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Should manufacturing embrace the cloud?

November 30, 2011 - 2 Comments

Cloud Computing: you’ve heard of it, but how will it affect you as a manufacturer? Is it the right solution for your industry or not?

Cisco has released its recent Global Cloud Index projections which state that Cloud Traffic will increase 12-fold between 2010 and 2015.

The Cisco Cloud Index covers three crucial areas focused on data center and cloud traffic trends and next-generation service or application adoption. They include:

  • Data center and cloud traffic forecast, which offers projections from 2010-2015 on global data center and cloud traffic rates
  • Workload transition, which provides 2010-2015 projections for workloads moving from traditional IT to cloud-based architectures
  • Cloud readiness, which provides regional statistics on broadband adoption as a precursor for cloud services


Right for manufacturing?

Should the manufacturing industry begin to embrace the cloud? ARC President Andy Chatha believes so, and he frames his argument around the potential mobility and collaboration that a cloud solution can offer, bridging the gap between “R&D and other disciplines”:

U.S. manufacturers “need to become more innovation-centric” to increase their global competitiveness, according to ARC Advisory Group President and CEO Andy Chatha, and “technology is our ace in the hole. Technology can help us compete with anybody in the world.”

Chatha noted that manufacturers have done a good job over the past decade of optimizing and automating their supply chains. Now the focus needs to be on “end-to-end” integration that fosters collaboration between R&D, engineering, operations and other functions. “You truly need to bring your entire organization together,” Chatha said.

The cloud offers those possibilities and more. In a previous blog, I cited a report which detailed how US manufacturers would seek to remain competitive through labor arbitrage (setting up shop wherever labor is cheapest):

In this situation, cloud computing could be a competitive advantage. If a manufacturer is opening a new remote plant or office, then the cloud could be used instead of creating a new IT infrastructure at that location, for example.  

Considering the global nature of the manufacturing industry – with suppliers and operations often in multiple parts of the world —   it would seem that the cloud has a lot to offer the manufacturing industry.

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  1. Manufacturers can benefit from visualizing live industrial processes in a web browser, through a cloud-based system. To do so, it helps to understand the unique opportunities and challenges of real-time data communication in the cloud. For example, a real-time cloud application for a manufacturing system requires secure, low latency connectivity with support for things like hot-switchover redundancy and the ability to connect through firewalls. We discuss these topics, and more on the Real-Time Cloud blog (