On Monday, at Microsoft’s 2016 Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto, General Electric (GE) announced that its Predix platform for industrial IoT would now be running on Microsoft Azure. The partnership could help more fully position GE as key provider of IoT and big data services to manufacturing and industrial firms.

“We see, in Azure, not only a great cloud technology and [the] ability to globalize quickly. But, it’s a platform on which other platforms can go,” GE CEO Jeff Immelt said. “And, I think the relationship we see with Microsoft will allow us to move more quickly in places that are important for us, which is really all over the world.”

GE’s Predix is a cloud-based platform-as-a-service (PaaS) that provides a way to connect connected industrial machine and devices securely, and allows businesses to more easily glean insights from the data associated with them. Predix was already available on AWS, and was launched on Oracle’s cloud platform in April 2016.

However, making Predix available on Azure as well makes GE’s platform more broadly available and attractive to potential industrial customers. This is especially true for those customers that may already have an established rapport with Microsoft software for office work and administrative procedures. For GE, the goal is to make Predix the de facto IoT solution for industrial and manufacturing companies.

SEE: Immelt: GE will use 100-year legacy to bridge physical and digital, create $15 billion software company

For Microsoft, the partnership allows the company to continue to compete for market share with rival AWS. Although Microsoft still pales in comparison to AWS in terms of yearly revenue, its depth of hybrid cloud solutions and years of work in the enterprise could eventually make it a strong competitor.

In terms of what Microsoft will provide to GE customers using Predix, a GE blog post said that Microsoft would be providing a host of additional features, including “artificial intelligence, advanced data visualization and natural language technology.”

Microsoft’s blog post on the partnership touted additional “data sovereignty, hybrid capabilities, and advanced developer and data services.” Also, Predix will eventually be integrated with Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite, as well as the company’s more well-known business applications like Office 365 and Power BI. Customers will also be able to build apps on Azure using Predix data.

Research firm Gartner recently predicted that almost 21 billion connected devices will be in use by 2020, with more than seven billion of those specifically used in business. If that growth is driven, even in part, by manufacturing and industrial firms the demand for platform like Predix will continue to grow.

The developer preview of the integration will be available before the end of 2016, and Predix on Azure will available commercially by Q2 2017.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. GE’s Predix platform is coming to Microsoft Azure, creating new opportunities for both companies to capture new customers in the industrial IoT space.
  2. Predix was already available on AWS and Oracle, but availability on Azure could make it even more attractive to certain potential customers that are deeply involved in the Microsoft ecosystem.
  3. Microsoft will likely continue to pursue partnerships like the one with GE to remain competitive against its biggest competitior, AWS.