Alibaba Cloud and Siemens on Friday reached an agreement to launch the latter’s MindSphere cloud platform in China’s mainland by the end of Q1 2019.
It builds on an agreement between the two companies signed in July for industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in the country.
“We are encouraging our customers around the world to embrace the digital age, with over 250 digital offerings and more than one million connected assets, built on our large installed base around the globe,” said Jan Mrosik, CEO of Digital Factory Division at Siemens AG.
“MindSphere on Alibaba Cloud will enable enterprises in Chinese mainland to leverage the opportunities of the Internet of Things and accelerate the industrial progress of the country.”
‘Digital twins’ and smart cities
MindSphere is described by Siemens as an operating system for the Internet of Things and “a Swiss army knife for all connected machines and devices”. Using sensors, the system connects customers’ products to the digital world to create “digital twins”. It then collects, stores, and analyses data to provide insights, letting companies optimise their products.
Siemens said that cities and societies can profit from MindSphere, through application such as through the pro-active maintenance of trains, optimisation of traffic flows, and on decentralised energy systems.
Alibaba Cloud said both companies will also jointly foster IIoT partners. They plan to offer trainings and deliver apps for industrial customers in China.
Shine reports that MindSphere is currently unprofitable and that Siemens will inject most of its research and development spend to invest in the platform, citing Lin Bin, vice president of Siemens China.
Siemens’ MindSphere can also play an important role in the Chinese government’s plan of connecting millions of enterprises to the cloud platform, the VP reportedly said.
Siemens acquired software platform Mendix last month for $730 million. Siemens said the deal will help its cusomters adopt MindSphere faster by accelerating cloud-based application development.
Alibaba and SAP announced at Alibaba’s Computing Conference 2018 this week that they are offering SAP’s products on Alibaba Cloud’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) in China.
SAP CEO Bill McDermott told CNBC that the deal with Alibaba could be a billion-dollar partnership and called China SAP’s “second home”.
Alibaba also announced cloud partnerships with Intel, VMware, IHG at the conference, among others. The partnership with Intel includes the launch of the Joint Edge Computing Platform open architecture for IoT applications.
The Chinese giant also announced partnerships with Bosch, Volvo, and Ford for self-parking vehicle systems, upgraded car-to-home AI services, and new automobiles equipped with AliOS, the company’s operating system for smart services.