The Internet of Things (IOT) is a computing concept that refers to a massively interconnected future state in which everyday objects will be connected to the internet and to each other.  Even with today’s early stage machine-to-machine (M2M) endeavors involving smart electricity meters or vehicle telematics, we are a long way from this future IOT state.  Even in the most modern of homes, today’s refrigerators and dishwashers don’t talk to one another or to their owner’s smart phones to remind them to pick up milk or dishwasher detergent.


However, IOT, got a pretty big boost today with GE’s $105 million investment in Pivotal.  You see, GE makes lots of things that are already instrumented with sensors that collect massive amounts of data as they operate.  A surprising amount of today’s Pivotal launch event was devoted to discussing use cases involving GE-made products such as airplane engines and wind turbines.  The main point seemed to be that doing useful things with the massive amounts of data gathered by these things (or at least the sensors attached to these things) requires a radically different software and application architecture.  Pivotal and its upcoming PivotalOne offering will attempt to provide an application development platform that can not only ingest these massive data quantities (using GemFire) but can also wring meaning and useful business intelligence from them in order to enable realtime responses.

One interesting example cited was that, on average, a single Boeing 777 produces over 30TB of sensor data on a single transatlantic flight!  A large wireless carrier I know of processes over 4 billion billable events per day and those are just summary records of the activity that is really happening in the network when consumers use data, send texts or make calls.

So, 113-year old GE appears to be making a bet on the upstart Pivotal in part to focus on building a series of product offerings to help its customers leverage the massive data quantities that GE’s things generate.  GE not only wants to make money from selling the things and the sensors monitoring the things, but also on the intelligence that can be derived using Pivotal’s software architectures from the data that the things generate.



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