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Hey! You! Get Onto My Cloud: GE Moves Big Machines to the Cloud

Utility bills, electronic airline tickets and medical records already live in massive data centers we’ve come to call “the cloud,” putting them never farther away than our fingertips. But GE said today it would start moving far more complex machine data to the cloud and build the first big data and analytic platform robust enough to manage the torrent of information generated by turbines, jet engines, medical scanners and other technology.

GE has partnered with Amazon Web Services, which pioneered the development of the cloud ‑ and coined its name ‑ to broaden GE’s data software and analytical offerings. GE also expanded its partnerships with Accenture and Pivotal to develop new Industrial Internet services and deploy new high-volume machine data management software based on the powerful Hadoop open-source framework.

Werner Vogels, Amazon’s chief technology officer said that GE’s “domain expertise” combined with Amazon’s global infrastructure, services, and big data expertise “will help enable customers to solve problems in ways we haven’t even imagined yet, such as improved accuracy in healthcare treatments or extreme levels of energy efficiency.” Paul Maritz, Pivotal’s CEO, said that Pivotal and GE shared “a vision for a common platform that is cloud-agnostic and based on modern, scale-out technologies, and does it all at speeds faster than what was previously possible.”

Jeff Kelly, a big data analyst with the Wikibon Project, said that new research by his firm found that an industrial strength cloud environment “needs to meet the challenges of integrating large volumes of machine data with data from other sources while executing near real-time analytics.” Kelly said that GE had “both the Industrial Internet technology and the deep expertise across healthcare, energy, transportation and aviation” and was “well positioned … to develop and deliver software and services capable of scaling and delivering meaningful insight and action from complex industrial data.”

The GE “machine cloud” technology will undergird the Industrial Internet, a robust data network designed to bring machines into the digital age, equip them with sensors and software, and use the data they generate to make customers more efficient.

“GE’s industrial-strength platform is the first viable step to not only the next era of industrial productivity, but the next era of computing,” said Bill Ruh, vice president of GE’s Global Software Center. “The ability to bring machines to life with powerful software and sensors is a big advancement – but it is only in the ability to quickly analyze, understand and put machine-based data to work in real-time that points us to a society that benefits from the promise of big data. We are building an ecosystem with partners to save money for our customers and unlock new value for society.”

The new cloud technology will work together with GE’s “Predictivity” services and technologies like Grid IQ, AgileTrac and Taleris, which customers like Mount Sinai Hospital, Etihad Airways and Norfolk Southern have tapped to manage and operate their medical machines, planes and trains.

Two new research papers from the Wikibon Project say that industries have been slower than enterprises to take advantage of the cloud because industrial big data has unique requirements and managing this data requires enormous computing power. Wikibon found that industrial data will grow at two times the rate of any other big data segment within the next ten years, and that companies will spend more that $500 billion by 2020 to handle and analyze this growing avalanche of bits moving with increasing speed. Wikibon estimates that the Industrial Internet could create $1.3 trillion in new value by the end of the decade by improving productivity and efficiency.

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