As the technology and automotive sector become ever more intertwined, Microsoft and BMW are the latest to form an industrial cloud partnership.
The centrepiece of the partnership is the creation of an Open Manufacturing Platform (OMP) with the goal of boosting innovation in the manufacturing sector and advancing the development of the industrial IoT or ‘smart factory’. This is not the first such pairing between a U.S. tech giant and a German car maker. The announcement from Microsoft and BMW follows shortly after Volkswagen and Amazon Web Services (AWS) came together to connect Volkswagen’s 122 group plants.
Both initiatives reflect a push by so-called hyperscale cloud computing providers to capture and manage the terabytes of data from the network of connected devices comprising the Internet of Things (IoT). The alliance between Microsoft and BMW was announced at the recent Hanover Messe industrial trade fair.
“Microsoft is joining forces with the BMW Group to transform digital production efficiency across the industry”, said Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Cloud + AI Group. “Our commitment to building an open community will create new opportunities for collaboration across the entire manufacturing value chain.”
The OMP will be built on Microsoft’s Azure IIoT (industrial IoT) cloud platform. “Its reference architecture will be based on open-source standards, an approach designed to encourage other partners to join in”, Reuters reports. Microsoft said its goal is to have four to six partners in place by the end of 2019, with a minimum of 15 initial use cases deployed in production settings.
BMW is already using its own IIoT platform, built on Microsoft Azure, which connects 3,000 machines, robots and autonomous transport systems. The company said it will contribute some of its use cases to the project.