Sramana Mitra: What about the automotive side?
Lori Sylvia: For automotive right now, there is a strong interest that is coming for mobile software management, and that is to be able to have the ability to remotely manage the software assets inside the car. It is moving to the digital cluster as well as to what is called electronic control units. In an average car today there are somewhere between 50 and 80 of these ECUs [engine control units] that control things like the power windows, and these all have software.
As I said before, the amount of software in cars is increasing significantly. Car manufacturers thus want a comprehensive solution to be able to perform software management remotely. The reason is they can significantly save the money that they spend on warranty cost to the dealers. During the first two to three years that you own a car, when the car is under warranty, any time you have an issue, you bring it back to the dealer. As long as the car is sitting in the service bay of the dealer, the dealer is able to charge back the service cost to the car maker. But the issues inside of the car are increasingly non-mechanical. They can be resolved with software updates. Car dealers see that this is a way where they can provide a more convenient maintenance experience to their consumers as well as reduce the cost of warranty.
Another strong demand coming from automotive is for virtualization technology, as a way to consolidate the amount of hardware inside a car. Because if you have a lighter car, you have a more fuel-efficient car. Another reason to use virtualization technologies inside cars is to provide a level of security because what you will have in these in-vehicle entertainment systems is some kind of high-level operating system. These are connected to Internet services. But these systems are also part of the head units of the car. Those are the same units that control critical functions of the car. They can use virtualization technology to provide this kind of isolation between the critical and safety systems from the more entertainment-oriented software inside the car.
SM: What is the assumption in terms of configuration? In the enterprise and carrier scenarios, there are built-in wireless connectivity. But are you assuming that there is built-in wireless connectivity in cars?
LS: Yes and no. If you want to be able to update the telematics or the entertainment system inside the car, increasingly those are connected. But if you want to provide maintenance services on the ECUs, it doesn’t need to be done over the air. If you bring your car back to the dealer, the dealer connects your car through a computer.
SM: So it is not happening on a continuous basis. The assumption is that the car will be brought back to the dealer. It is more about making the job of the dealer smoother, faster, more efficient, and less expensive.
LS: Yes. If your car is still at the dealer, and it is connected through a cable to the dealer’s platform management system, we can reduce the maintenance time by 50%. That is still a lot of savings and a lot of benefit to the consumer. But you could envision, in the not-too-distant future, where you might just drive your car into the dealer’s parking lot and instead of having to schedule people coming in at different times, you can service a lot more cars, and more quickly. So, there are also benefits for the dealers and service technicians.