use SAP,” for example. But he says the collaboration between GE and Microsoft extends beyond apps, products and efficient data integration. “This is a very unique element of this partnership,” he says. “Many [GE] customers in oil and gas, transportation, energy and healthcare are Microsoft customers. The intent is to go to market together.”

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