Monday, February 18, 2013

ARC World Forum: A Great Time for Industry

Invensys was proud to participate in the 17th Annual ARC Advisory Group World Industry Forum, February 11-14 in Orlando, FL.  I personally was involved in three sessions: a cloud in manufacturing session (along with our customer from General Mills, who spoke on their use of SmartGlance mobile reporting); a session on operator training simulation, with our customer from the Salt River Project, and a session on social media.
The ARC Forum is held once/year, and is a great event for both vendors, like Invensys, as well as end users.  You are exposed to industry trends, best practices, new commercially-available technologies, and access to some of the best industry analysts in the business (and no, they did not pay me to say this!).

For brevity sake, I'll break this post into three, so that we can focus on a single subject.  Today I'll discuss the session we did on "Moving Historian and Production Management to the Cloud."

This is a subject that Invensys has been actively promoting for over two years now, since the announcement of Microsoft and Invensys creating industrial products for their Azure cloud services.  SmartGlance, a cloud-based analytics product that runs on tablets and smart phones, is our first "proof of concept" that the cloud can be safely, and productively, used for industry.  General Mills spoke of their SmartGlance use as an integration point of different plant systems from a reporting perspective.  I was on the panel as well, to talk about Invensys' use of virtualization as a "stepping stone" to get you to the cloud.  Of course, there are still issues with data security, but a private cloud (in-house hosted) can avoid some of those issues.

One of the panelists shared a cloud-based SCADA application.  Really! So, the technical and infrastructure concerns of the cloud for process control seem to be narrowing as products become more robust, and users become more willing to look at other means of hosting and access.

Rob McGreevy of Invensys says, "the closer to the controls, the farther away from the cloud you should be."  So our approach is, use the cloud for historian reporting and analysis; use the cloud for collaboration, but for process control--it should stay securely on the ground, in the plant.  And from what we are hearing, most end users are agreeing with that approach.

Certainly, we've seen the uptake of virtualization quadrupling since last year, and that's a good thing, because virtualization provides real benefits such as high availability, disaster recovery, and economic benefits from "multi-purposing" your hosting hardware.  So it's a natural progression to think that next year, we'll have more success stories talking about cloud-based reporting, analysis, and control from the automation community.  And that's a great thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment