Wednesday, July 26, 2017

MANUFACTURING IN THE CLOUD. Part I: What is cloud computing and why is it being used?

By Goran Novkovic, CQA, CSQE, ITIL, APM, PMP, PEng

This blog is part of a series called Manufacturing in the Cloud. This series aims to assist manufacturing organizations to evaluate how they can overcome challenges and maximize cloud computing benefits. As cloud computing services mature both commercially and technologically, this is likely to become relatively easier to achieve.

Cloud computing is a key platform for succeeding digital transformation of manufacturing organizations. Cloud computing revolutionizes the way manufacturing organizations are implementing information systems and managing critical production and business processes. In short, cloud computing is a real thing. It is expanding and becoming the essence for improving manufacturing processes. But, how do we define this growing solution?

WHAT IS CLOUD COMPUTING?

There is, to date, no universally agreed industry definition of cloud computing. However, there are many descriptions of cloud computing. The industry is still searching for a clear definition to encapsulate this profound but subtle technological evolution. In general, cloud computing is a term used to describe a set of IT services that are provided to customers over a network on a leased basis and with the ability to scale up or down their service requirements. Cloud computing services are commonly delivered by third party providers who own the infrastructure.
US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines cloud computing as a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.
A bottom line, cloud computing means centralizing and outsourcing infrastructure, platforms, and/or software to cloud service provider, so manufacturing organizations can spend less time worrying about technology and more time focusing on business and operational improvements.

BENEFITS SO FAR

Harnessing cloud capabilities to harvest data from manufacturing processes and distributing this data to various users and stakeholders is a powerful tool that can save money, optimize production processes, speed up project implementations, and enhance safety and security operations. Cloud computing provides manufacturers with capabilities for implementing advanced software applications, expanding mobility and supporting new technologies and various IoT/IIoT, Big Data and AI initiatives.

The pressures to decrease IT costs and increase agility are driving manufacturing organizations to consider the adoption of cloud computing services. Cloud computing can help reduce both capital and revenue expenditure by replacing traditional packaged software and hardware procurements with the purchase of complete IT services which can scale and flex to meet changing operational needs.

The rate at which manufacturing organizations as Cloud Service Customers (CSC) embrace cloud computing services is linked to the maturity and stability of the cloud services offered by Cloud Service Providers (CSP). There is commercial pressure on businesses to adopt cloud computing. However, manufacturing organizations need to ensure that their cloud journeys are driven by their own operational needs rather than by providers' interests, which are driven by short-term revenues and sales targets and long-term market share aspirations.

Cloud computing has recently moved beyond a conceptual notion and become a realistic option for manufacturing organizations wishing to reduce their operational costs and the complexities of managing their own IT infrastructures. This status is supported by increased clarity on the term cloud computing driven by industry analysts, and providers striving for interoperability of their cloud services with existing technologies and business processes.

Has your experience with cloud been successful? Have you run into issues? Email me or start a reply to this blog or in MESA’s LinkedIn Group to voice your experience or concerns.

Next week I’ll talk about the 5 Characteristics of Cloud Computing.


Goran Novkovic, CQA, CSQE, ITIL, APM, PMP, PEng

Goran Novkovic has over 15 years of experience in various regulated industry sectors. His expertise is in industrial control systems (ICS) cybersecurity, control systems engineering, computer systems validation, software security and test management, cloud security and regulatory compliance. Goran has a formal education in Electrical Engineering and Project Management and possesses a master's degree in Information Technology. He has number of professional licenses and designations. He is holder of CQA (Certified Quality Auditor) and CSQE (Certified Software Quality Engineer) certifications with ASQ (American Society for Quality). Goran is certified ITIL, certified Agile Project Manager and Project Management Professional with PMI (Project Management Institute). He is licensed Professional Engineer with PEO (Professional Engineers Ontario). Goran is focused on ICS cybersecurity and he is helping organizations to establish ICS cybersecurity governance and develop effective ICS cybersecurity programs from scratch. E-mail contact: gnovkov@toronto.ca
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