Why the world’s largest automaker is building future IT on OpenStack

Behind ​Volkswagen Group's shift to OpenStack

Volkswagen Group, the world’s largest motor vehicle manufacturer, whose 12 brands produce 41,000 vehicles per day from 119 plants worldwide, is implementing a new corporate private cloud IT infrastructure based on OpenStack to serve all group companies.

The Volkswagen group comprises Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Ducati, Lamborghini, Man, Neoplan Porsche, Seat, Scania, Skoda, Volkswagen cars and Volkswagen commercial vehicles. It employs 600,000 people and has production facilities in 40 countries.

Mario Mueller, Volkswagen Group’s corporate director IT operational services and infrastructure technologies, told the OpenStack Summit in Austin, Texas, this week that the company had started implementing OpenStack -- a collection of open source software projects that allow users to develop and manage a cloud infrastructure in a data centre -- as the open cloud platform for all new applications across the group in mid 2015.

He said the move to OpenStack was aimed at standardising the IT environment across the group and streamlining IT delivery and application development.

The company has chosen OpenStack as the open cloud platform for all new applications.

“We started this journey in mid 2015. We launched or first OpenStack environment at the end of 2015. Our second will be launched in mid-2016,” Mueller said.

“We have a very heterogeneous IT infrastructure and we have to improve our work streams,” he said.

“We have to get more automation and we have to standardise our IT infrastructure and applications.

“We have to speed up the delivery of IT to the business. Right now we are too slow. We have to get much faster. And besides that we have to reduce costs. That means we must re-invent our IT infrastructure.”

VW is using OpenStack to support an infrastructure as a service layer and on top this, Cloud Foundry to support platform as a service. It is working with Mirantis, a company that provides an OpenStack distribution along with services, training and support for rolling out and running OpenStack.

Mueller said OpenStack was already supporting “our new car configurator, an application platform for our users, with smart production analytics, 3D rendering, and many, many other things.”

Volkswagen Group recently opened a new data centre and plans to install, for systems running OpenStack, some 900 processor cores, 260TB of RAM and 2500TB of storage.

“We will spread this environment around the world, to China, to APAC to the Americas,” Mueller said.

“The VW group is committed to being cloud-first with all our new developments.”

The author attended the OpenStack Summit as a guest of the OpenStack Forum

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