We all use it every day: the cloud. Dropbox and Google Docs simplify data sharing, and cloud-based software is already in wide use. What is already commonplace for many of us in our everyday lives is also making its way into the infrastructure of industrial companies. However, moving data to the cloud involves a number of challenges.
Moving to the cloud is really only an option if you trust big tech. Just a handful of US companies dominate the business: Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and IBM have all created a lucrative business segment for themselves with cloud solutions for businesses. In the final quarter of 2021 alone, market leader Amazon generated almost 20 billion US dollars in revenue with cloud computing.
In addition to potential savings, the pressure to innovate is also driving a rethinking of IT. In order to digitally represent complex business processes and to network supply chains within an ecosystem, flexible and scalable IT resources are required. This also applies to industry: Companies that want to leverage the capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT) in their production environments and to implement the vision of the smart factory, have no choice but to turn to the cloud.
But not all clouds are equal. Essentially, companies have a choice between two types:
When a company uses a cloud exclusively for itself, it is called a private cloud.
A public cloud, in contrast, is used by multiple companies at the same time, whereby the cloud provider ensures that the individual users can only access their own data.
However, choosing the optimal solution and the appropriate infrastructure is not the only challenge when making the transition to the cloud. For industrial companies, the transformation is particularly demanding. After all, manufacturing companies have to link the two very heterogeneous worlds of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT).
In spite of these obstacles, cloud computing is also making inroads in the manufacturing sector. Some industrial companies have already implemented the vision of the smart factory, which would be inconceivable without the cloud. However, leading industrial companies are not only moving their IT and OT to the cloud, but also expanding their own portfolio with cloud-based solutions.