GE and Siemens are battling each other with vastly different software strategies in a high-stakes land grab as factories quickly move their operations onto cloud-based Internet of Things platforms.
As more manufacturing customers look to collect and analyze operational technology data, GE and Siemens are going in opposite directions with their respective Predix and MIndSphere cloud platforms, solution providers told CRN.
GE has tried to get to the forefront of the industrial market through platform openness and partnerships. The company's Predix cloud is based on a multitenant “gated community” model, meaning that customers belong to the industrial ecosystem.
Siemens, meanwhile, is approaching IoT from a different direction and focusing sharply on product design and factory automation with a significant investment in product life-cycle management software.
The company's MindSphere platform is explicitly designed to connect assets at industrial plants in an automated production environment. The German company's comprehensive data hosting platform also offers data-based services such as machine tool analytics and energy analytics.
"GE and Siemens are both going after the industrial market with different approaches with their operating systems," said James Gillespie, CEO of Gray Matter Systems, a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based solution provider specializing in operational technology. "GE has its own applications, and now there's a whole community of developers and solution providers who are coming together around these apps."
Gillespie says there is a democratization of the technology taking hold in the manufacturing market. "The cloud technology itself is really becoming more affordable, dependable and reachable, and it's these IIoT [Industrial Internet of Things] operating systems forming. It's not just about the vendors and what they do, it’s the community around the operating system."
Gillespie, whose company partners with GE Digital, said that the manufacturing firm offers an array of modules, including Brilliant Manufacturing, an automation module, and an asset performance management module for oil and gas – helping partners easily build up services and value-add around various IIoT applications.
One operational technology solution provider executive, who partners with both GE and Siemens, said that GE Digital is building up its case for the industrial market with Predix, but Siemens' specialization in automation also makes it an appealing platform for customers.
"GE is dominating in the U.S. right now, but Siemens is clearly making the effort [in this market]," said the executive, who wished to remain anonymous. "Factory automation is probably the strongest part of Siemens' business … they're making big investments there."