Monday, March 12, 2012

Bringing the Cloud Down to Earth: Part 2

OK, so I got a bit lazy on my last post.  And I got called on it.  So let's do it right!  We have seen a lot of movement lately on the cloud for industry, and specifically, the cloud for manufacturers. I have written 2 articles now and have participated on one panel, and the outcome of all of it is that manufacturers are in a "wait and see" mode.
It's easy to understand why.  There are a lot of variables associated with the cloud: how to pay for it, how to effectively use it, how to ensure security at both the user & hosted levels, what technology providers to use, etc. etc. Interestingly enough, I haven't seen a lot of our traditional "competition" either writing about, or offering, cloud-based products.  A quick and dirty search of "cloud" based apps for industry uncovered a few reporting products, mostly for viewing KPI's (Key Performance Indicators; Sarla's Smart Glance is the leading app here, in our opinion). But other applications are wanting.  Workflow is the only other application space that is remotely connected to industry, and again, makes sense, since it has a more distributed model of users and a broader focus of task management.  But SCADA, HMI, MES?  Not so much.  I for one am looking forward to these products being hosted as a SaaS (software as a service).

 In the "old" days, some vendors offered subscription-based MES; you paid by user, by month, for access to the application.  It was a great way to decrease the IT burden on a company, because it was typically a hosted system, and allowed for scalability by simply adding new users.  The cloud-based applications will likely reflect this method of distribution.

What do you think?  Are you considering the cloud?  Doing research?  Would enjoy some dialog here!


  1. Hi Maryanne,

    i really like the idea with the cloud. Putting SCADA, HMI or MES in a cloud sounds really difficult to me. I think most of the people would say it's nearly impossible to do (security issues, real-time requirements, accessibility..etc.). In the beginning i see the clowd more as a really good, new marketing tool for Invensys.

    I am from Wonderware Spain and i think Invensys should consider the cloud as a new tool to offer and present their products (which i really love) to their customer in a new way.

    I have more ideas in mind how that could look like.
    You are welcome to contact me if you are interested.

  2. Hi Christian,
    your comment is very timely! We just published a press release announcing our participation in the Microsoft Azure program. Invensys will be developing cloud-based industrial applications. The first to be released will be a data historian application, the other will be a collaboration application. So we've gone from theory to reality in a very short amount of time. It's great for our customers, who can use this low cost, scalable approach for monitoring, reporting, and sharing information, without being tied to the plant environment. Of course, products like workflow are a natural extension for the cloud, because of the individual, task-oriented nature of the client application, so having a server sit in the cloud, with remote access through a number of different devices (mobile/handheld/PC) is ideal. So thanks for your comment and any suggestions you have, we are always interested in getting feedback!