For the companies looking to implement the biggest and most complex IoT setups in the world, the idea of pairing up with AWS, Google Cloud or Azure seems to be one whose time has come. Within the last two months, BMW and Volkswagen have both announced large-scale deals with Microsoft and Amazon, respectively, to help operate their extensive network of operational technology.\nAccording to Alfonso Velosa, vice president and analyst at Gartner, part of the impetus behind those two deals is that the automotive sector fits in very well with the architecture of the public cloud. Public clouds are great at collecting and processing data from a diverse array of different sources, whether they\u2019re in-vehicle sensors, dealerships, mechanics, production lines or anything else.\n\n\u201cWhat they\u2019re trying to do is create a broader ecosystem. They think they can leverage the capabilities from these folks,\u201d Velosa said.\nCloud providers as IoT partners\nThe idea is automated analytics for service and reliability data, manufacturing and a host of other operational functions. And while the full realization of that type of service is still very much a work in progress, it has clear-cut advantages for big companies \u2013 a skilled partner handling tricky implementation work, built-in capability for sophisticated analytics and security, and, of course, the ability to scale up in a big way.\nHence, the structure of the biggest public clouds has upside for many large-scale IoT deployments, not just the ones taking place in the auto industry. The cloud giants have vast infrastructures, with multiple points of presence all over the world.\n\u201cIt\u2019s akin to the way the phone carriers built their points of presence,\u201d said Rohit Mehra, IDC vice president for network infrastructure.\nMobile carriers push for corporate IoT business\nNot coincidentally, big mobile carriers have begun to emerge as rivals to the public cloud providers for this type of large-scale deployment, and for most of the same reasons, according to Mehra. They\u2019re particularly good at providing high performance, low-latency network connectivity at the edge.\n\u201cIf you look at the global services providers \u2013 AT&T, Vodafone \u2013 all of them have mobile footprints, and they\u2019re trying to augment their networks, with or without partnerships to, provide that IoT capability,\u201d he said.\nChristian Renaud, IoT research vice president at 451 Research, argued that they\u2019re not there yet, however. There\u2019s promise there, but also a distinct lack of apparent organization on the part of the major carriers.\n\u201cWhat I haven\u2019t seen yet is any network operator step forward with a really articulate plan for that,\u201d he said.\nCloud providers move services up the stack\nThe basic nature of IoT deployments at this scale means that there\u2019s no set-it-and-forget-it option. Even among companies in the same vertical, the best architectural fit is going to vary widely.\nVelosa said that particularly asset-intensive industries (think oil and gas, chemical manufacturing and mining, among others) are the ones best suited for this type of deployment.\nMoreover, the public-cloud providers themselves are in an unfamiliar position of having to cater to the needs of IoT-enabled businesses. They\u2019ve functioned, essentially, as generalist IT plumbing for a long time, so the sudden need to have a lot of vertical-specific knowledge is something they\u2019ll have to adjust to.\nPartnerships with companies that already have that vertical-specific knowledge are a key piece of the puzzle, and those companies are at least as excited to have versions of their software available via AWS and Azure. The biggest customers generally have working relationships with one of the major cloud providers already, and the software vendors want to be as widely available as possible, despite how advantageous exclusive partnerships could be for the cloud providers \u2013 like smartphones that are only available on one wireless network.\nFor the AWS\/Volkswagen partnership, one key collaborator is Siemens, whose suite of industrial-control, automation and manufacturing applications are critically important to the carmaker\u2019s core operations, according to Marco Argenti, AWS vice president of technology for IoT.\nThe idea is to move up the stack, and to get away from the \u201cdumb pipe\u201d mindset. \u201cWe\u2019re starting to provide higher-order services and applications \u2026 our latest pilot products provide metrics and dashboards for industrial optimization,\u201d he said.\nRenaud also points out that more prosaic concerns can sometimes dictate the choice of IoT partner. If a company\u2019s already working with AWS or Azure or Google Cloud for more traditional public cloud use cases, it\u2019s almost a foregone conclusion that they\u2019ll stay with that company for an IoT deployment, he said.