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GE Vice President and Corporate Officer Bill Ruh, who joined the industrial behemoth two years ago from Cisco, said the Pivotal bet will help GE make "machines that are more intelligent." GE sees the last decade as the "consumer Internet" era and the coming decade as the industrial Internet era, he said.
"For GE we realize we are going to have to make our machines more intelligent," he said. "We are going to collect a lot of data. We are going to look to build those analytics that are going to provide that productivity. And we think all of that is going to foundationally change the architectures in how we generate energy or how we fly airlines or how we do healthcare, how we do rail, how we do mining and so on. This is a foundational change in the industries we serve. I think it is just going to be an exciting 10 years [ahead]."
One example of GE's focus on big data is using software and services to save huge costs in the aviation business on fuel, maintenance and operations.
Last November, for example, GE Aviation created a new joint venture with systems integration giant Accenture called Telaris, aimed at leveraging some of the big data being gathered from aircraft.
Telaris downloads all the data from all aircraft and does analytics aimed at predicting "failure of systems and parts," said Ruh. "The whole idea is can I move maintenance from unscheduled to scheduled?"
Another example, said Ruh, is using the big data technology to more efficiently run GE wind turbines to collect real-time data aimed at getting wind farms to operate more efficiently and generate more electrical output.
Ron Dupler, the CEO of GreenPages Technology Solutions, a Kittery, Maine-headquartered national cloud computing solution provider and onetime VMware partner of the year, said the GE investment is "huge validation" for the big data market and for Pivotal. He said GreenPages is looking forward to partnering with Pivotal to deliver big data applications and services to businesses. "This is a natural for us based on our relationship with VMware, EMC and [Pivotal CEO] Paul Maritz and the team," said Dupler.
Even though Pivotal is squarely focused on derailing Amazon Web Services' market momentum in the business market, Maritz and Pivotal Senior Vice President of Products and Platform Scott Yara avoided criticizing the Web giant.
In fact, Yara acknowledged the debt that Pivotal owes to consumer Internet big data giants like Amazon. "We are building on the shoulders of giants," said Yara. "We look at all of the advances that have come from not only our parent company VMware but Amazon, really, in building the leading cloud infrastructure service in the world and of other emerging platforms like OpenStack. I think this is the new modern hardware."
Maritz himself said the cloud independent mission of Pivotal means the company will embrace infrastructure-as-a-service offerings like Amazon Web Services and OpenStack even if they compete with Pivotal parents EMC and VMware. "We are independent of those two companies, fully authorized to work both collaboratively with EMC and VMware, but also work collaboratively with their competitors. As you can see, we are going to embrace Amazon and OpenStack and other architectures as well."
EMC Chairman and CEO Joe Tucci in an analyst conference call Wednesday, said Pivotal was set up just like VMware, as a separate company to build an ecosystem that is industry wide. "I think you'll see that come to fruition," he said. "There's a lot of -- I don't want to go further than I'm going -- there's a lot of interest in what we're doing with Pivotal."