Microsoft, BMW introduce industrial cloud technology partnership

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Microsoft and BMW Group on Tuesday introduced an initiative to create an Open Manufacturing Platform that seeks to refresh innovation and speed up the development of ‘smart’ factories.

It’s the second alliance of its kind in a week following the alliance of Volkswagen and Amazon Web Services to connect the German automaker’s 122 group plants to enhance production systems and processes.

Both deals show a push by ‘hyperscale’ cloud computing providers to capture and handle the terabytes of data thrown off by the network of connected devices including robots and sensors that make up the so-called Internet of Things (IoT).

“Microsoft is joining forces with the BMW Group to change digital production efficiency across the industry,” Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Microsoft Cloud + AI Group, stated of the alliance that was declared during the Hanover Messe industrial trade fair.

“Our commitment to building an open community will create new opportunities for working together across the entire manufacturing value chain.”

The platform is going to be built on the Microsoft Azure IIoT cloud platform, which BMW already utilizes. Its reference architecture will be based on open-source standards, an approach designed to urge other partners to join in.

Microsoft, in a statement, stated the goal was to have an initial set of four to six partners in place by the end of this year and at least 15 initial use cases deployed in a production setting.

BMW already has 3,000 machines, robots and autonomous transport systems associated with its own IIoT platform that is constructed on Microsoft Azure. It stated it would contribute some of its first use cases to the project.

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