'Preferred' cloud? It's complicated.

By Barb Darrow
October 6, 2017

Late Thursday, Amazon issued a press release announcing that Amazon Web Services is the “preferred cloud” for industrial giant General Electric.

There does not appear to be any GE press release about this, although Amazon amzn includes a quote from Chris Drumgoole, GE’s chief technology officer and corporate vice president.

“We chose AWS as the preferred cloud provider for GE because AWS’s industry leading cloud services have allowed us to push the boundaries, think big, and deliver better outcomes for GE,” Drumgoole said.

That GE ge uses AWS is not new. It’s been doing so for years, even while building its own AWS-like cloud data centers. That plan has since fizzled with GE acknowledging it will use third-party cloud computing resources to run its industrial software for itself and for customers.

But GE also plans to use AWS rival Microsoft Azure. Microsoft msft announced that news in July.

GE is a massive company with nearly 300,000 employees. Its products run airplanes, trains, and power plants, and its medical equipment helps doctors diagnose patients. And while GE’s power, aviation, healthcare, transportation, and digital divisions will run applications on AWS, it is likely they will use other providers as well. Fear of lock-in—industry jargon for relying too much on a single provider—is pervasive in the tech market.

Related: GE Is Building its own cloud, outsiders wonder why

Here’s what to remember: “preferred” is not the same thing as “only.” Most likely this public statement is Amazon’s way of reminding the world that it is king of cloud going into its annual AWS Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas in late November. Expect Microsoft to make some big noises around Azure adoption, including by GE, at roughly the same time.

Microsoft Azure is seen as a growing number two player in the public cloud market. This is a computing model in which one company amasses huge piles of servers, storage, and networking in data centers around the world and rents it out to businesses wary of paying to run their own data centers.

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A GE spokesperson said the applications referred to by Amazon are GE’s internal IT applications. The company will run its Predix industrial software on Microsoft Azure as well as AWS. And GE will also use Microsoft tools like Power BI analytics. More will be announced on this later this month at GE’s Minds + Machines conference in San Francisco.

Note: (October 6, 2017 9:57 a.m. EDT) This story was updated to add comment and clarification from GE.

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