Microsoft and GE Partnership to Make Industrial IoT More Accessible to Businesses

General Electric (GE) and Microsoft Corporation recently announced the beginning of a new alliance. The technology collaboration will make available GE’s Predix platform for Industrial Internet on the Microsoft Azure cloud for industrial businesses.

The strategic partnership between the two giants is a major move towards helping customers seize multiple advantages from their industrial assets and cloud applications.

GE is recognized as a prime driving force behind the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) revolution. Now teaming up with global technology leader Microsoft, the company intends to bring forth easy and intuitive connection accessibility for enterprises wishing to leverage the potential of IIoT.

Microsoft has a proven track record of reinventing the technology landscape time and again. Its dominating presence in the corporate world is undeniable. Over the years. Microsoft has been at the center of end-user computing, dishing out a range of applications for back-end solutions, ERP, front-end controls, and business intelligence.

Significant Impacts of the Latest Arrangement Between GE and Microsoft

For some time now, standards bodies and proponents like the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) have been emphasizing improved standards and better interoperability. The GE-Microsoft joint venture seeks to address the issue; an uphill task considering the overall IIoT scenario, which to this day is scattered and unorganized with standards and protocols designed to meet individual requirements of vendors and manufacturers.

As published in a recent article by IIC, Bradford Miller of GE, and Dr. Shi-Wan Lin of Thingswise, illustrated the probable outcome of the latest development. The article reads, “Some industrial assets were built without any consideration of being connected to a broader network while some others were equipped with one version or another of proprietary communication protocols. Moreover, many new sensors are being attached to existing industrial assets to gain better insight into their operations. How to provide connectivity to the assortment of new sensors made by different vendors with proprietary specifications is another big challenge.”

Things to Expect from the GE’s Predix platform on Microsoft Azure

Microsoft, in a statement, categorically defined its intention, which is to provide GE’s Predix customers “access to the largest cloud footprint available today, along with data sovereignty, hybrid capabilities, and advanced developer and data services. In addition, GE and Microsoft plan 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.”

Market Triggers and Stimulus from the GE-Microsoft Partnership for IIoT

Historically, Microsoft makes a strategic move only when it senses consumer market opportunities. This certainly serves as an indicator for the IIoT market dynamics, which might soon open up and extend to smaller business enterprises at affordable prices. The technology, until now, was only accessible to big corporations.

Gartner predicts the worldwide use of connected things will shoot up from 6.4 billion this year to more than 20 billion by the end of 2020.

As cited in reports issued by both GE and Microsoft, Predix on Azure will be ready and available by the Q2 of 2017.

Written By: Kristin Owens

Director, Strategic Marketing, Avnet Embedded

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