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Will There Be A Dominant IIoT Cloud Platform?

When you think about consumer cloud platforms, which ones come to mind? Amazon AWSMicrosoft Azure and Google’s Cloud Platform are likely to be at the top of your list. But what about industrial cloud platforms? Which ones rise to the top for you? Well, GE’s PredixSiemen's MindSphere, and the recently announced Honeywell Sentience are likely to be on any short list of industrial cloud platforms. But they aren’t the only ones in this space. Cisco's JasperIBM’s Watson IoTMeshifyUptake, and at least 20 others are competing to manage all those billions of sensors that are expected to encompass the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Which one do you think will end up dominating the market?

A Brief Overview of Cloud Computing

To answer the above question, let's start with a very brief overview of cloud computing to put industrial cloud platforms in their proper context. Cloud platforms are one of several services that cloud computing providers offer, with the main ones being: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – does the provision processing, storage, networks, and other basic computing resources. The IaaS is used to deploy other services (i.e., PaaS and SaaS), as well as web applications. Customers don't manage or control the IaaS, but they are able to access to the servers and storage, and can operate a virtual data center in the cloud. There are a lot of IaaS providers. The biggest ones are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Windows Azure, Google Compute Engine, Rackspace Open Cloud, and IBM SmartCloud Enterprise. ( GE’s Predix platform for the Industrial Internet will be available to run on Microsoft Windows Azure Cloud.)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) – used for applications development, and providing cloud components to software. A PaaS makes it quick and easy and to develop, test, and deploy applications. Customers can't control or manage the underlying infrastructure, but they can control the applications and configuration of application-hosting environment. GE’s Predix, Honeywell's Sentience, and Siemens's MindSphere are PaaS's for industrial applications. Software development firms such as CumulocityBosch IoT, and Carriots are also provide PaaS’s for industry.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – delivers cloud-based applications to a user via a web browser or a program interface. The advantage of a SaaS is that you don't need to run or install specific applications on individual computers, which not only saves time and money, it also simplifies maintenance and support. Common SaaS examples include: Google Apps and Cisco WebExSiemens's Industrial Machinery Catalyst on the Cloud is an example of an Industrial SaaS (using AWS infrastructure).

Three Main Services of Cloud Computing

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Industrial Cloud Platforms by Industrial Companies

Industrial cloud platforms have a much deeper focus on operational technology than consumer platforms. They are designed to allow data gathering throughout manufacturing production processes, in order to improve performance as well as predict failures before they happen. Here are three industrial cloud platforms by long time industrial companies:

  • GE Predix: is a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) specifically designed for industrial data and analytics. It can capture and analyze the unique volume, velocity and variety of machine data within a highly secure, industrial-strength cloud environment. GE Predix is designed to handle data types that consumer cloud services are not built to handle.
  • Siemens MindSphere is an open platform, based on the SAP HANA (PaaS) cloud, which allows developers to build, extend, and operate cloud-based applications. OEMs and application developers can access the platform via open interfaces and use it for services and analysis such as the online monitoring of globally distributed machine tools, industrial robots, or industrial equipment such as compressors and pumps. MindSphere also allows customers to create digital models of their factories with real data from the production process.
  • Honeywell Sentience is the recently announced cloud infrastructure by Honeywell Process Solutions. It is a secure, scalable, standards-based “One Honeywell” IoT platform, that will be able to accelerate time-to-market of connected solutions, lower the cost-to-market, and enable new innovative SaaS business models. It will have the ability to run global security standards embedded throughout the solution and make applications that are plug & play and scalable.

Industrial Cloud Platforms by Software Development Firms

Industrial companies aren’t the only ones developing industrial cloud platforms. There’s already a long list of industrial cloud platforms available from software development firms. Here are a few worth mentioning:

  • C3 IoT is a PaaS that enables organizations to leverage data – telemetry from sensors and devices, data from diverse enterprise information systems, and data from external sources (such as social media, weather, traffic, and commodity prices) – and employ advanced analytics and machine learning at scale, in real time, to capture business insights for improved operations, enhanced customer engagement, and differentiated products and services. C3 IoT is led by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Thomas Siebel. It has closed deals with the U.S. State Department and the French utility ENGIE SA, based on C3 IoT’s focus on machine-generated data.
  • Uptake: is a predictive analytics SaaS platform provider that offers industrial companies the ability to optimize performance, reduce asset failures, and enhance safety. Uptake integrates data science and workflow connectivity to provide high-value solutions using massive data sets. In 2015, it entered into a partnership with heavy construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar to jointly develop an end-to-end platform for predictive diagnostics in order to help Caterpillar customers monitor and optimize their fleets more effectively.
  • Meshify is an Industrial IoT platform for tracking, monitoring, analyzing devices. The Meshify suite of tools provides all the features needed to deploy, monitor, control, and analyze the results of an IoT solution. Despite being a young technology business, it has a growing portfolio of clients with industrial-oriented companies, including Henry Pump, Sierra Resources, Stallion Oilfield Services, Gems Sensors & Controls and MistAway Systems.
Table 1: The List of Industrial Cloud Platform Providers

Amazon AWS

AT&T M2X

Bosch IoT

Carriots

Cumulocity

GE Predix

IBM Watson IoT

Intel IoT

Cisco Jasper

Losant IoT

MS Azure

ThingWorx

SAP Hana Cloud

Thethings.io

C3IoT

Uptake

Amplia IoT

XMPRO

Meshify

TempoIQ

Bitstew Systems

Siemens MindSphere

AirVantage

Honeywell Sentience

What Do You Think Will Be The Future of the Industrial Cloud?

Will there be a dominant Industrial Cloud Platform? It's hard to say at this point. GE Predix is hoping for 500,000 connected devices by the beginning of 2017, while C3 IoT is said to have 70 million devices connected to its platform already.

The Crowded Cloud of Industrial Platforms

Will this market consolidate around a few big-name platforms, or will a lesser known provider be the winner and take all? 

This post originally appeared here. 

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David Oro is the Editor at IoT Central

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