Cloud Strategies With Good Cloud Candidates

By Christophe Deslandes, CIO & VP, KapStone Paper and Packaging

Christophe Deslandes, CIO & VP, KapStone Paper and Packaging

Challenges in Technology in Manufacturing Sector and its Solution

Cloud technology has matured and every company should develop a Cloud strategy if they don’t already have one. We look at Cloud not as a way to save money but as a way to make our infrastructure more flexible, more resilient and to shift from a fixed to a more variable cost structure.

Two main challenges to Cloud adoption- The first one is that business units are seeing the opportunity to sign up with cloud services for good reasons – but are not aware of the problems this causes. There are usual issues with “shadow IT” like bandwidth requirements, security, integration, support and compatibility; but also issues that even some IT departments struggle with: how to handle compliance, e-discovery, getting your data back at the end of the contract.

The second challenge is more specific to Manufacturing. Applications like Manufacturing Execution Systems, data historians and Digital Control Systems are typically intolerant of network downtime or latency. Moreover they often run on older or proprietary operating systems that do not support virtualization; that all makes them poor candidates for the Cloud. It’s important that IT departments in manufacturing companies develop a Cloud strategy that clearly outlines which technologies are good Cloud candidates and which aren’t. It comes in very handy when explaining to the business why we still need money for traditional on premise infrastructure at a time when executives expect everything to be moving the Cloud and cost less.

Technology trends Impacting Enterprise Business Environment and Manufacturing Industry

Many IT executives all still want complete control over those devices. That’s the old Blackberry paradigm – control the device, the OS and the access that doesn’t work anymore. Employees want to use their own device and don’t want to carry a company-owned phone on top of that. The paradigm needs to change from controlling the device to controlling the data. Start by implementing a robust Mobile Data Management system – they have matured a lot over the last two years – and secure the data or the apps at the server level.

Also it’s important to realize that not all applications need to be accessed from a mobile device. Applications like accounting, CAD, order entry or manufacturing execution don’t lend themselves well to touch navigation or a small screen. Focus on apps that add value while on the run: email, CRM, DMS, expense or purchase order approval. In manufacturing, inventory control and maintenance are other good candidates.

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