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Manufacturing Processes—Production and Business: Cloud Manufacturing, Part 3

Manufacturing Processes—Production and Business: Cloud Manufacturing, Part 3

By Bob Sproull

Review of Cloud Manufacturing, Part 2

In my last post, I discussed the definition and fundamental concepts of cloud computing. I presented give essential characteristics: on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service. I introduced two basic types of cloud technology, known as capability and access. Capability refers to the service models, of which there are three distinct types: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and Platform-as-a-Service (Paas). Access refers to whether the computing technology is deployed through a public or private cloud model.

The cloud simplifies the use of computing technologies for manufacturers

In today’s post, I will begin a discussion on the core concepts of cloud computing in manufacturing.  I will examine the drivers for adoption of cloud computing technologies, which will tell you why today’s companies should move in this direction.

In its most basic form, cloud manufacturing is the process of utilizing well established manufacturing resources, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), through the cloud. In doing so, information can be updated and applied any time and from any place with an internet connection. Cloud computing is very important for manufacturing because it allows companies to avoid the seemingly countless lists of business and technical issues facing companies relative to running their own data centers, which I’ll further describe in this series. Companies save tons of money by only paying for the computing resources they need on a pay-per-usage basis.

What are the primary considerations for adopting cloud technologies?

So, what are the drivers or attributes for the adoption of cloud computing in manufacturing?  To phrase the question another way, why should a manufacturing company move toward cloud computing? [1] Grace Lewis of the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon identified eight drivers. The reasons they might draw an organization to cloud computing are as follows:

  1. Availability: Users have the ability to access their resources at any time through a standard internet connection. 

  2. Collaboration: Users begin to see the cloud as a way to work simultaneously on common data and information.

  3. Elasticity: The provider transparently manages a user’s resource utilization based on dynamically changing needs.

  4. Lower infrastructure costs: The pay-per-usage model allows an organization to only pay for the resources they need, with basically no investment in the physical resources available in the cloud. There are no infrastructure maintenance or upgrade costs.

  5. Mobility: Users have the ability to access data and applications from wherever they happen to be, around the globe.

  6. Risk reduction: Organizations can use the cloud to test ideas and concepts before making major investments in technology.

  7. Scalability: Users have access to a large amount of hardware and software resources that scale to meet their computing demands.

  8. Virtualization: Each user has a single view of the available resources, independently of how they are arranged in terms of physical devices. Therefore, there is potential from a provider perspective to serve a greater number of users with fewer physical resources.

Coming in the next post

In the next post, I will present the advantages and benefits of cloud computing for manufacturing. I will lay out the basics of cloud computing in the manufacturing industry and why it is critical for today’s companies to quickly transition to it. This discussion will include small and large manufacturers and why it is critical for each to adopt specific technologies.

Until next time.

Bob Sproull

Blog Post References:

[1] Grace Lewis, Software Engineering Institute/Carnegie Mellon, September 2010

Bob Sproull

About the author

Bob Sproull has helped businesses across the manufacturing spectrum improve their operations for more than 40 years.

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