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Why is GE Investing in Pivotal?

Hint: It's all about the data.

General Electric (GE) was formed in 1892, but don't let its age fool you. The company is no laggard and is taking a very young approach to the world of Big Data and the cloud.

GE announced this week that it is investing $105 million in startup Pivotal. Pivotal was officially launched at a media event on Wednesday and is made up of technology assets spun out of EMC and VMware. Pivotal's technologies include VMware's CloudFoundry Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) as well as a Hadoop distribution called Pivotal HD based on Greenplug Hadoop. Pivotal is led by CEO Paul Maritz, who formerly led VMware.

So what is GE's interest?

"GE is a 130-year old company, so we always like to be around you youngsters and help create the future with you," GE CEO, Jeff Immelt said during the Pivotal launch event.

Immelt said that GE is focused on enabling its customers with the benefits of software analytics. For GE, it's a movement that Immelt referred to as the Industrial Internet.

"It's about smart machines, Big Data and analytics, as well as mobile workforces," Immelt said. "Those will come together for airlines, utilities and Oil and Gas companies, to drive great applications."

Those applications could include capabilities for eliminating unplanned down-time as well as asset and enterprise optimization. Immelt said that small changes in performance have the potential to drive billions of dollars of profitability, improvements in on-time delivery and consumer experience.

"We see Pivotal as an important partner in our ability to help us manage a lot of data in real time and be able to transform it, putting it to use on behalf of our employees and customers," Immelt said.

GE Vice President of Global Software Bill Rue echoed Immelt's views, stating that the Industrial Internet represents a foundational change in the industries that GE serves.

"We realize that we're going to have to make our machines more intelligent," Rue said. "We're going to have to collect a lot of data and we're going to look to build those analytics that will provide productivity."

The potential that GE sees extends across all of its market verticals including aviation, energy and health care.

In the aviation business, for example, there are multiple opportunities to improve efficiency of resource utilization, maintenance and operations. Rue added there are lots of applications for Big Data in managing energy production as well, including wind farms and the Smart Grid.

"Can I have wind turbines operating efficiently that communicate to others in the wind farm how to be more efficient?" Rue said. "Then how does it communicate to the grid to help balance out demand appropriately?"

"All of that is sensors, all of that is analytics, all of that is Big Data," Rue added.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.




Tags: cloud computing, GE, big data, Pivotal


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