Digital transformation of the BMW Group

Skaylink supports the digital transformation of the BMW Group

A recent survey of German companies with 20 or more employees by the industry association bitkom revealed that a whopping 83% of companies are driving their digitization with the help of a dedicated strategy. That’s a big leap from 2020, when as many as 26% of companies had no digital strategy at all.

The renowned BMW Group is a digital pioneer among Germany’s flagship companies. It is not only breaking new ground in electromobility, but also in IT infrastructure: Flexibility, speed, and sufficient resources are decisive factors for competitive corporate IT in an increasingly networked and digitally mobile age. For example, the BMW Group has announced that it will be relying heavily on public clouds for its digital strategy. The scale of the digitization project poses particular challenges.

In order to see through such an ambitious project, the BMW Group sought support from cloud architects with experience setting up multiple clouds. The following article describes why Skaylink was chosen as one of the selected partners for the offering, provides a detailed overview of how the IT service looks, and explains the significant role that it plays in the digital transformation of the BMW Group.

The pitch process

In February 2021, Skaylink’s designated service team received the first tender documents from the BMW Group. The Munich-based manufacturer has prescribed a new multi-provider model. Skaylink gladly agreed to participate in this model in cooperation with other IT partners. Skaylink’s Silvio Kleesattel, technology and innovation lead, as well as Helmut Weiss, cloud architect, and Daniel Wieder, IT service manager in the Delivery department, are technically responsible for the offering. Henning Breyer, Key Account Management Lead, and therefore very familiar with the requirements of the automotive industry, is the key account manager for the project. The four are supported by a team of DevOps and cloud specialists who handle the concrete implementation of the offering.

In order to define the scope of the offering, the BMW Group had prepared reference examples for each affected division along with estimates of the required effort. The team used so-called “T-shirt sizes” to classify the implementation of the migration offerings for each hyperscaler. In agile project management, T-shirt sizing helps facilitate capacity planning and allows teams to think of workloads in more than one dimension (e.g., time), which is in contrast to rigid, numerical estimation techniques. In addition, after the initial offer had been submitted, a task and solution were to be presented in the pitch.

Overall, the Skaylink team, together with four other providers, was able to successfully set itself apart from well over a dozen participants in the competition. Specifically, the Skaylink team won the Cloud Migration & Enabling as well as Cloud Consulting & Training areas of the tender for both AWS and Azure. The contract was signed in mid-June 2021, so that the offering could start on July 1.

Silvio Kleesattel
Technology and Innovation Lead at Skaylink

“Thanks to its digital strategy, the BMW Group is one step ahead of many other companies along its cloud journey. The uniform standards, structures, and processes that have been created make it particularly easy for employees to get started, including on both the business and developer sides.”

The background

Skaylink helps the BMW Group in its quest to achieve a public cloud. To this end, thousands of applications need to be migrated and know-how transferred. The heart of this transformation process is the Fit4Cloud initiative. Above all, it should help to reduce complexity, by being installed on turnkey platform services, for example. No area of the company remains unaffected by the transformation, extending from the assembly lines in the company’s plants to the in-house BMW bank. The complexity ranges from internal systems that can be migrated relatively easily to systems in highly regulated environments that must meet special requirements. 

The cloud strategy is intended to help scale the IT landscape, which is already growing rapidly. Its growth rate is so fast that local, company-owned data centers will sooner or later not be able to meet the demand. Thanks to the cloud, resources are needs-based and highly available, i.e., practically fail-safe and retrievable around the globe. For example, offers can now be set up quickly at locations where it would not be worthwhile to have your own infrastructure.

When it comes to the cloud, the BMW Group clearly relies on the large hyperscalers Azure and AWS. Speaking of which, that’s another reason for the company’s public cloud-first strategy: ability to innovate. R&D investments in hyperscalers are neither profitable nor realistic for a single company whose core business is not in running IT infrastructure. Thanks to Azure and AWS, which set the standards for the cloud, the BMW Group can always benefit from the latest services and updates from the public cloud platforms. Last but not least, the managed services also take a burden off the IT team of the BMW Group.

Skaylink’s role in IT service

Skaylink has the necessary (human) resources and cloud skills to successfully implement the offering for the BMW Group. This is where Skaylink’s strategy of joining forces with other like-minded companies and creating a modern front runner for all European cloud service providers is paying off. Thanks to Skaylink’s bundled and extensive know-how in both Azure and AWS, the BMW Group can obtain advice and implementation services from a single provider.

Content of the offering

The offering can essentially be divided into two areas:

  • Cloud migration & enabling: This is about defining the necessary steps for the respective applications to be migrated in dialog with the BMW Group teams.
  • Cloud consulting & training: This part of the offering is all about making BMW Group employees prepared for the cloud.

Cloud migration & enabling

Under the so-called “Cloud Architecture Hours” program, teams at the BMW Group can book 90-minute cloud architecture consultation meetings two days a week, where the requirements for relevant applications will be written down. These are estimated and documented using T-shirt sizes. Thanks to this system, work packages are defined for the selected external providers, and they are implemented in close coordination with the responsible product owners at the BMW Group.

These work packages range from the migrating legacy applications according to the 6 R’s of cloud migration (from “rearchitect” to “retire”) to the implementation of modern software architecture concepts, such as containerization. In some cases, it ranges from the transformation of entire IT architectures to prototyping. The biggest challenge during the migration is the translation of company-specific guidelines and regulations into technical solutions.

Cloud consulting & training

In this part of the offering, the focus is on introducing and accustoming the workforce to using the cloud in order to ensure greater acceptance. For this purpose, the Skaylink team develops training courses at the hypervisor level, i.e., the software-based abstraction level above the underlying infrastructure. In addition, cloud specialists also conduct hands-on training with BMW Group teams, e.g., as coding dojos. The level of cloud experience of employees at the BMW Group can sometimes vary widely. The level of the company-specific cloud training is tailored to the respective target group.

Successful recent examples

BMW Bank: The in-house bank, whose primary business is financing vehicle purchases, was faced with the task of migrating an application that would perform core tasks, such as calculating loan installments. The numerous individual applications on which the system is based and the strict regulatory environment governing the banking sector made the task particularly challenging. The teams from Skaylink and the BMW Group have already worked out a detailed migration strategy for this part of the offering.

Daniel Wieder
 IT Service Manager at Skaylink  

“Skaylink can demonstrate its full potential in working for the BMW Group, since it can deliver a wide variety of offerings that are complex. Thanks to our mergers with leading cloud players, we and therefore the customer can benefit from our combined expertise.”

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