I'm sure you saw it too.
During the Super Bowl, Chevy Trucks announced that they were adding 4G LTE wi-fi. How cool. I want that (and so would my kids). I can only imagine the possibilities.
But, this is not all about my needs. Chevy and every other vehicle maker wants this too. And not for the reasons that you might first consider. Quickly, let me introduce you to the recalls of today:
- 200K Jeeps recalled for software updates (Yesterday)
- Toyota recalls 1.9M Prius vehicles for software update (Feb 2014)
- Audi recalls 200K vehicles for software glitch (Oct 2014)
But more troubling is this form of software "recall" from BMW showing a security flaw that could allow cyber criminals to unlock doors on 2.1M vehicles. Because every one of the 2.1M vehicles has the same defective software part, criminals effectively had access to a skeleton key to every one of them.
The reality is, that your new car has more software in it than you can image. And, as we know, all software has flaws. But who wants to go to a dealer to get a software update? If my car can connect to the internet and update itself, that would save me an unscheduled trip to the dealer for a repair.
Large automakers have excellent management process for their entire supply chain, and this is expanding to include their software supply chains. They know where every piece and version of their software is and who owns it. If a flaw is detected (be it quality, safety, security, or another attribute), they will now be able to automatically update that vehicle. Not only can they remove defects, automakers like Telsa are even making their cars faster.
For those of you in the software industry, this kind of evolution is at the heart of many continuous development efforts. Automate everything you can. Version everything you can. Deliver fast, improve visibility, and change fast. In many ways, the addition of 4G LTE Wi-Fi in Chevy Trucks means that DevOps has entered into our auto and software supply chains.
If you imagine an even broader perspective of this wi-fi feature and software supply chain management, the auto makers are now leading the way to expectations of quality improvements in the Internet of Things (IoT). There is not much difference between an internet enabled truck, thermostat or fitness bracelet when it comes to rapidly improving and updating quality, features, performance, etc. (I'll cover this topic more in future posts.)
What have the auto makers learned from the software industry? And perhaps more importantly -- when it comes to software supply chain management and continuous delivery -- what can we learn from them?