It’s happening now. We are living through the biggest transition in the transportation industry since the horse-drawn carriage gave way to the internal combustion engine. The Internet of Things and the connected autonomous car will affect all aspects of our automotive experience, from what we drive to how we drive it. The increasing focus of automobile manufacturers on innovations in mobility and mobility services is reflected in many aspects of car design, from connectivity to autonomous driving. Read on to learn how NetApp® StorageGRID® Webscale is helping the automotive industry make this transition.


As part of this digitization trend, automotive systems are shifting, like other industries, from hardware to software platforms, from products to services, and from a capex to an opex economy. The overriding goal is how to monetize the huge datasets that are continually collected from every aspect of driving.  A single autonomous test car creates between 5 and 50 terabytes a day. At the rate of innovation across the globe, you can begin to see the enormity of  the task of storing and analyzing that data. This task is further complicated by the complex interactions between the cars and the centrally managed data processing. Much of the immediate processing occurs in the car, while the deep analytics and learning algorithms are performed in the data center.


Let me explain the value that NetApp adds with a real-world customer example. Deep neural network machine learning for autonomous driving is typically done with large Hadoop clusters or other batch processing analytics systems. If we attempt to address this requirement with a high-performance primary storage solution, the size of the data store simply makes that alternative cost prohibitive after only a couple of months of data ingestion.


A better alternative for these extreme analytic processing applications is a storage system that can support data storage at a very large scale and at a much lower price point, and that also ensures that the data is in the right location at the right time and at the most cost-effective tier.


NetApp StorageGRID Webscale is designed to meet these requirements. StorageGRID is able to store data very efficiently at large petabyte scale and at a price lower than external cloud-based solutions.   But the real value of StorageGRID is its policy-based engine, which ensures that data is in a high-performance storage tier for analytic applications; then postprocessing can automatically move the data to a more cost-effective tier for archiving.


The data tiers can also span both public and private clouds. Once your content is in a global repository such as StorageGRID, it can be moved automatically to the right location and tier. Public cloud is one of those locations. Having StorageGRID manage where your copies reside, as well as when to move the copies, gives you a measure of cloud independence. StorageGRID also offers a private cloud option for content that must be on premises for reasons of performance and sovereignty.


Data privacy, availability, and sovereignty are key considerations for the automotive industry. When you consider the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements in combination with autonomous driving, the need for data security is clear. Using the StorageGRID policy engine, application-defined metadata tags can automatically specify where data is distributed, protected, or even deleted to ensure compliance.


For example, one of our automotive customers here in Germany is using the StorageGRID policy engine to make data available to development teams located in different countries so that each team has local, high-performance access to the datasets that are relevant. Having data assets immediately available enables faster development cycles and is therefore is a key aspect of delivering innovative products and services.


StorageGRID is a great fit for storing large amounts of data, and also for enabling distributed research or development teams to access data to drive more innovation.


If you’re interested in learning more about StorageGRID, please listen to my discussion with Clemens Siebler about the storage needs of automotive companies. You can also visit, where you’ll find lots of information about StorageGRID and how it can help with your automotive solutions.



Remember, the next car you drive may have been developed using NetApp!

Stefan Ebener

Dr. Stefan Ebener focuses on innovative solutions for digitization, mobility services and the Internet of Things. He is responsible for setting up and managing the European vertical "Automotive & Manufacturing". As a strategy & innovation manager of this vertical, he also deals with the topics "Machine Learning for Autonomous Driving" and "Data Analytics". Next to his life at NetApp, he is a freelance lecturer for business informatics and holds a PhD from the University of Católica San Antonio de Murcia.

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