GE Introduces Predix Cloud to Handle Scale Up to the IoT

Unlike public clouds, Predix Cloud will use a "gated community" model to ensure that tenants of the cloud belong to the industrial ecosystem.

GE Introduces Predix Cloud

It started in the 1960s with time-sharing on mainframes. Then, in the '90s, there came the ASPs (application service providers). In the 2000s, public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds took over. Things continue to evolve; now we're moving into public and hybrid clouds for specialized purposes or for vertical industries.

GE, which named in 2013 and has come to "own" the so-called Industrial Internet, came out Aug. 5 with its own cloud network designed specifically for automated apps to run in the Internet of things [IoT], which pretty much works hand-in-hand with the Industrial Net to cover all machine-data tasks on the Web.

GE positions its Predix Cloud as the world's first and only cloud solution designed specifically for industrial data and analytics. The new platform-as-a-service (PaaS), which uses GE's own Predix operating system, captures and analyzes the volume, velocity and variety of machine data generated across the industrial world within a secure, industrial-strength cloud environment.

Predix Will Use a 'Gated Community' Business Model

Unlike public cloud infrastructure, which is open to any individual or organization, Predix Cloud will use a "gated community" model to ensure that tenants of the cloud belong to the industrial ecosystem.

Predix Cloud is being developed sector by sector, industry for industry. The huge conglomerate expects that this specialization will drive the next phase of growth for the Industrial Internet and enable developers to develop, stage and deploy applications and services for industry faster. Speed to market is extremely valuable in this real-time world.

With $4 billion in revenue in 2014 and projected revenues of $6 billion only a year later, GE's software shop already is a fast-growing division. This new Predix Cloud business is expected to play a major role in adding to GE's bottom line.

GE joins established companies such as Verizon, AT&T, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Dell, Microsoft, and others who have built their own service clouds and added them to their regular product offerings.

"We've been working on Predix for about three years," Harel Kodesh, Vice-President and CTO of GE Software, told eWEEK. "It's been changing its core gradually. At one point late last year, we came to the conclusion that we needed to build a platform as a service. This allows a lot more productivity for developers on our side.

"Second, it was about scale. We think the volume of data and the data-generating devices will grow three orders of magnitude in the next several years."

Will Serve Variety of Industries

Predix Cloud is the first industrial cloud service designed specifically for industrial data and analytics across industries such as aviation, rail transportation, health care, oil and gas exploration, and scientific use cases, Kodesh said. It combines GE's domain expertise in IT and operational technology (OT) to supply advanced tools such as asset connectivity, machine data support and industrial-grade security and compliance, Kodesh said.

While Predix Cloud is designed under the presumption that industrial machines and critical OT systems will become the largest contributors of data, it will utilize the capabilities of both consumer and enterprise clouds. As a result, Predix Cloud is optimized for asset connectivity, industrial machine data management, and industrial compliance and security, Kodesh said.

Here are some key data points regarding the Predix Cloud:

--GE services industries are not just heavily regulated, but globally regulated. Predix Cloud offers a governance model that ensures compliance around the globe; lack of compliance built-in is a silent deal killer in the cloud services industry for many major industries.
--GE has built a "software-defined mortar" into each layer of the cloud stack; each layer gives insight into data loss and helps monitor, detect and isolate malware or malicious activities. No other cloud service provider has this.
--Predix Cloud comes with an extended trust model, whereby GE security operations center works with the individual customer's security operations to build in redundancy. Just like applications that run inside a customer's infrastructure, Predix Security Operations Center takes action on behalf of GE customers.
--GE's Industrial Zones with Predix Cloud have a high bar for each application that is deployed to production. GE reviews the app running in isolation prior to deployment in order to reduce possible vulnerabilities and identify any rough behavior before it can impact other apps and services.

--Asset Connectivity: Analysts estimate that more than 50 billion assets will be connected to the Internet by 2020. Predix Cloud provides advanced connectivity-as-a-service for these industrial assets, combining proprietary technologies with global telecommunications partners to enable rapid provisioning of sensors, gateways and software-defined machines.

--Scalability for machine data: Machines produce different types of data, which consumer cloud services are not built to handle. Predix Cloud was purpose-built to store, analyze, and manage machine data in real time. From capturing and analyzing time series data from a locomotive with thousands of sensors to delivering large object data like a 3D MRI image to a doctor for diagnosis, Predix Cloud is built for the variety, volume, and velocity of industrial data.

--Interoperability: Predix Cloud will operate seamlessly with applications and services running in a spectrum of cloud environments. As such, businesses will be able to take advantage of its optimized security and data structure offerings while maintaining and interoperating within existing solutions.
--Developer insight: Developers will have visibility into their operating environments and every actor connected to it. In doing so, businesses will be able to deploy and monitor machine apps anywhere, continuously adjusting to new demands in the physical and digital world while providing the security and visibility required for operational effectiveness.

--On-demand availability: Businesses will be able to easily access and scale with the Predix Cloud, which will be offered through a convenient on-demand, pay-as-you-go pricing model.

Phani Pandrangi, Chief Product Officer at San Mateo, Calif.-based Kii Corp., which provides backend management solutions for IoT and mobile applications, told eWEEK that the "industrial IoT really requires a fundamentally special IaaS (infrastructure as a service)underneath, something the current IaaS providers can't handle.
"Current IaaS providers are beginning to (or soon will) add more and more IoT-oriented features that Predix might be currently providing, so this could be a preemptive effort to reduce value prop dilution," Pandrangi said.
Kii's platform is architected to work both in public cloud (multiple IaaS, such as AWS or Alibaba) and in private data centers, Pandrangi said.

To learn more about Predix Cloud, go here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...