Ford drives connected car journey with Microsoft Azure

The Microsoft Azure cloud will be used to power Ford's new software delivery and vehicle monitoring service

The Ford Motor Company is partnering with Microsoft to widen the scope of its connected car plans using the software giant’s Azure cloud platform.

The pair have teamed up to create the Ford Service Delivery Network, which will deliver over-the-air software updates to vehicles for performance-enhancing reasons.

Typically, these updates have relied on USB technology for their delivery.

Microsoft said the service, due to go live later this year, will also enable car owners to keep tabs on the location and status of their vehicles, for example by remotely checking fuel level, tyre pressures and battery health.

According to a Reuters report, Don Butler, executive director of connected vehicle and services at Ford, said the technology will also pave the way to gather more data from motorists about their driving habits.

“This will increase our ability to understand the user experience inside the vehicle… with the informed permission of customers,” he said.

In a blog post announcing the burgeoning partnership, Sanjay Ravi, senior director of worldwide manufacturing at Microsoft, said Azure had been chosen to underpin the service because it can scale in line with the demands of Ford’s customer base.

“Microsoft’s cloud platform offers Ford the scale and commitment to security it needs to support its global operations,” said Ravi.

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“The expansive global footprint of Azure datacentres provides the backbone to support Ford’s vehicles anywhere  in the world.”

Ravi said Microsoft was also working with other motor manufacturers to support the rise of the connected car movement.

“Microsoft is devoted to helping automotive companies use their brand and data to create ongoing relationships with customers,” he said.

“We are powering connected car innovations from the cloud platform, to data analytics capabilities, to the software that lights up all of the consumer experiences.

“We are the technology partner to help the auto industry bring its cars into the mobile-first, cloud-first world.”

This is not the first time Ford and Microsoft have joined forces, having previously worked together to create an in-car infotainment system called Sync, based on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform.

However, that partnership ended in December 2014 with the news that Ford was dumping Microsoft for BlackBerry and its QNX operating system.

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