Pivotal Gets GE for Industrial Cloud Platform

TheStreet.com

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Pivotal , a joint-venture between VMware and EMC , which owns 80% of it, has unveiled "Pivotal One," a platform for what it calls the "industrial Internet," with $105 million from General Electric .

The $105 million gets GE a 10% stake in the new venture, and the full attention of a 1,250-person team built by CEO Paul Maritz from pieces of both his parent companies.

Maritz told a 4,000-person Webcast that Pivotal will build a real-time data fabric and applications platform on top of OpenStack, Amazon.com's and VMware's infrastructures.

The idea, he said, is to give industry the kind of real-time analytics that consumer Internet services have, along with the ability to quickly deliver applications using vast amounts of data.

He said that new Facebook employees are told to deliver their first new application on their first day on the job and that this capability needs to reach enterprises.

The consumer Internet companies "store huge amounts of data and go through it cost-effectively," he said. "They have rapid application development." Finally "they have found a way to scale through automation," deploying these applications without human intervention.

That's what Pivotal One software hopes to do, over the next several years, using industrial data.


Focusing on that industrial market averts questions about Pivotal being "just another" cloud platform alongside Microsoft Azure and Citrix CloudPlatform, which are fighting to gain market traction against Amazon and Google . Pivotal One has a specific mission, and a lead customer that has reason to commit to a private instead of a public cloud solution.

The key technology within Pivotal One, said co-founder Scott Yara, is Hadoop, the "big data" program that Pivotal said in February it is transforming into a database tool. "We're all in with Hadoop," he said, and Pivotal's version will enable "real-time database processing."

William Ruh, vice president of GE's software and analytics center, predicted industrial operations will be transformed by big data over the next decade. GE generates petabytes of data per day on energy systems, aircraft systems and in health care.

He said real-time analysis of petabyte-sized data streams will allow for pro-active airliner maintenance, real-time management of the electrical grid and more efficient health care.

An industrial Internet will take advantage of the sensors and computers now being built inside machines from cars to planes to power systems, Ruh said. "We're going to have to collect a lot of data, and build analytics, but that will change how we generate energy, fly airlines, and do health care."


Building an industrial Internet for GE will give Pivotal the revenue stream it needs to build out that capability for other customers, which Ruh said is why GE is buying a piece of the company. "We think the industrial side of big data will dwarf the consumer side," but it will be based on closed, secure systems, less vulnerable to hacking than the consumer Internet.

At the time of publication, the author was long GE and GOOG.

Follow @DanaBlankenhorn

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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