Blog post

Must-Have Combination: DevOps and Cloud Computing in Automotive Industry

Where's the hype on the combo of DevOps and cloud computing in automotive industry? Isn't it beneficial enough to become industry's next normal?

February 26, 2021

7 mins read

Our competitors no longer just make cars. Companies like Google, Apple, and even Facebook are what I think about at night

Akio Toyoda, President of the Toyota Motor Corporation, at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2018

And he was right. Gone are the days when cars were all about metal and mechanics.

Today, modern cars turned into two-ton smart devices, with some of them boasting over 300M lines of code. To some extent, modern car manufacturers have become software companies. It’s no wonder some of them either have adopted or are looking to adopt software development practices and technologies such as DevOps and cloud computing in automotive industry.

But what does this combo hold for automakers?

  • DevOps as a must-have for automotive digital transformation
  • Automotive industry and cloud: Accelerating product time to market
  • How can automakers apply DevOps and cloud in automotive industry? Which challenges does this combo solve, and how?
  • Vehicle cloud computing and DevOps help OEMs overcome these challenges

DevOps as a must-have for automotive digital transformation

Software is powering modern vehicles. However, it’s still a tough cookie for many OEMs, which explains a vast number of cars affected by software-related recalls:

Must-Have Combination: DevOps and Cloud Computing in Automotive Industry

Source: NHTSA Database

Still, building a bug-free product is not enough. With tech developing at a fast-paced rate, even a “perfect” code becomes out-of-date very soon. But how can you stay competitive if the IT progress is faster than it takes to build a car? That’s where DevOps comes into play.

Simply put, DevOps promotes collaboration between those who build the product (developers) and those who deploy and manage (operations). Such convergence allows OEMs to adapt to changes during the development process and after the release. The latter sets DevOps apart from other Agile approaches, which are focused exclusively on development and testing.

As shown in the image, with DevOps, planning, development, testing, and deployment are continuous processes throughout the entire product lifecycle.

Must-Have Combination: DevOps and Cloud Computing in Automotive Industry

Source: Big Data School

OEMs that have already adopted DevOps practices report on the following improvements:

  • Reduced time to market
  • Quality improvement even after the product release
  • Increased efficiency
  • Fast experimentation
  • Customer satisfaction

DevOps can help OEMs keep up with the ever-changing standards, customer expectations, and competitors that never sleep. With all these benefits, it has become a must-have practice in the modern automotive industry.

Automotive industry and cloud: Accelerating product time to market

Both DevOps and cloud computing are a compilation of different technologies that help you transform your legacy processes into a well-oiled “machine.” In automotive, cloud technology can accelerate your product time-to-market. Below are a few examples of how:

  • In DevOps, collaboration is everything. Cloud enables collaboration between distributed teams scattered around the globe. Besides, when used together with version control systems, cloud solutions allow simultaneous development without sending files back and forth.
  • To ensure that the vehicle is safe and caters to the customer needs, OEMs spend considerable chunks of time testing, which is one of the main reasons it takes so long to build a car. Luckily, cloud computing allows creating experimental test environments without the necessity to develop, maintain, and scale physical hardware. Within the DevOps setup, testing (and other processes) is continuous and doesn’t end even after product release, so virtual testing environments like these are mission-critical.
  • On top of that, the on-demand nature of cloud technology frees OEM development teams from the necessity to build physical servers (which takes time) for their automotive software solutions.

The cloud isn’t a must-have part of DevOps. But it makes the implementation simpler at each development stage. Thus, vehicle cloud computing technologies help DevOps teams accelerate time-to-market or reduce downtime. Such benefits confirm the benefits of the automotive industry and cloud aligned.

How can automakers apply DevOps and cloud in automotive industry? Which challenges does this combo solve, and how?

As the previous paragraphs suggest, automotive cloud technology and DevOps practices are vital for all those automakers who are looking to stay competitive today. But what issues specifically do DevOps and cloud help OEMs address? Let’s unpack this below.

Data-related complications

Problem. Modern software-driven vehicles generate and collect tons of data. This information goes beyond the driving data like speed or braking patterns. OEMs also collect location information, credit card data, music preferences, search history, voice commands, and beyond through navigation and infotainment systems. This way, they ensure a more personalized and safer driving experience. However, their approach to collecting data also entails the following challenges:

  • Potential cyberattacks

In our tech age, data is the new gold. It can be bought, sold, or used against both a driver and an OEM. No wonder that with the rise of self-driving and connected cars (known for huge data collection volumes), the number of cyberattacks keeps increasing at an exponential rate.

