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商业 - 科技

通用电气缘何豪赌软件技术?

Michal Lev-Ram 2013年04月27日

通用电气向Pivotal软件公司注资1.05亿美元,以提高服务利润。因为通用电气的未来在一定程度上取决于它能否大批量的生产软件和服务,为它销售的智能化设备提供支持。

    本周早些时候,通用电气公司(General Electric)宣布,在一家名为Pivotal的新平台即服务提供商投资1.05亿美元,后者是由硬件设备公司EMC和虚拟化软件开发商VMware联合成立的一家新公司。通用电气此举用意何在?通用电气的未来至少在一定程度上取决于它能否批量生产软件与服务,为其所销售的日益智能化的设备提供支持。通用电气希望,通过注资Pivotal,公司可以有一个更好的途径来为客户快速开发、部署大数据商务应用。

    通用电气全球软件中心副总裁兼公司官员比尔•拉赫说:“众所周知,我们的大部分利润源自支持设备的服务。随着设备日益智能化,我们的客户也希望提高设备与人员的生产效率。”

    实际上,通用电气的服务部门已经为公司带来了约450亿美元收入。据拉赫透露,公司将利用Pivotal的技术作为未来提供数据分析与云架构的一种标准源。随着装有传感器的智能设备(即通用电气所谓的“工业互联网”)的增加,从航空业到医疗行业,公司的客户都在收集前所未有的海量数据。这些数据可以让客户更好地管理自己的设备,减少燃料消耗,优化维护与操作。当然,前提是他们有适当的应用,可以快速计算数字,同时形成可行的见解。而这正是通用电气的切入点。

    拉赫称:“从互联网的客户一方身上,比如谷歌(Google)、Facebook和亚马逊(Amazon)等,我们学到了重要的一点。这些公司都解决了如何管理大量信息的问题,同时还利用这些信息来提供新型服务。”

    通用电气正在大力发展软件技术,这已经不是什么秘密。去年,在距离硅谷腹地不远的加州圣拉蒙市,公司专门成立了一个负责软件开发的部门。拉赫表示,公司在湾区的办事处目前聘用了约425人,所有人都在研究“下一代服务提供”。通用电气首席执行官杰夫•伊梅尔特最近宣布,公司将投资10亿美元,用于开发将设备诊断与分析相结合的应用。公司表示,这些新的软件工具可以为能源和交通等主要行业减少1,500亿美元浪费,(例如,为一架飞机安装传感器和智能软件可以减少不必要的维护费用)。通用电气计划在2013年发布20款新兴工业互联网服务技术。

    通用电气公司投资1.05亿美元获得了Pivotal公司10%的股份。目前,Pivotal公司的负责人是VMware公司前任CEO保罗•马瑞兹。马瑞兹表示,Pivotal维持云独立性,它意味着这个新的开发平台不仅包含亚马逊(Amazon)、微软(Microsoft)和VMware等公司的云服务内容,而且还能允许各公司在自己的服务器上运行商务应用。

    马瑞兹提到公司的使命是成为“新时代的新平台”,这是一个野心勃勃的目标。而公司要想证明自己,很可能要等到数年之后——Pivotal在2013年底才会发布第一款产品。不过,它确实拥有许多令人印象深刻的支持者。本周早些时候,在Pivotal在旧金山举办的推广活动上,拉赫称:“我们认为,Pivotal将是一位非常重要的合作伙伴。这个平台将帮助我们开发下一代数据驱动应用。”有了Pivotal的帮助,通用电气能否以谷歌(Google)和Facebook的速度,大量开发应用?谁知道呢!至少他们投入的1.05亿美元也算是花在了刀刃上。(财富中文网)

    译者:刘进龙/汪皓

    Earlier this week, General Electric (GE) announced it is investing $105 million in a new platform-as-a-service provider called Pivotal, a spinoff of EMC (EMC) and VMware (VMW). Why? GE's future at least partly relies on its ability to keep churning out software and services to support the increasingly smart machines it sells. With Pivotal, GE hopes it will have a better way to quickly build and deploy big data business applications for its customers.

    "It's well known that a lot of our profits come out of the services that support our machines," says Bill Ruh, VP and corporate officer of GE's Global Software Center. "Machines are getting smarter, and our customers are demanding greater productivity for their machines and their people."

    Indeed, GE's services group already brings in roughly $45 billion in revenue. According to Ruh, the company will use Pivotal's technologies as a standard source for delivering data analytics and cloud architecture in the future. From aviation to health care, the company's customers are now collecting unprecedented amounts of data, due to a growing number of intelligent, sensor-equipped machines -- what GE calls the "industrial Internet." These terabytes of data could enable customers to better manage their machines, utilizing less fuel and optimizing maintenance and operations -- that is, of course, if they have the right apps to quickly crunch the numbers and spew out actionable insights. That's where GE comes in.

    "We're taking a lesson from the consumer side of the internet -- the Googles, Facebooks and the Amazons," says Ruh. "These businesses figured out how to manage large volumes of information and utilize it to provide new kinds of services."

    It's no secret that GE is making a big push in software. Last year the company opened a facility dedicated to software development in San Ramon, Calif. -- not far from the heart of Silicon Valley. Ruh says the Bay Area office now employs about 425 people, all working on "next-generation service offerings." And GE chief executive officer Jeff Immelt recently announced he will invest $1 billion in developing applications that combine machine diagnostics and analytics. The company says these new software tools have the potential to cut $150 billion in waste across major industries like energy and transportation (equipping an airplane with sensors and smart software, for example, could cut down on unnecessary maintenance). GE plans to launch 20 new industrial Internet service technologies in 2013.

    The company's $105 million investment gives it a 10% stake in Pivotal, which is headed by the former CEO of VMware, Paul Maritz. Maritz says Pivotal will be cloud-independent, meaning the new development platform can sit on top of cloud offerings from Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT), and, of course, VMware. It can also let companies run business apps on their own servers.

    It's an ambitious goal, becoming a "new platform for a new era," as Maritz referred to the company's mission. It's also, in all likelihood, still years away from proving itself -- Pivotal won't release its first product until late 2013. But the company certainly has some impressive backers. "We think Pivotal will be an important partner," Ruh said at Pivotal's coming-out event in San Francisco earlier this week. "This is the platform for us to do these next-generation, data driven applications." Will GE be able to churn out applications as fast as Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB), with a little help from Pivotal? Who knows. At least they're putting their money -- $105 million, to be exact -- where their mouth is.

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