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Volkswagen Industrial Cloud with AWS and MindSphere

30.03.2019

Within three days, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Siemens MindSphere were announced as core elements of the newly established Volkswagen Industrial Cloud. The significance of the large-scale project goes far beyond the vehicle industry.

Volkswagen Industrial CloudOn March 27, there were pictures of VW CEO Herbert Diess and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in print and TV. The smiling leaders of the two major companies announced that they want to create a "Volkswagen Industrial Cloud" (Picture VW) in a multi-year joint development, to merge the data of the production and logistics of 122 VW factories.

Two days later, on March 29, a joint press release from Siemens and VW announced that Siemens will be integration partner for the VW Industrial Cloud with its industry cloud platform MindSphere.

For both, Amazon Web Services, the cloud and AI arm of Amazon, as well as for Siemens with its three years ago founded cloud and AI offer MindSphere, this step is a decisive milestone. AWS can position itself as a key player in the industry, not just in trade and service. And for Siemens MindSphere, it is the first large-scale project in a big international corporation in the automotive industry, after previously mainly small and medium-sized companies in the mechanical and plant engineering sector were looking for their way into the cloud via MindSphere.

The industry-specific part of MindSphereThe seemingly limitless scalable cloud infrastructure and a very comprehensive set of AI tools for every imaginable application is the basic contribution of AWS. The industrial platform from Siemens brings the specific know-how from industrial automation through to virtual commissioning with the digital twin and the analysis of production and logistics data on-site by means of edge computing. (photo Sendler at th press conference during SPS 2018)

In addition to the 122 VW plants, more than 30,000 locations of more than 1,500 suppliers and partner companies are to be connected to the new cloud. And MindSphere as a platform is open to other partners.

This double partnership of VW is a historic break. With this project, cloud and AI comprehensively cover production and logistics and thus immediately the core areas of industrial added value, in which digital connection can still achieve significant cost savings. The digitalization of the industry is entering the next phase.

Based on the platform, new services and business models for VW as well as suppliers and partners are to be made possible. The transformation of the factory into a smart factory is taking shape.

It will not stay that way. Naturally, also all engineering data from VW can be integrated into all imaginable scenarios via the cloud. Likewise the operating data from the connected vehicles, not only the machines, production plants and robotic lines used for their production. The entire product life cycle, the entire value-added process of the car manufacturer and its ecosystem is making its way into the cloud.

It is with VW an international company headquartered in Germany, with which Amazon takes this step. Not Ford, Boeing or Apple. And with Siemens, it is an international company with headquarters in Germany, which sets the industrial base for it. Not Google or Microsoft.

In the press releases, as always, a note from Siemens is missing that MindSphere pursues a fundamentally different business model than the giants from Silicon Valley. In principle, the data processed and exploited in this cloud belongs to the customers, ie VW and its partners and suppliers, not to the platform operator Siemens. So it is also not belonging to the infrastructure provider AWS. This fact cannot be emphasized enough. Because this is the great opportunity to turn Germany, the leading industrial location, into a location that stands for a new, better path to the Internet and data economy.

At the latest, if the data of the vehicles and their drivers and owners are used for business in the cloud, it will be decisive which way prevails. Does VW then follow Jeff Bezos, who has so far cared for the data of its users as little as Zuckerberg? Or does VW follow the Siemens AG, which considers the opposite correct at least for the industry? Will VW like Bezos say, the data belongs to who has it? Or says VW, the data belongs in principle to the customer and user, so the driver or owner?

Keeping an eye on this cloud is not only interesting for IT providers and business leaders. It is important for the whole society whose life is undergoing radical change.

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