What Cloud Computing Means for Industrial Infrastructure

April 16th, 2014 by - 4,218 views

Just as cloud computing has revolutionized how corporate IT departments interact with their networks, the way in which business is conducted across all markets has also changed significantly. Because the technology provides employees with a different way of performing tasks, the manner in which managers and executives make decisions has been radically influenced by an influx of data points.

A construction grew surveys an ongoing project.

A construction crew surveys an ongoing project.

When it comes to traditional business practices, everything has become a lot easier thanks to cloud computing. For most large enterprises, it’s not an arduous chore for employees to access a Word document from a tablet, edit the file, and share it with coworkers. As far as the industrial sector is concerned, reporting mechanical deficiencies or malfunctions can happen in near real time because many workers are now equipped with smartphones, some of them supplied by their employers.

Digital information changes everything 
In an interview with InformationWeek, former Chief Cloud Architect for Netflix Adrian Cockcroft noted that a strong integration of all teams and departments is imperative for a company to ensure its survival. Cockcroft spent 7 years with the company developing the necessary architecture to launch new ways of finding and showcasing films. In 2008, Netflix ceased operating through on-premise databases and moved to cloud servers. Afterward, the former CCA began noticing some fundamental changes throughout the organization.

Cockcroft told the news source that the increased speed and flexibility offered by the off-premise solution gave Netflix its competitive edge. During its fledgling years, the company’s size couldn’t compare to that of its competitors, requiring it to develop and act on particular incentives quicker than others film distributors. Basically, the company had to make a consorted effort to eliminate inefficient communication between software designers and engineers.

“We put a high-trust, low-process environment in place with few hand-offs between teams,” said Cockcroft.

In a sense, cloud infrastructure allowed Netflix to merge development, production, engineering, and management into single teams assigned with completing tasks specific to the newly formed departments.

What it means for industry
Cloud technology enables enhanced communication. Power plants have hundreds and sometimes thousands of tangible and human assets scattered across dozens of departments. Ultimately, each team is focused on making the business profitable, and the decisions of one division may shift the priorities of another — for better or for worse.

According to CIO, Chief Development Officer of General Electric Paul Rogers stated that the way his employees interact with their work environments is completely different than how they would have over a decade ago. When Rogers first joined GE in 1998, the majority of workers didn’t know how to interact with software. Today, mobile devices dominate the corporation’s power plants, a trend that has expedited the flow of knowledge between different departments.

One of the greatest resources at GE’s disposal is Big Data. Rogers told the news source the company has implemented sensors throughout all its products that allow managers to learn when wells run dry or turbines begin deteriorating. In addition, technicians can amass the intelligence collected from the devices, store the data in the cloud, and then analyze it to determine the efficiency of a specific oil field or water dam.

Most important, this kind of algorithmic information provides the organization’s development team with unique insight into how future products could be better engineered. The slightest improvements to a solar panel or wind turbine can increase energy output or reduce the overall wear and tear of equipment. The marriage of cloud computing and data analysis has revolutionized the manner in which corporations now monitor their infrastructure and take action, when necessary.

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