BMW Chooses Cloud Computing for Connected-Car Services

By: Jacqueline Lee| - Leave a comment

German luxury automaker BMW has deployed a new connected-car platform to make use of data collected by its vehicles’ onboard computers. The platform, called BMW CarData, will run on IBM’s cloud computing infrastructure and utilize IBM’s Bluemix platform-as-a-service.

According to Data Center Knowledge, BMW CarData will make use of a SIM card already present in 8.5 million BMW vehicles and provide BMW owners control over which third parties can see their data. The platform is indicative of a growing market not only for connected cars but also for the data they generate.

Connected Cars Offer New Opportunities

Connected-car technology is already providing cost optimization and safety enhancement, both for individual drivers and fleets. Using a telematics-based auto insurance policy involving the collection and sharing of data related to vehicle speed, acceleration, braking, travel time and route can reduce a driver’s crash risk by 40 percent and cut their policy costs by as much as 25 percent, according to the British Insurance Brokers Association.

In fleet management, connected-vehicle data provides crucial insights into route optimization and strategies to lower fuel consumption. It also helps managers stay on top of maintenance issues and negotiate lower insurance premiums. Because collecting and analyzing this data requires significant data center resources, a public cloud computing environment offers the perfect fit to manage this kind of workload.

Involving a hyperscale cloud provider, rather than relying on the car manufacturer’s own data centers, can deliver both better availability and better security for customer data. BMW plans to require third parties to register with BMW CarData before they can access the data customers choose to share. To ensure security during transit, CarData will encrypt all data transfers, with IBM taking the lead on securing the data it stores.

Advantages for Cloud Computing Providers

Data Center Knowledge reports that some connected-car manufacturers, including Ford, are building their own data centers. Toyota has also partnered the Japanese telecommunication giant NTT to build its own data center network. In contrast, manufacturers that choose cloud computing for these workloads can avoid the capital expenditures that come with building new data centers. Cloud providers can also benefit by making car owner data availability to third parties and offering tools to help them build applications.

Bluemix will integrate with BMW CarData APIs to offer third parties more than 150 microservices, including available Watson Internet of Things capabilities, notes Data Center Knowledge. With this business model, the services required by both the car manufacturer and third-party developers become streams of revenue for the cloud provider.

BMW isn’t the only manufacturer that plans to make use of IBM’s cloud services. Dirk Wollschlaeger, a general manager for IBM’s automotive team, sees the IBM cloud as a neutral server that can store data from multiple manufacturers and then distribute it to third parties such as insurance companies, Data Center Knowledge reports. This vendor neutrality could also benefit fleets, which often own vehicles from many manufacturers, if they choose to move away from commodity telematics tools and use the connected capabilities already present within the vehicles.

According to an IBM blog post, BMW CarData is currently only available in Germany, but BMW plans to expand to other countries soon.

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About The Author

Jacqueline Lee

Freelance Writer

Jacqueline Lee specializes in business and technology writing, drawing on over 10 years of experience in business, management and entrepreneurship. Currently, she blogs for HireVue and IBM, and her work on behalf of client brands has appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur and Inc. Magazine. In addition to writing, Jackie works as a social media manager and freelance editor. She's a member of the American Copy Editors Society and is completing a certificate in editing from the Poynter Institute.

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