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Automation: Custom Automation the New Craftsmanship?

This year for Christmas my wife gave me the wonderful gift of membership to our local gym, and in addition,  a discounted gift pack of 8 personal trainer sessions.  My first reaction was to be offended by the gesture until I gazed at the sincerity on her face and the “keg” below my chest. So, instead of wallowing in self pity. I proceeded to pull out and dust off my 1998 Brooks track shoes, my knee high athletic socks and my 2000 Los Angeles Laker’s Championship head band, and proceeded to walk out the door on my quest for a new and improved six pack.

How does this story relate to manufacturing? Well let me explain.

I did not make it out the door before my teenage daughter glanced at me, chuckled and stated, “Dad. Where are you going with that outfit? And where did you get those shoes!!!”, “You need some new “stompers” (translation for the tweet challenged generation…new shows. Oh and I needed the translation.) She directed me to the NikeID website to find some new “stompers”

Nike -- Custom Solution

Global manufacturing stalwarts like Nike and Harley Davidson are re-engineering their plants to address the growing trend of custom “productization.”   Where customers can personalize and customize their product with unique detail and style. Customers end up paying a little more for  this service, but in many instances it turns out to be more reasonable than exclusive branding.  Is Custom Automation the new craftsmanship of the 21st century?  If so, what is required to implement this new paradigm into a viable business and operational reality -- a sort of Industrial Intelligence? Read More »

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“A Day in the Clouds” – APIs for Cloud Infrastructure Automation

When we really try and boil down the appeal of Cloud Computing, the ability for a person or business to move from “great idea” to “implementing the concept” almost always moves to the top of the list. The true value of Cloud Computing is fundamentally about “now”. You want resources now. At times you’ll want to expand those resources now, as the business grows. You might also need to reduce those resources now, as projects end or priorities changes.

The concept of “now” was the focus of Cisco’s participation in the Intel “Day in the Clouds” event last week at their campus in Oregon. The event allowed all of the Intel Cloud Builder partners to come together and collaborate around the technologies evolving the Cloud Computing market. This was a follow-up to the initial Reference Architecture that we had submitted to the program, which focused on a modular implementation of Virtualized Multi-Tenant Data Centers.

ChipChat podcast with Intel’s Allyson Klein and Brian Gracely -- “Enabling the Unified Data Center with Cisco”

Cisco -- Intel Day in the Clouds -- March 2011

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The Year of the Hybrid Cloud

2010 saw a lot of attention, coverage, and interest building up around the private cloud.  IDC’s “IT Cloud Services Survey” conducted in the second quarter of 2010 showed that “those who find private clouds more (and much more) appealing than public clouds outnumbered those who find private clouds less (or much less) appealing by over 5 to 1.”

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Bringing IT and Control together

Although not a rule, IT and Control at many manufacturers have an arms-length, if not more distant, relationship.  They have different priorities, expertise and cultures.  But the reality is that the converged plant, based upon standard networking throughout the plant, requires them to work together to achieve the bucket of gold benefits awaiting their company.  Our partnership with Rockwell Automation in many ways is a result of this need at many of our customers.  They need us to work closer so that they can focus on a single technology and solution and rely on a “converged” support model as they bring their plants into the standard networking world interconnected to the rest of the enterprise.  To this end our companies have been working together for more than five years.

Gregory Wilcox, Rockwell Automation, on IT/Control cultural convergence

Listen to my colleague at Rockwell Automation, Gregory Wilcox -- Business Development Manager, describe the culture convergence that needs to occur -- critical to the overall convergence.  We have done a lot of the leg work to make this convergence happen.

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Evolving the Data Center to Private Cloud

All too often, vendors talk about products or features when customers really want solutions and “how do I get there?” models for evolving their business. Cloud Computing is a topic that definitely falls into the latter category because it isn’t a single piece of hardware or software, but rather it’s a new way to align business needs with technology capabilities.

For many companies, Cloud Computing represents both an opportunity and a challenge. From an opportunity perspective, it potentially represents a chance to leapfrog your competition by leveraging technology as a core driver of new business models. This would create a compelling business differentiation and it’s most likely what every CIO will be talking about in 2011. From a challenge perspective, it introduces some new types of change that your company will need to address, such as:

[WARNING] It’s very possible that this post could get slightly lengthy, so if you’d like the cliff-notes version, check out Cisco’s Enterprise Private Cloud homepage and click on the short video at the top. 3 minutes could save you months or years on your Cloud Computing strategy.
Evolving the Data Center to Private Cloud

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