Editor’s note: Ezra Gottheil is principal analyst at Technology Business Research.

HAMPTON, N.H. – By bringing Predix, its Internet of Things (IoT) platform, to Microsoft’s Azure cloud, GE Digital gains access to IT departments, parts of customer businesses largely unfamiliar with GE as a vendor. Microsoft expands the Azure audience to industrial operations departments (operations technology [OT]) less familiar with Microsoft than with industrial vendors such as GE.

Together, the two companies’ platforms form a formidable competitor to IBM, an IT company with deep industrial roots.

The alliance enhances Azure as an industrial IoT platform, strengthening Microsoft’s position in IoT. The positive effect on GE will be greater, as GE will use Microsoft to attract IT-oriented customers and developers to Predix, helping the company expand its reach beyond its current customers.

For both companies, having a combined platform makes it easier for in-house or third-party integrators to bring together IT and OT constituencies, a requirement for successful IoT projects.

Because both Azure IoT and Predix were built to be as complete as possible, there is considerable overlap between the IoT platforms’ offerings. But there is also complementarity, as Predix has specialized capabilities for industrial applications and Azure has a broader array of horizontal capabilities for analysis, presentation and integration.

The near-ubiquity of Microsoft software and the expanding adoption of at least the free Azure capabilities will lower barriers to adoption and improve Predix’s position against common incumbents such as Cisco and SAP.