How exactly has Amazon found its way into the automotive market? The short answer is through its AWS (Amazon Web Services).
So, how exactly has Amazon found its way into the automotive market? The short answer is through its AWS (Amazon Web Services).
Amazon AWS started developing API-based (application programming interface) cloud services around 2003. AWS cloud computing technology was for internal use, until 2006 when Amazon launched AWS for external use. This means that AWS has at least 15 years of experience in developing, testing, updating and improving its cloud computing service portfolio — and simultaneously keeping up with Amazon’s amazing growth and vastly expanding its external customer base.
I have written two earlier columns on Amazon. The first column has perspectives on how big Amazon is and how it is a major user of transportation services and logistics: Amazon Quietly Worming Its Way into the Auto Industry. The second column is about what Amazon may do in autonomous vehicles for its logistics and its participation in AV use-cases: Amazon’s Playbook on Autonomous Vehicles.
AWS is the clear leader in cloud computing and has gained a lot of automotive customers in the last five years. I think a few quotes from a December 8, 2020 press release by AWS and BMW is illustrative of how well Amazon AWS is doing in the auto industry
The companies will combine their strengths as industry leaders to jointly develop cloud-enabled solutions that increase efficiency, performance, and sustainability across every aspect of the automotive life cycle, from vehicle design to after-sales services. As part of the wide-ranging collaboration, the BMW Group will migrate data from across its business units and operations in over a hundred countries to AWS. The move will encompass a number of the BMW Group’s core IT systems and databases for functions such as sales, manufacturing, and maintenance, and will help them increase agility, achieve new insights, and more quickly innovate new customer experiences. In addition, the companies will invest in enabling and training up to 5,000 BMW Group-affiliated software engineers in the latest AWS technologies and empower the company’s global workforce to make better use of data.
Yes, there is some “PR-fluff” but it is still very clear that BMW has a strategic relationship with AWS and will be relying on AWS cloud platforms to a large extent instead of in-house IT centers.
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There are many other auto companies using AWS cloud computing resources and services. When I see an important trend like this, I want to understand the why and how and potential future impact. This column is an attempt to do so, but the research became complicated because AWS is doing so much and is rapidly evolving and improving IT and cloud technologies. The result is a lot of AWS product names where I make short explanations of what it means.
Let me first look at the overall factors that is making AWS so strong in all industries including automotive cloud applications:
AWS has all the necessary capabilities to gain more automotive clients. The next figure is an attempt to use a picture to provide perspectives on what AWS can do and include auto client examples. I am using four product phases to illustrate the breadth of AWS products and automotive customer examples.
The blue boxes list the four product phases—create, make, market and use—with typical activities listed in each box. The four green boxes list a few AWS products with more explanation below the figure. The four red boxes are example AWS users—again using the four product phases.
AWS cloud computing and ecosystem
The above figure also has two black boxes that summarizes the core AWS cloud computing infrastructure in the top black box and the AWS ecosystem for developing cloud services for AWS customers in the middle black box.
The AWS cloud computing box list three key acronyms—IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provides cloud computing systems — including servers, storage, networking and operating software as a virtualized service. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) includes software development and system software resources, where the customers can develop their own cloud applications. SaaS-based cloud platforms run on top of IaaS and PaaS.
AWS has built a valuable software and service ecosystem for its cloud computing environment. There are hundreds of software and cloud development tools from Amazon and its partners. There are thousands of developers, builders and architects that can help create new cloud apps tailored to AWS customers’ needs and requirements.
AWS Marketplace is a digital catalog with thousands of software listings from independent software vendors that are easy to find, test, buy, and deploy on AWS. AWS Marketplace has over 10,000 products listed on the AWS website.
Another indication of the popularity of AWS is that Amazon’s virtual conference called re:Invent in December 2020 had over 570,000 attendees. Amazon’s website has excellent coverage of announcements and presentations. Amazon had 145product announcements at this conference.
AWS product examples
AWS has an expanding product offering. The following paragraph (I shortened it slightly) is how AWS explain its services as of March 2021.
Currently AWS offers over 200 services for compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, robotics, machine learning and AI, IoT, mobile, security, virtual and augmented reality, and application development, deployment, and management from 80 Availability Zones (AZs) within 24 geographic regions, with announced plans for 12 more AZs and four more AWS Regions in Indonesia, Japan, Spain, and Switzerland. Millions of customers—including the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies—trust AWS to power their infrastructure, become more agile, and lower costs.
I have listed a few of these AWS products in the four green blocks. Many of the products will work in all of the four product phases: create-make-market-use. I tried to put each product examples where the functionality seemed to have the best match.
If you need better descriptions of the 200 AWS products, the link here has separate links to each product’s functionality. It also has data on Amazon’s regions and what services are available by region. The data is updated daily. The following is a short description of the 16 product examples in the green boxes.
Auto product phases
The auto product phases are shown in the four blue boxes. If you want more perspectives, I wrote a column on this topic in November 2020: ‘Create-Make-Market-Use’ Applied to Automotive Analysis.
For software, the create or development is the most crucial phase that has a major factor in determining success. AWS has a wealth of products and services to be successful in the create phase.
In the make phase AWS is very strong for all of the traditional functions such as factory and production management. AWS also has the needed portfolio for supply chain and inventory control and can replace a company’s internal IT systems in many cases.
The AWS story is the same for the marketing phase. AWS has a wealth of product and service for sales, marketing, customer acquisition tools and dealer logistics. AWS is again in position to substitute for in-house IT systems for some companies.
The use phase is becoming a major opportunity for SaaS and cloud computing applications and it is no surprise that AWS is at the forefront for introducing and deploying these functions. The previous column has perspectives on this topic: Changing Roles of Automotive Software.
Auto customer examples
The four red boxes show examples of how some auto OEMs use AWS as their platforms. I picked four examples for each of the four phases: create-make-market-use. All of the examples are described in more details at the AWS website.
As you can see from the above data, Amazon AWS is already a formidable competitor in automotive electronics development and long-term operation during the cars’ lifetime use pattern. AWS is also taking over the IT functions in manufacturing, sales and marketing for some auto OEMs. Amazon AWS has competitors with Microsoft Azure best positioned for automotive business.
This article was originally published on EE Times.
Egil Juliussen has over 35 years’ experience in the high-tech and automotive industries. Most recently he was director of research at the automotive technology group of IHS Markit. His latest research was focused on autonomous vehicles and mobility-as-a-service. He was co-founder of Telematics Research Group, which was acquired by iSuppli (IHS acquired iSuppli in 2010); before that he co-founded Future Computing and Computer Industry Almanac. Previously, Dr. Juliussen was with Texas Instruments where he was a strategic and product planner for microprocessors and PCs. He is the author of over 700 papers, reports and conference presentations. He received B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue University, and is a member of SAE and IEEE.