Cloud Native/NFV

Ford Driving $200M Into New Data Center

Ford is acting more and more like a cloud computing company these days as opposed to the iconic car company of the last 100 years. The automaker announced this week that it will pour $200 million into a data center in Michigan that will support its connected vehicle and mobile investments.

The Michigan data center is part of a larger Ford investment of $1.2 billion in that state that not only includes support for manufacturing its traditional truck and car lines, but also money for more connected vehicles.

Ford expects its own data usage to increase by 1,000% over the next several years as the company collects more and more information from its fleet of connected vehicles. All that data needs to be collected, analyzed and stored, and then re-sent back to the vehicle. This means building a data center with cloud capabilities is a necessary investment even for an automaker.

"As Ford expands to be both an automotive and mobility company, the company's data storage requirements are expected to increase from 13 petabytes today to more than 200 petabytes in 2021. This is especially true as Ford grows its leadership in connectivity, autonomous vehicles, electrification and mobility services," according to a March 28 statement.

The connected car market is expected to grow to $141 billion by 2020, which translates to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 33% between 2014 and 2020, according to a recent report from Allied Market Research.

(Source: Ford)
(Source: Ford)

For carmakers such as Ford, the issue is whether it will partner with technology companies to produce this new generation of connected cars, or strike out its own and essentially transform itself into a technology company, which means that its competition is as much Google as it is General Motors.

In recent weeks, Microsoft announced that it would open its patent portfolio to automakers to apply the company's technologies to connected cars and autonomous vehicles. Toyota was the first to sign up. (See Microsoft Using Patents to Gain Edge in Connected Cars.)

In addition, Intel inked a deal to acquire Mobileye for $15.3 billion. The two companies are looking to combine their talents in the data center and cloud with sensors placed in cars to make vehicle more responsive and safer on the road, especially as they start driving themselves. (See Intel, Mobileye $15.3B deal has cloud under the hood.)

For the past several years, Ford has vested billions in its own technology capabilities.

At times, it has partnered with tech companies, such as Microsoft, to develop capabilities such as Ford Sync. In the last two years, it has started a number of other technology initiatives, ranging from Ford Smart Mobility, which uses technology to improve the customer experience, to other plans that involve software development and even smart homes.

No matter what path it's taking, Ford is now a technology company, and one where the cloud is key to its future success.

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— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

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Ariella 4/7/2017 | 11:23:04 AM
Re: Future @kq4ym You can connect bicycles for a number of key data collection reasons, including fitness, theft prevention, and finding your destination. Perhaps that is something people hear a lot about outside the US. Here it seems people are much more interested in cars. 
kq4ym 4/7/2017 | 10:11:52 AM
Re: Future It is a shame that there is not more use made for bicycles, afterall they are the world's most efficient transportation, moving folks short distances and minimal cost and almost no cost to the enviroment, But Ford will be interesting watch over the next few years as the connected vechicle movement will as noted predict that "storage requirements are expected to increase from 13 petabytes today to more than 200 petabytes in 2021. I wonder what that would be for "connected bicycles?"
Ariella 4/3/2017 | 6:05:48 PM
Re: Future @maryam One thing that Americans don't seem to have seriously gotten into the way citizens of other counries have is using bikes for commuting. I think the fact that so many of our cities are so not bike friendly and the fact that we tend to have longer commutes than our European counterparts plays a role. But even people who live within a mile or two of their work tend to drive. I even know a family that lives just a mile away from the store in which three different members work. Not only do they drive, but they each drive tehir own car over -- even though they have to pay for parking. Not really good for the environment -- even if your car is fairly green.
[email protected] 4/3/2017 | 5:47:58 PM
Re: Future  I also love classic cars as well! I think the styling is beautiful for most people who own them they are for shows or just a short drive but I do know some people that use older cars for commuting which is an environmental issue.
Ariella 4/3/2017 | 10:09:31 AM
Re: Future @Maryam I love the look of vintage cars, but they have to be older than from the 70s for me to consider them really vintage (despite what auto shows may say). Cars from the 20s 30s were particularly striking looking. Others must share the same taste and (unlike me) have the funds to indulge in it. That must have formed the market for the Excalibiur car (see the picture below -- my own photo taken in a parking lot where I first saw one and checked the data on it) It would be possible to do a reissue of any style car and buid in the connected technology, and I'm sure we will be seeing that in the


[email protected] 3/31/2017 | 11:33:55 PM
Re: Future Joe not at all elitist, I know a few people who are car buffs and want to drive older cars for the nostalgia-- not just on weekends. I completely understand the nostalgia, but for every day, it does have impacts.  Driving a car built with at least recent emissions standards will help our planet, and recent can be any timeframe since we started adjusting emissions(no Tesla required). Also using shared transportation, public transport, and other means are great ways for everyone to do their part. Last year, I saw a gas station selling super fuel that would double the mpg per car it was only available at one station and was more expensive than premium, but the math might be worth it.
Joe Stanganelli 3/31/2017 | 11:20:53 PM
Re: Future @maryam: Well, let's not be elitist here.  Somebody who actually drives a '79 Nova or a similarly old hunk of metal is probably driving all the car they can afford to drive -- which would be not very much at all. 

Not everyone can afford a Prius or a Tesla or whatever.  Sometimes you take your few hundred to couple thousand dollars and do the best you can.
[email protected] 3/31/2017 | 4:42:52 PM
Re: Future @Joe So glad I know some people who still drive those older vehicles and pollute our environment! Interesting fact about the fuel economy I guess we haven't gone that far!
Joe Stanganelli 3/31/2017 | 4:28:27 PM
Re: Future @maryam: I was kidding!  But I do favor pre-connected cars nonetheless.

Incidentally, I looked it up, and apparently a '79 Nova's fuel economy is comparable to that of modern SUVs.
[email protected] 3/31/2017 | 11:45:21 AM
Re: Future Joe that older car is terrible for the environment so please don't buy it!Connected cars do have risks but so does every other piece of technology that we use.
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