Must-Have Combination: DevOps and Cloud Computing in Automotive Industry

Source: Upstream Security

  • Compliance complications

The sudden rise in cyberattacks within the automotive domain didn’t go unnoticed by regulatory institutions, which led to a wave of new data privacy and security regulations in 2018 and 2019. While the necessity for compliance creates new business and operational challenges for OEMs, non-compliance can be more disastrous with steep fines, potential civil liability, and even the loss of consumer trust (yes, consumers keep prioritizing their privacy).

  • Data storage challenges

Given that only car sensors can generate up to 25 gigabytes of data per hour, OEMs face two more challenges. First, all this data should be stored somewhere, which implies building, maintaining, and regularly scaling data storage. Second, this data should stay intact in the view of potential natural calamities and other external factors.

Solution. DevSecOps (development, security, and operations) is a practice that prioritizes safety within DevOps. Here, security covers both compliance and protection against potential cyberattacks. Within the DevSecOps methodology, security is the responsibility of the entire development team, not just security experts.

Although DevSecOps shifts focus on security at the earlier stages, the practice ensures that software is continuously monitored for threats and compliance after the product release. Thus, the software is immune to cyberattacks and remains 100% compliant 24/7.

Automotive cloud technology rolls in when it comes to data storage issues. Even in case of an earthquake or a storm, your data will remain safe and intact.

Infrastructure complexities

Problem.Today’s vehicles rely on numerous sensors to ensure safe driving — embedded devices designed to sense continually changing surroundings. OEMs have to test them out under variable conditions to validate their reliability, requiring building complex testing environments.

What’s more, testing challenges are just the peak of the iceberg when it comes to infrastructure complexities in the automotive industry. Building a car, especially a connected one, has always required high compute capabilities at every production milestone. Setting up, maintaining, and scaling such infrastructures on-premises is exceptionally time-consuming and cost-prohibitive.

Thus, infrastructure challenges don’t just slow down time-to-market. They also result in high production costs.

Solution. Automotive cloud technology solutions will free your developers from the necessity to build, maintain, monitor, and scale complex in-house IT setup. Cloud providers will care about everything at a relatively low price. Besides, cloud solutions are almost endlessly scalable, so you don’t have to invest in additional hardware as you grow.

The same applies to testing environments. The ability to create testing simulators in the cloud gives infinite room for experiments and product improvement.

As a result, cloud computing in the automotive industry accelerates time-to-market (especially DevOps practices) and decreases production costs.

The necessity to improve your product even after release

Problem. In today’s automotive industry, improving a vehicle isn’t confined to dealing with hardware. The process often implies building and deploying software updates. But while it used to be relatively simple to implement updates and add new features in the early 2010s, software development and deployment became more demanding lately.

Today, requirements are changing not just during the product development but also right after its release. The reasons can be varying:

  • Shifts in customer expectations
  • Cyberattacks becoming more sophisticated
  • Sudden updates in regulations as described above

So, OEMs have to find ways to update their software on the fly with minimal downtime.

Still, another problem is that deploying updates regularly without the right infrastructure could increase app bugs and errors. With the advent of AI and self-driving cars, a single software error can have disastrous consequences.

Thus, OEMs look for ways to adapt to these ever-changing requirements without compromising driver safety and data security.

Solution. DevOps is an Agile approach that allows OEMs to adapt to changing requirements at every product development stage. Besides, unlike other Agile practices, it is all about monitoring and improving a product even after its release.

And that’s where vehicle cloud computing provides connected cars with the ability to implement changes over-the-air (OTA). With OTA updates, any updates are made remotely, automatically, and in real-time.

Vehicle cloud computing and DevOps help OEMs overcome these challenges

While using DevOps and cloud computing in automotive industry (specifically in dedicated software development) seems like a profitable combo for OEMs, leveraging it in the automotive industry is anything but easy and straightforward. To reap the benefits of shorter manufacturing-to-market time, lower development costs, and service errors, implementing DevOps practices would require careful planning and innovation.

For example, to find the right cloud-based DevOps approach for your business needs, you should collect and analyze specific performance metrics, including:

Must-Have Combination: DevOps and Cloud Computing in Automotive Industry

Source: The State of DevOps Report

You should then compare your current results with industry standards and your personal goals to find the right path towards them. Sounds overwhelming?

You can outsource all these tasks to software vendors and tech startups specializing in automotive cloud-based DevOps practices.

With 18 years of experience creating software and over 1500 engineers worldwide, Intellias knows how to make the combination of DevOps and cloud computing in automotive industry serve its purpose: ensuring high quality of automotive software even after its release and shortening the development lifecycle.
Just look at how DevOps and cloud computing co-exist under the same roof in our two projects:

Drop us a line, and we’ll help you find the right way towards your digital infrastructure transformation.

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