How Microsoft Azure Enhanced The BMW Driver Experience

BMW is a leading car manufacturer that focuses on luxury experiences. The company has been working to connect its cars to their drivers for years now, but wanted to build a more seamless experience.

The BMW Technology Company, under the BMW Group umbrella, specialises in building connected car services. Microsoft Azure has become the foundation of the company’s Open Mobility Cloud, a group of services concentrating on integrating customers’ digital lives with their mobility needs.

The service extends the driving experience far beyond the vehicle, enabling the driver to integrate more devices, communicate with more sensors and ultimately have an easier, safer and more enjoyable end-to-end driving experience.

What Challenge was BMW Facing?

It is no new concept that digitisation will have an impact on how we live, work and travel. The way we use our cars is set to change, with a growing expectation for the services we use to connect with our personal lives, even when we are on the move. BMW wanted to rise to this challenge, transforming its cars into smart devices that were intelligently connected, seamlessly integrated and perfectly tuned. However, creating an intelligent, personalised system of services is no mean feat. The solution would need to be available anywhere and to scale to meet the demands of millions of drivers.

To create its solution, BMW needed to be able to combine machine-learned driver intents with real-time data from numerous devices. More importantly, it needed to be able to asynchronously monitor the needs of every driver and continually update its services based on its learnings.

How BMW Built its Solution with Azure

BMW used state-of-the-art cloud technology from Microsoft Azure to build a platform that could work in the background to deliver on-demand contextual and personalised services. The Open Mobility Service was created using a wide range of Microsoft services including HDInsight, WIndows SQL and Machine Learning. By combining a wide range of services, the platform is able to offer extensive intelligence capabilities that seamlessly integrate the vehicle into a user’s digital life.

Powered by the likes of machine learning and data analysis, the more frequently customers use their digital services, the more personalised the service they receive. What’s more, by using Azure’s global cloud platform, BMW can roll out the services worldwide and can quickly scale to reach customers regardless of location.

Advanced Personalisation with BMW Connected

On top of its Open Mobility Cloud program, BMW has launched its BMW Connected concept. The platform uses Microsoft Azure to process data and information from numerous sources. It is the machine learning and data analysis capabilities of Azure that enable the platform to deliver advanced personalisation and context orientation.

With the help of Azure, BMW has been able to extend mobility beyond the vehicle. The BMW Connected app forms a digital companion giving addresses, arrival times, notifications, real-time traffic information and more. All the data from the app is effortlessly imported to the BMW in-car navigation system to deliver a seamless user experience.

BMW Connected can also recognise personal mobility patterns such as the regular morning commute. If abnormal traffic conditions would make the user late, the app alerts them and calculates the required departure time. Together the machine learning-based functions make schedule planning as convenient as possible.

Increased Mobility with Azure Service Fabric

The Azure Service Fabric Actor model was the perfect solution for BMW, allowing it to seamlessly update its service with learned behaviours, scale to meet changing user demands and deal with mobile client limitations in terms of batter and background processing power.

Azure Service Fabric provides a sophisticated toolbox to create a blend of scalable stateless and stateful services to meet user needs. Azure notifications and Actor reminders enable complicated client processing to be managed in the cloud. Meanwhile, Azure Service Fabric allows rolling upgrades to be performed with no downtime.

The Open Mobility Cloud platform’s context and profile application is made up of four key Service Fabric microservices:

  • The Context API Stateless Service – allowing APIs to be implemented to inform the application of changes in user-generated locations.
  • The Driver Actor Stateful Service – keeping track of the driver’s profile information and generating relevant notifications.
  • The Location Consumer Stateless Service – responsible for pulling geo-locations and feeding them to the corresponding driver.
  • The ETA Queue Stateful Service – generating drive times based on start and end geo-locations.

Another vital piece of the puzzle is the disaster recovery and monitoring capabilities of the system. As all driver actor states are backed up to Azure Storage in another region, if a Service Fabric region goes down, it can spin up another Context and Profile subsystem elsewhere.

Can Azure Service Fabric Help Your Business?

If, like BMW, you are struggling to scale your solutions and complete service upgrades without any downtime, Azure Service Fabric can help. Azure provides automatic replication and failover capabilities that mean that if there is an error, the service can easily be rolled back to a previous version.

Meanwhile, Service Fabric Actor reminders and Azure notifications can help to offload complex client processing to the cloud. By using Azure, your business can focus on the core functionality of its applications, knowing that scalability and resilience are fully supported.

To summarise, here are the challenges, the solution and the benefits that BMW experienced:

  • Challenges – The leading car manufacturer, BMW, wanted to build a more seamless connected car experience. However, to transform its cars into smart devices, it needed to be able to scale to meet the demands of millions of drivers. Moreover, the company needed to asynchronously analyse machine-learned driver intents and real-time data from numerous devices to deliver a personalised experience.
  • Solution – BMW created the Open Mobility Cloud using Azure. The platform is intelligence and continuously learning so that it can merge the environment, context and services to address individual mobility needs.
  • Benefits – Microsoft Azure allowed BMW to build a platform that works in the background to deliver on-demand contextual and personalised services. With a wide range of services on offer from Azure, Open Mobility Cloud can provide extensive intelligence capabilities that integrate with individual mobility needs. Azure has helped BMW extend mobility beyond the vehicle with a connected app. And, thanks to Azure Service Fabric, the solution is scalable, and service upgrades can be implemented without any downtime.
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About the author

Michael Ridland is the Co-CEO and Founder of Xam Consulting.

Design-led problem solving delivering digital solutions.

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