How Audi provides developer self-service
Audi, part of the VW Group, owns the premium brands Audi, Ducati and Lamborghini. It focuses on creating a secure, stable central environment for large-scale innovative developments across the VW Group. As part of this project, Audi IT needed to reduce risk and eliminate dependencies with a flexible, modular architecture that could support iterative work.
The company chose Red Hat OpenShift as the base platform for Kubika-O, its self-service software development environment. This environment provides the software developers at Audi with a way to quickly design, deploy and scale new applications and project environments.
Kubika-O currently supports several key applications that are central to the business operations of the VW Group, such as in the areas of data collection, analysis and automation.
Sebastian Kister is Product Team Lead and Product Owner, Kubernetes and Public Cloud at Audi. Kister describes the role of IT in the car group: “Audi IT sees the standardization of platform projects in the entire VW Group with over 660,000 employees as a central task – with the provision of robust runtime environments in the cloud. ”
According to Kister, to support this goal, Audi IT has set up a professional service organization that outstrips the days of rigid “plan-build-run” schemes. Historically, organizing IT around design, build, and operations structured an organization’s IT function around key areas of infrastructure that functioned across technology domains.
Such an approach was previously seen as a way to organize IT infrastructure in a way that reduces costs, improves performance, and helps organizations prepare for next-generation IT infrastructure products.
In 2013, McKinsey determined that the plan-build-run organizational structure for IT provides global IT functions with a better way of managing IT than organizing IT infrastructure functions around “technology towers” for mainframes, servers, storage, middleware , databases, networks, etc. around end users.
According to Kister, however, Audi IT needed the ability to support short-term adjustments and expansions.
Previously, projects fell behind due to time-consuming deployment processes that could require lead times of up to six months. He says: “Audi can only meet the dynamically developing business requirements with a flexible system.”
Like many large companies, Audi established several criteria when selecting an appropriate platform and deciding whether to deploy workloads in a public cloud, private cloud, or on-premise. According to Kister, innovative development projects always require a secure, stable and scalable environment – but it is just as important that IT can provide the company with a flexible, modular architecture that reduces risk, eliminates dependencies and supports iterative work.
“In addition, the runtime environment had to be multicloud-capable, since VW and Audi use multiple cloud platforms,” he says. This multicloud approach takes into account the global market presence of the group. “Audi also wanted to implement a cloud-agnostic platform to avoid lock-in,” he adds.
When asked how Audi develops software and how teams are organized, Kister says: “As you would expect from a global brand like Audi, we have diverse requirements from all our different teams. We use an agile management approach that enables the delivery of customer-centric solutions that we can get to market quickly, and we release many service release updates on the go.”
From an architectural perspective, Kister says, Audi chose containerization to decouple operating systems from workloads. Why use containers instead of more traditional virtual machines? “The benefits of light workloads are definitely the main argument for containerization,” he says. “Our project teams develop and operate our customers’ containers, but our focus is on working with them to help them transition to us and empower them to work with us.”
With the automation provided by Red Hat OpenShift, Audi IT is able to provide customized Kubernetes clusters and add-ons for any Kubika-O project. This enables experienced developers and Kubernetes newbies to work more efficiently to build, deploy, and migrate innovative solutions across on-premises and cloud environments.
According to Kister, the modular, responsive container infrastructure from Red Hat OpenShift contains all the necessary functions and services to operate a certified container management platform for business-critical applications on different infrastructures. The platform enables Audi IT to manage service level agreements, multiple layers of security, automation and cluster management. “For example, with Red Hat OpenShift as a foundation, users can move containerized applications between clouds while retaining all functionality,” he says.
The company has deployed Red Hat OpenShift on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure as runtime environments natively supported on AWS and Azure. According to Kister, each release is managed, supported, and monitored jointly by Red Hat and the respective cloud provider. “The Audi team is taking a cloud-agnostic approach, leveraging complementary solutions to the runtime environment, especially with regards to security,” he adds.
For Kister, these complementary capabilities address IT management needs such as container image scanning, container runtime scanning, vulnerability testing, monitoring, role-based access controls, or continuous integration and delivery and deployment, among others.
Overall, Kister sees the role of IT changing. “You can no longer expect a system to run unchanged for 10 years,” he says. “To survive in an environment of constant change, we needed a multi-tenant system with the ability to make small adjustments and updates as needed.”
The development of self-service through Audi’s Kubika-O environment fits here. Such environments are key to digitization efforts that require continuous innovation through the development of new software-based products and services.