The Industrial Internet of Things: A Catalyst for Growth and Innovation

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You’ve heard of the Internet of Things (IoT)? Well what about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)? After surveying 20 countries, Accenture reported the IIoT could contribute a combined $10.6 trillion to their gross domestic products by 2030. That’s a significant bump in growth from an emerging technology.

The IIoT is the industrial application of networked physical objects that contain embedded technology (sensors, mobile communications devices, etc.) to communicate their internal states (e.g., on/off, temperature, faults, etc.) and interact with other systems or people. For instance, today’s GE jet engines produce 1 terabyte of data per flight, and on average, take 5 – 10 flights per day. Think of those engines communicating streams of data to the manufacturer after landing, informing them of a potential engine failure and preventing a catastrophic crash. Or a car manufacturer learning from its robotics manufacturing systems that there are more efficient ways to assemble new cars. Or in agriculture, satellites generating data about the weather and soil dampness sensors, both communicating with irrigation systems to keep crops properly hydrated.

In fact, in many ways, the industrial Internet is already impacting our daily lives. Practically every car on the road can tell its owner that it needs an oil change. And now, thanks to the IIoT, the car will also inform your local dealer that your water pump is about to go. In fact, as you read this blog site, your dealer could already be ordering the part and getting ready to email you an invite to schedule your next service appointment.

According to Accenture, for companies to reap the full impact of the IIoT, they will need to exploit the following three technology capabilities: sensor-driven computing, industrial big data analytics, and intelligent machine applications to capture, analyze and apply information generated by millions of “industrial things.” Only by deploying these capabilities can companies fully monetize previously unavailable or inaccessible enterprise- and machine-generated data.

GE Predix Cloud – An Interoperable and Interconnected IIoT Platform-as-a-Service

Today’s emerging IIoT infrastructures are a patchwork of separately evolved, vendor-specific and proprietary sensors, systems and software. The time is now to bring these disparate systems into an interoperable and interconnected platform that can leverage the full potential of the IIoT.

General Electric (GE) recently announced its GE Predix Cloud, the world’s first and only cloud-based, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for capturing and analyzing industrial data (launching in January 2016). According to a recent InformationWeek article, the GE Predix Cloud will look nothing like the big cloud data centers built by Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

“We won’t be building any 900,000-square-foot data centers,” said Harel Kodesh, VP and CTO of GE’s Software unit, supplier of the Predix machine data analysis system and cloud service. Instead, GE will be deploying a distributed colocation strategy of multiple data centers in North America and around the world to capture the data from the world’s largest manufacturing and production systems. Reliable, high-speed interconnections from those data centers to GE customers will be vital to its IIoT platform.

Data privacy is also critical to this effort. Said Kodesh, “The information won’t pass through GE’s IT fabric. People don’t want to feel that GE will have a chance to look at their data.”

Instead, Kodesh will oversee the deployment of the Predix Cloud on vendor-neutral, reliable and secure colocation sites (many in existing Equinix data centers), where GE will run its own hardware and its Predix Cloud service.

Next, check out our blog post about the GE and Equinix collaboration to build the first global, PaaS cloud solution, designed specifically for the IIoT.