Making eMotion green: An IBM SmartCloud platform for electric cars

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Activities such as Tesla Motors’ electric cars, BMW’s i3 announcement or Renault’s collaboration with Bolloré are creating a lot of attention for electric vehicles. Statements from governments, like German chancellor Angela Merkel’s goal to have one million electrics cars on the German roads by 2020, fuel the discussions. Besides the electric cars, charging stations and other technologies, these kinds of goals require a sustainable IT platform for communication, collaboration and service provisioning.

In the Green eMotion (GeM) project, IBM, together with forty-two partners from industry, universities, research institutions, power supply companies and municipalities, is helping to develop electric vehicle solutions, including setting up a European marketplace for e-mobility and optimized infrastructure solutions for electricity supply networks and charging systems, as well as generating recommendations for standardization.

The developed GeM marketplace solution provides a central cloud-based information and communication platform for electric mobility processes and services—for example, clearing house services (roaming), forwarding service detail records, the ability to search for charging points or reservation of charging points.

Participants of the marketplace include the following:

• EV (electric vehicle) drivers
• Utilities and energy providers
• Charging point operators
• EV manufacturers
• Service providers
• Municipalities and governments

eMotion Green

IBM is building a marketplace for electric vehicles

IBM is mainly responsible for the overall IT architecture side of the GeM project, including the system architecture and appropriate interfaces for the GeM marketplace. The deployment of the GeM marketplace involves the development of an ICT reference architecture specifying the marketplace components and their relationships; the description of service use cases and requirements; the specification of standards, protocols and core services; and the implementation of appropriate demo prototypes. IBM, through a business services component, provides the user interface required to buy, sell and manage services on the GeM marketplace.

The marketplace is deployed on the IBM SmartCloud

The GeM marketplace is hosted on the IBM SmartCloud environment, providing high availability, the flexibility of resource allocation and fail-over capabilities to recover software or hardware failures.

The IBM Cloud Computing Reference Architecture provides the guidelines to run the GeM marketplace in a cloud. It is the base for a flexible infrastructure to deploy and operate the marketplace in a cloud environment. Images as instances of virtual servers containing an operating system and optionally predefined software stacks can be delivered as infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS) to service providers, enabling them to implement and execute services through the GeM marketplace.

All partners of the marketplace are able to deploy their services in the IBM cloud environment. They can utilize the same cloud management tools, which are also used to manage the marketplace itself (a standardized and well-known management approach). In addition, a “service test cloud” is installed to test new versions of services without impacting the existing services.

It is assumed that the amount of business services provided by the marketplace will increase over time. The cloud infrastructure facilitates the upscaling without the need of manual migration to other systems and with a fair pay-as-you-go model reflecting the actual usage of resources. Due to the cloud infrastructure, the marketplace operator, the IT infrastructure provider and the service providers can be easily managed by various organizations. Furthermore, service providers are able to use resources on the cloud to develop, test and run their planned services. 

Benefits for GeM marketplace users

The GeM marketplace is designed to bring together various stakeholders in the electric vehicle market. Each of them can leverage the following advantages:

• EV drivers: Charging their vehicle Europe-wide, regardless of their energy provider; locating charging points with detailed information such as available plugs, forms of payment and consumption cost

• Utilities and energy providers: One communication channel, standardized bilateral contracts and payment support, reducing potential management issues with financial settlement and international conversion, improving overall utilization of charging infrastructure using analytics services, less administrative bureaucracy

• Charging point operators: One communication channel, interoperable standards and payment support, reducing potential management issues with financial settlement and international conversion, improving overall utilization of charging infrastructure using analytics services, less administrative bureaucracy

• EV manufactures: Scalable open-standards cloud environment to link various services, interoperable standards and payment support; ability to get insights from analytics services; less administrative bureaucracy

• Service providers: Scalable open-standards cloud environment to link various services, interoperable standards and payment support; development of new and improved services including analytics services; less administrative bureaucracy

• Municipalities and governments: Improved air quality and reduced CO2 emissions with an increasing number of EVs on the streets, less administrative bureaucracy

The general trend toward electric vehicles is an interesting journey since currently there seems to be no pressure for drivers to switch to e-cars (there’s still enough oil available and it’s obviously not too expensive yet), and the support for electric vehicles (charging point networks, standards for plugs and so on) is still in flux. I am curious to see how the electric vehicle market will develop.

For more information on the Green eMotion project please feel free to contact me or visit the homepage of the project. There is also a nice video on YouTube, which you should definitely have a look at.

I am also curious about your view on the future of electric vehicles and what you think about Angela Merkel’s goal of having one million e-cars on the streets of Germany by 2020—please leave a comment below.

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