Siemens-AWS Partnership Further Bolsters Mindsphere Digital Solutions

At the AWS re:Invent event this week, thousands of Amazonians and ecosystem partners gather to participate in another record-breaking AWS event with over 65,000 attendees. From developers to large OEMs, there is a buzz with the possibilities of a cloud-enabled innovation. Siemens is one such partner announcing that the latest release of MindSphere, the company’s open cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) operating system, will be hosted for the first time on Amazon Web Services (AWS). This provides the ability to develop robust industrial IoT solutions on a shorter timeline for customers across various industries.

Steve Bashada, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Cloud and Data Services sat down with me to share his excitement, enthusiasm and the Siemens vision with this announcement. Steve prefaced that Mindsphere and its digital solution set is the most important milestone for Siemens in the last 20 years of the company’s storied 170-year history. The AWS partnership is a good fit due to AWS’ strong performance, reliability, scalability and global reach. In addition, the Mindsphere open platform and native cloud services from Amazon allows developers to utilize a variety of off-the-shelf or customizable tools, APIs from Siemens and AWS alike. This is a conscious choice allowing developers from all domains and organizations to bring their domain expertise and build from those tool sets in an deep and effective manner. This is an invitation for all industrial developers to participate in this new ecosystem to drive value in digital Mindsphere apps and analytics.

It’s important to note that Siemens is a software company. When most people think of Siemens, they think of wind turbines, trains or energy solutions. 
However, Siemens is a top 10 software company and has brought onboard more than 20,000 software engineers and invested billions in software companies in recent years. Decades ago, Siemens made a strategic shift in understanding the value of industrial design and simulation for the production of its own OEM equipment. They leveraged AI and Deep Learning to get feedback loops on industrial equipment for decades as well, and we should all take note of the value they bring to the table.

Siemens’ value is a much more holistic view when discussing IoT. It is really Industrial IoT, but they think broader in the perspective of the digitization solutions and data-driven insights. It’s an extension of their Team Center Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution, which is an information management system that can integrate data, processes, business systems and, ultimately, people in an extended enterprise. PLM software allows you to manage this information throughout the entire lifecycle of a product efficiently and cost-effectively, from ideation, design and manufacture, through service and disposal. Thus, from Computer-Assisted Design (CAD) drawings, to embedded electrical and firmware design; Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM), it can form the basis of the “digital twin”. This provides the digital designed product, but it doesn’t stop there, we can add in the digital production layer, or “production twin” in order to digitally render the best way in which we should assemble or produce the product. After the real product is performing in the field, the feedback loop of the “performance twin” is fed back into the system so one can see the real field performance versus the expected performance when you designed it. This is a new level of data-driven product management, where products will not only come to market faster (as they are digitally created versus physically prototyped), but also benchmark product development. This insight extends to the business as you can see how things are actually being used versus predefined market requirements that differ from field-user reality. This entire chain is what some refer to as the “digital thread”.

If you are looking at connectivity and IoT domain expertise, you couple industrial use cases, automation products, control systems and this new software focus brings a very deep understanding of how digital solutions can be truly integrated, Siemens is provided a very strong value proposition. They have 30 million automation systems, 70 Million contracted smart meters and 800,000 products like turbines or trains as an installed base. It’s exciting as it’s a true integration of rich domain, engineering and software expertise in the Industrial IoT and digital spheres.