The Inevitable Relationship between the Cloud and the Automobile Industry

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A number of real-life studies have shown that data will be at the heart of the success of the futuristic “digital car.” Cloud, fog, and edge computing technologies can help automobile companies deal with this challenge.

The IT industry has seen a massive transformation and shifts over the past decade—social media and the customer or consumer experience, artificial intelligence and machine learning, big data and analytics, and cloud, to name a few. In transportation, a similar shift is happening. The design and capability of the 1b vehicles around the world (2010 estimate) are responding to new customer demand, and with IT technologies like cloud, this change is accelerating.

The cloud can offer the automobile industry a number of solutions as enumerated below:

1. Rent and share, but not buy and use

In the past, a majority of vehicles were bought or used in a dedicated and single instance. This was not dissimilar to the IT industry. Up and until 10 years ago, most of us bought, installed, operated, and used dedicated infrastructure. With the advent of the cloud, this has largely changed. Increasingly, each of us rent slices of IT capability even down to a per second use. The automobile industry is catching up and adopting a cloud approach. For instance, car hire companies are minimising cost per km by making more use of a cloud-like consumption model.

2. Analysing data in the Fog and Edge

Cloud and cloud-related capabilities (like fog and edge [1]) are enabling new abilities to capture, store and analyze data, which they will continue to do so in the future as well. With 3G technology, there is, of course, the limitation of bandwidth and latency. However, the development won’t cease, and with 4G and 5G, there are new opportunities continuously generating. A 787 Dreamliner generates 7TB of data per hour flown. A number of real-life studies (see Google, Tesla, VW, and others) have shown that data will be at the heart of the success of the futuristic “digital car.” Cloud, fog and edge computing technologies can help and direct automobile companies deal with this challenge.

3. Cloud is providing automobile companies a new connected IT platform

According to market estimates, the cloud IT market revenue is projected to increase to $390 billion in 2020 from $180 billion, translating into a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 17%. The hybrid part of that growth is reached $92 billion by 2021 with a CAGR of 22.5%, according to a leading analyst firm. This is something that global and very large automobile manufacturers use to connect internal departments as well as their direct and indirect suppliers, establishing their own automobile-focused cloud. And they are not stopping here – take Volkswagen as an example, an organization with over 600,000 staff and thousands of 3rd party suppliers. Across is brands—VW, Porsche, and Audi—Volkswagen is planning to build a massive private cloud that eventually transforms into a hybrid cloud.

For an automotive client, we built an MVP in the Point of Sales context based on Redhat Openshift PaaS. We were able to reduce the development effort and provide a highly scalable solution. The time-to-market from the first idea in a Design Thinking Workshop to the first deployment in production was only 3 months. Using a standardized framework for Microservices and an automated DevOps pipeline based on open source was key for that!

The speed of innovation in the automobile industry is accelerating. It seems that the cloud (the solution as well as the approach to the cloud) is ready, and it can further help the car industry to produce solutions at an even faster pace.

[1] What is fog and edge computing?

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