Microsoft and GE are teaming up to outfit enterprises with cloud-based industrial-grade internet of things (IoT) products and services.
Building on their existing partnership centered around GE's Predix cloud-based industrial internet platform, the companies announced on July 16 that they are deepening their ties and using Microsoft's Azure cloud computing offerings to make it happen. Predix is an ecosystem of IoT applications, analytics and management products and services for businesses and developers.
In October 2017, shortly after inking a deal with Apple that brought Predix to iOS devices, GE entered into an agreement with Microsoft to focus on large industrial IoT deployments. Suggesting that their efforts bore fruit, GE Digital, home to the conglomerate's industrial IoT business, announced it was standardizing Predix on Azure, a move that will allow GE to expand its cloud footprint and help keep cyber-security risks at bay.
Currently, Microsoft operates 42 Azure regions around the world and is in the process of adding more cloud data centers for a total of 54 announced regions.
GE is also working on tighter integrations between Predix and Microsoft Azure Analytics, Azure IoT and other cloud services from the software giant. In addition, the pact calls for the companies to jointly market and sell Predix-powered IoT solutions.
Microsoft and GE will also explore how to make Predix data available to business applications and hybrid-cloud systems.
Likely candidates include Microsoft Power BI, a cloud-based business intelligence and data analytics platform, and PowerApps, a no-code business application builder. In terms of hybrid implementations, the firms are investigating integrations with Azure Stack, hybrid cloud server and software bundles from Microsoft and select hardware partners.
According to Bill Ruh, chief digital officer at GE and CEO of the GE Digital division, the move reflects a desire from customers to "make a deeper connection between our two companies."
"Through this expanded partnership, Microsoft and GE are enabling customers around the world to harness the power of the Predix portfolio, including Predix Asset Performance Management, to unlock new capabilities to drive growth," Ruh said in a media advisory.
Predix Asset Performance Management (APM) is a set of performance optimization software and services designed to help businesses improve the reliability and availability of their IoT-enabled equipment. With Predix APM, organizations can lower operational risks, rein in maintenance costs and reduce an industrial IoT deployment's overall total cost of ownership, claims GE.
The partnership is also expected to yield benefits for IoT developers. Using a combination of Microsoft's coder-friendly enterprise cloud and the Predix application development platform, the companies hope to accelerate the process of building, deploying and running industrial IoT applications, both in the cloud and at the edge.
Microsoft's investments in cloud security and compliance are also expected to pay off for GE by enhancing the Predix platform's security layer and allowing customers with stringent regulatory requirements to roll out IoT solutions.
Internally, GE said it will be using Azure for its own Predix-based deployments. The company also plans to expand the use of Microsoft's cloud-based IT workload and productivity solutions across the business.