BMW’s in-car digital services are driving up its IT requirements by around 30 per cent each year, forcing the manufacturer to migrate its applications away from its traditional IT architecture which can no longer cope.

BMW’s Connected Vehicle services have become increasingly important to customers, including features like remote start, navigation and third party app integration. It has existed in some form for two decades but has exploded in recent years with digital technology.

BMW Group’s lead architect, Connected Vehicle, Digital Backend, Big Data, Blockchain, Dr. Alexander Lenk explained how the increasing demand had forced an IT migration during a customer keynote at Red Hat’s annual user conference in Boston last week.

Lenk said the 2.5 million cars BMW sells each year with Connected Vehicle technology is like adding millions of IoT devices, all connecting to backend IT to provide each car’s 300 micro-services. The resulting 1 billion plus requests each week have caused a great strain on the car manufacturers IT systems and required a complete migration of applications.

“You can imagine if you have traditional IT, you have all these micro-services running on shared infrastructure, all the processes behind it, suddenly you get this immense increase of requests that you run into bottlenecks,” Lenk said.

“You need systems that can deal with this.”

BMW has chosen Red Hat’s OpenShift Kubernetes platform and expects to have finished its application migration by the end of this year, a two year long process all together.

Lenk said BMW is also exploring public cloud options as it expects it will need more scale in the future. Red Hat’s announcement of an Azure version of OpenShift would likely make that transition easier, although Lenk did not name a public provider.

BMW is already using a public cloud for a data lake, Lenk said. Aggregating the troves of data is required if BMW is to deliver a high level of customer experience, according to Lenk.

“In order to give our customer the best personalised experience we really need that data. We need data from he processes, we need data from the customer in order to really tailor the services to our customers and make sure they get the best possible services.”

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