Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Cloud for Manufacturing?  Well, someday soon...
I just participated in an industry panel at the ARC Forum last week.  With me were SAP, AT&T, and Microsoft representatives.  The overwhelming feeling was that we are on the cusp of "something big" but the manufacturing industry, being what it is, is reluctant to be the first adopters of such a technology.
Invensys, if I must say, has the forefront in thought leadership for the cloud.  We are creating industry relationships and undergoing product development to meet the early adopter needs.  We've just announced our virtualization offerings based on both Hyper-V, and now VMware, for high availability and disaster recovery.  Those of you that are using VM's for your applications know what a boost this is from an IT and cost savings perspective.  It is the next logical step to apply virtualization for the cloud, to continue to gain those advantages of scalability, reliability, and cost effectiveness.

But let's get back to the cloud.  Most of the audience agreed that we are in an early phase.  Neither the user base nor the majority of the automation vendors have firm solution sets for the cloud.  The one vendor that is making headway is Sarla (read their post below) for smart device-enabled reporting.  There are still concerns about security (who wants their IP in the cloud?) and so we see these reporting applications being the "safest" way of enabling this technology--not doing process control, or replacing PLC's or DCS systems--but providing a ubiquitous means of accessing the performance in a "read only" manner.

So what do you think?  Will the cloud make faster inroads than what we are saying?  Are you using the cloud now?

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