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IIoT and The Cloud

In the new age of IIoT there are many ways to analyze data so that companies are most efficiently delivering their product. They must monitor their production and with the new advancements in technology, monitoring at an even smaller level, will allow for even more efficient monitoring. In IIoT there are multiple ways that a process is monitored. Typically, there is a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, or SCADA, system that displays values and the status of certain components in the process. Within the monitoring system there are end devices that acquire data for manipulation and analysis. This acquired data can be analyzed at the edge, out on the fringes of the production system, or it can be done in The Cloud. These monitoring techniques allow for supervisors and companies to effectively control their production as efficiently as possible, removing unexpected downtime and making predictive decisions.

The Cloud has been a buzzword over the past years for storing something elsewhere so that the storage used on a phone or computer can be reduced. This is just a part of what the cloud can do. The Cloud is a network of servers and computers across the world that all work in conjunction to store or manage data, compute, and run applications. These servers can be accessed from a basic laptop or desktop and exponentially increase the computing power of a local computer. The cloud can solve problems and make every day work significantly easier. Companies can share files and data with their employees and make it extremely easy for any employee to access the files and data that they need. The ease of sharing files with anyone through the cloud makes the process very appealing since productivity in any company be significantly increased. Only a computer, cell phone, or tablet with an internet connection is required. Using the cloud plays well with IIoT since the cloud can be accessed from pretty much anywhere, similar to companies who want to access their data from everywhere.

There are companies that use a variety of options for cloud storage and computing. Amazon, Microsoft, and countless others offer different cloud solutions that companies can tailor for their own experience. Cloud computing companies implement software as a service (SAAS), platform as a service (PAAS), or infrastructure as a service (IAAS). Software as a service can be compared to Google Docs or Microsoft Office online. Platform as a service is a fully catered service where a developer creates cloud-based applications so that a company can do their work more efficiently. And lastly, infrastructure as a service allows for a company to completely build out a system that can be scaled and modified for any use the company needs.

Companies can create clouds that have private, public, hybrid, and community server options. These options restrict and filter who uses the cloud and its different possibilities based on how the company seeks to utilize the cloud. Private clouds are for private company use and is typically only used by the employees who have been granted access. Public clouds are open to anybody, like Google’s Drive services or DropBox. Hybrid clouds are between private and public based on their design, and community clouds only can be accessed by a certain client like that of a government group or association.

By using the cloud, companies can store their acquired data for analysis and make more informed decisions. The cloud is very valuable and will streamline a company’s ability to make critical decisions that keep downtime at a minimum. While applying IIoT to the already present infrastructure, it is important for a company to evaluate how to best use the cloud. The cloud may be the best option for certain aspects of IIoT but not all. It entirely depends on what the company is aiming to do since not all data may need to be passed directly to the cloud. There are some companies who believe that most of the analytics and data should be collected and evaluated on the edge at remote sites, and only periodic data should be sent to the cloud at the main facility or center of the business. The design of IIoT infrastructure is completely dependent on what the company aims to complete and what would be the most robust for them.

The Cloud has been very useful for people in the past few decades, and IIoT can stand to benefit from this usefulness. By using a worldwide network of servers and computers, companies can benefit from the connectivity and make smarter and more efficient decisions. The marriage of IIoT smart production and an external cloud, that can handle and analyze the data that is collected from smart sensors and smart devices, will allow companies to increase their efficiency and be as effective as possible. IIoT is the future of manufacturing and it will benefit from the capabilities of The Cloud.