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Multi-Cloud News & Highlights

Paving the way for Industry 4.0 and Industrial IoT

VMware is known worldwide as a leading virtualization partner for data centers. VMware now applies this technology expertise to the factory environment, enabling not only the digitization of manufacturing, but also a seamless transition between IT and OT environments.

Author: Alexandra Baleta, Manufacturing & Automotive Industry Director

We spoke with companies in the manufacturing industry about the challenges they currently face, and it quickly became clear that legacy systems and complex, individual OT landscapes in production sites are the main obstacle to becoming more efficient, agile, and resilient.  New market needs, however, prompt companies to kick off a transformation as quickly as possible, examine their business model (and adjust it where necessary or appropriate), and consistently and continuously drive digitization.  The biggest pain points touch on the need to become resilient and more secure during the transformation while, at the same time, open up further and become increasingly integrated given that the market and the expanded ecosystem demand companies to implement these changes.  The latter is important, especially in view of the transformation in the automotive industry with CASE (connected, autonomous, shared, electric) trends, given that automotive manufacturers and suppliers are switching from being product-based companies to being service and technology oriented, and the networking and exchange of data in the extended ecosystem are core criteria to secure growth and new sources of revenue.

Strategic digitization partner for manufacturing companies

In 2021 VMware has started to invest in a vertical approach and focus on “manufacturing” in Germany, addressing the challenges of industrial companies in the automotive and aircraft industries, in the mechanical/metal engineering industries, in the chemical industry, and in the production of consumer goods.

VMware not only provides technology expertise ranging from factory edge to core and multi-cloud solutions, but also offers consultation services as a strategic partner to its manufacturing customers. After all, digitization not only demands innovative technological solutions, but also a transformation in terms of processes and culture with the objective of streamlining IT and OT and improving operational efficiencies.

As part of its commitment to the industry, VMware is also an active member of high-level networks and standardization bodies. These affiliations help shape and develop standards and engage in approaches to innovative solutions, such as an open manufacturing architecture. For example, VMware has been a member of the European cloud initiative Gaia X since it was launched and recently also became a member of Catena-X. VMware is also an active member of the Open Manufacturing Platform (OMP) and participates in the Industry 4.0 Platform by providing continuous feedback and food for thought on technological requirements.

VMware also leverages the industry expertise and competence of its strategic partners (hardware, software, and cloud service providers and consultancies such as Dell, HPE, NVIDIA, Microsoft, AWS, Atos, or Accenture) as part of its verticalization efforts, a strategy that ensures it can successfully deliver overarching solutions to its customers. Industrial groups with a global footprint and a complex IT/OT landscape are the companies that can benefit most from VMware’s agnostic and holistic approach and attain added value.

This year’s VMworld showcased the partner portfolio, together with innovation and transformation opportunities: take the virtual factory planning tool at BMW for example, a solution offered by NVIDIA and VMware. Together with NVIDIA, VMware has implemented the virtual factory commissioned by the BMW Group, a solution that combines virtual planning and engineering for highly complex manufacturing systems and production plants on a modern, digitized platform.

Connecting different applications and assets into a digital production twin allows for maximum simulation and planning capability, increases the speed, precision, and efficiency of the production planning process. The virtual factory planning tool integrates a wide array of planning data and applications and enables real-time collaboration combined with full compatibility. Thanks to these features, the planning processes are 30 percent more efficient, and the Munich-based automotive group can open up to new prospects on digital planning and the operation of digital twins. VMware sees the solution as a flagship project and a blueprint for many use cases in the manufacturing industry – and one that also unlocks an important step in the digitization of automotive manufacturing.

In addition to its world-renowned and leading technology portfolio, VMware has now started to expand its services in the industrial sector with the launch of an edge compute stack in October. This edge offering not only addresses the needs of the industry in terms of edge native application management, Edge infrastructure management, intrinsic security, and real-time data management, but also enables innovative approaches that both accelerate the digital transformation mentioned earlier and making manufacturing processes more efficient.

Edge computing increases productivity, flexibility, and resilience

More and more companies are now realizing that edge computing is becoming increasingly important for building operational intelligence based on production processes and product data in an effort to significantly strengthen competitiveness. These encompass innovations in real-time data management on an ESX-RT host and a powerful edge compute stack that enables the seamless operation of applications and software-defined infrastructure, from edge computing to core and including multi-cloud solutions. This supplies companies with the flexibility and independence they need to expand their position in a highly interconnected world.

At the same time, VMware is well aware that manufacturers cannot ignore their longstanding heritage next to digitization initiatives, migration to cloud or cloud native solutions. The company also offers an application life cycle management and platform strategy that allows legacy IT and modern apps to operate simultaneously. This transformation enables the modernization, porting, or refactoring of applications without the need to commit to specific cloud environments. Once again, VMware’s agnostic and holistic approach is paramount.

The bottom line is that VMware has proven and extensive technology expertise, understands the needs of the manufacturing industry and has been helping many of its customers to transform and digitize without risk and at the desired pace. It is positioning itself as a strategic technology partner for large corporations and upper mid-size companies. VMware supports the digitization and convergence of IT and OT to enhance the resilience, agility, and security of its customers, and helps them accelerate industrial change effectively and without risk.

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