Connect and extend: NVIDIA’s vision for modernizing legacy applications has been saved
Cover image by: Natalie Pfaff
Like most auto manufacturers today, BMW is pushing hard toward autonomous and electric vehicles. The problem is that most of its assembly equipment is optimized for producing traditional gas-powered cars. It needed to drive toward the future without reengineering all of its existing infrastructure.
So BMW turned to one of its technology partners, NVIDIA, whose Omniverse platform helped BMW’s legacy infrastructure work with advanced 3D modeling software and, eventually, extended reality interfaces.
“BMW realized that to keep up, it needed to bring new models to market quicker,” says Mike Geyer, industry product manager at NVIDIA. “Now it’s in a position to take advantage of the next generation of the internet, which we call the industrial metaverse.”1
Most enterprises today have a mix of legacy systems and modern applications, and getting them all to talk to each other can be complicated and time-consuming. This is where NVIDIA’s Omniverse platform comes in. It relies on an open-source file format that allows users to create scenes composed of many different file types. It also supports different client applications and microservices, another key component in enabling multiple software systems to work in conjunction. In practice, this means that legacy ERP systems, computer-aided design software, and purchasing tools (to name just a few) can all sync up.
“You’ve spent 15 years putting data into a software system,” Geyer says. “You can keep using it. Now you can just do more with it.”
Geyer says that the market is moving toward open systems where disparate tools can all communicate with each other. For years, vendors have used strategies that kept users tied to their ecosystem: As long as vendors had a lock on businesses’ data, they had a lock on businesses themselves. But developers today don’t want tools as much as they want functionality. Whatever tools are best for the job at hand are the ones users want. An open ecosystem supports this approach. So companies are repatriating their data by leveraging their core systems and all the data in them for broadening use cases.
“Businesses are demanding that open ecosystem,” Geyer says. “They want to control the destiny of their systems.”
Another benefit of the Omniverse platform is supporting advanced artificial intelligence (AI) applications through its ability to create synthetic data based on parameters set by the user. This lets AI systems train on many more scenarios than if they were training only on data from real-world events. They can run thousands of simulations based on synthetic data to find optimal processes based on almost any scenario. In industrial applications, for example, the AI model can find the best route for a robot to take given the likely placement of things such as forklifts, pallets, and workers.
“No human wants to think through all those variables,” Geyer says. “The AI does the grunt work.”
This gives the human workforce better problems to solve. Now that they don’t have to spend their time on low-level, highly detailed work, employees can spend time on higher-level problems. Rather than programming neural networks, people are now interrogating them. It takes the sophistication of a human to define the problem. The AI system finds the best answer.