GE Bets Big On EMC/VMware-Backed Pivotal Big Data Venture


General Electric, the diverse $150 billion conglomerate, has made a $105 million investment in Pivotal, the ambitious new EMC-VMware big data business venture that officially launches Wednesday.

San Mateo, Calif.-based Pivotal said the investment by GE is equivalent to a 10 percent stake, putting the value of Pivotal, which includes 1,400 employees from EMC and VMware along with the best and brightest big data technology from the two vendors, at just over $1 billion.

Pivotal and GE, Fairfield, Conn., also disclosed their intent to enter into what the two companies in a statement called a "broad research and development and commercial agreement aimed at accelerating GE's ability to create new analytic services and solutions for its customers."

[Related: CRN Exclusive: 20 Tough Big Data Questions For Pivotal's Paul Maritz]

Jamie Shepard, regional vice president for Lumenate, a Dallas-based national solution provider making a significant investment in the big data game, said he sees the GE investment as a big differentiator between Pivotal and Amazon Web Services.

"Pivotal and GE are coming at it from two different sides," said Shepard. "Amazon is a consumer-based cloud trying to venture into the business market. Pivotal and GE are attacking and focusing 100 percent on business analytics. Not only is GE making an investment bet that Pivotal will be the primary and most logical choice for analyzing business data analytics, they are also going to use this product internally to drive their own business model."

Shepard said GE has more than 100 businesses with sophisticated business applications including jet engines that have more than 300 sensors feeding real-time information back to a control center via a satellite feed. That kind of business solutions focus gives Pivotal a big advantage over Amazon Web Services, he said.

"Amazon is an online retailer," said Shepard. "That is what they are good at. GE has more than 100 different businesses. This is a huge upside for Pivotal. GE is going to collect data from a broad set of customer experiences and test the solution to proactively and intelligently take share. I'm a businessman. I deal with businesses everyday. I need a business-focused solution to analyze business data and turn big data into profits. Pivotal is at the forefront of that."

Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech, a Holbrook N. Y.-based solution provider, said he sees Pivotal as a more partner-centric platform for solution providers than Amazon Web Services.

"Amazon's price model is a fixed model, so there are no discounts anywhere for partners," said Venero. "So it is a little bit more difficult for us in our space to make a profit on the offering. You have to to make it on the services, which is okay but you always want to take a piece of what you sell."

That said, Venero said big backing like the GE investment do not guarantee success, he said."It's going to be interesting to see how the Pivotal Vs. Amazon battle plays out," he said. "I'd like to know what Pivotal plans to do with the GE investment and how it might benefit the channel."

PUBLISHED APRIL 24, 2013