Industry 4.0 Glossary

What Is Cloud Computing?

The ability to interact or process data and run programs over the internet irrespective of the availability of a physical storage at each client is called cloud computing. The term ‘cloud’ here is just a metaphor for the combination of data exchange protocols, storage infrastructure, computing power and user interface portals & applications.

The idea of cloud computing was conceived as early as in the 60s. But like artificial intelligence and other technologies that were ahead of their time, it was shelved. It made a reappearance in 1999 when the company Salesforce started delivering applications to customers over the internet, using a website.

Since the late 90s, cloud technology has grown leaps and bounds. Statistics show that by 2022 the public cloud services market revenue is expected to exceed 350 billion U.S. dollars. Among the multitude of cloud-based offerings, some of the benefits manufacturers reap are flexibility, improved scalability and enhanced operational efficiency. In terms of data handling, cloud technologies have driven efficiency and accuracy to a whole new level with improved data storage, management and analytics.

Why Is Cloud Computing Used?

Cloud computing drives a wide range of applications and depending on the usage, it plays different roles. For a user, it enables the performance of computational operations over the internet. The ability to control and operate devices remotely is a byproduct of cloud computing technology. Similarly, for a service provider, it opens up revenue generation opportunities through business models like SAAS, PAAS, and IAAS. Cloud is also largely used in fields like healthcare, education, and entertainment as they enable seamless OTT services.

One of the most significant advantages of the cloud is the elimination of the need for proximity while performing an action. It is the primary enabler of technologies like the internet of things (IoT) and big data that are the active forces behind Industry 4.0.

Types Of Clouds

Clouds are classified into two broad categories based on their data security levels and the services they offer. Each category then defines different sets of clouds based on their functionality.

There are normally four types of clouds when categorized based on the security levels they come with. They are:

Public Cloud

A Public cloud is a setup where the computing services are all available over the public internet, usually through a third-party provider. It is made available for anyone to use (a fee may be involved in certain cases). Public clouds can be very economical for companies as they can avoid the need for expensive on-site infrastructure.

Private Cloud

Private clouds are computational services that are available either over the internet or an internal network. They are only available to select users within the network. Private clouds offer a higher level of security, as they are also equipped with company firewalls and internal hosting to safeguard operations and sensitive data. Private clouds further enable offering two modes of services – IaaS and PaaS. These two models are part of cloud types based on services offered.

Hybrid Cloud

As the name suggests, a hybrid cloud is a combination of features from both the public and private types of clouds. In a hybrid cloud, data and applications are shared based on different levels of accessibility using conditional access systems (CAS). Hybrid clouds offer the flexibility of opening up non-sensitive data, while protecting sensitive business data on-premises, securely behind the company firewall.

Community Cloud

Community clouds are a subset of hybrid clouds. They are built and operated specifically for a targeted group. These targeted groups or communities have similar cloud requirements and closely aligned goals that they work together towards.
Clouds are also classified based on the types of services they offer. Based on this classification there are four categories of clouds:

Infrastructure-As-A-Service (IaaS)

This is perhaps the most rudimentary form of cloud service available. It allows usage of infrastructure as a service. This refers to the renting out of storage and server facilities.

Platform-As-A-Service (PaaS)

PaaS offers the on-demand environment required to perform a task. These environments are ideally equipped for developing, testing, delivering and managing software applications. It enables immediate deployment of the necessary environment and eliminates the hassle of setting up underlying infrastructure and frameworks.

Software-As-A-Service (SaaS)

This is one of the most commonly used services of clouds. It facilitates the usage of software over the cloud. These services mostly come with a subscription fee based on the usage arrangement.

Functionality-As-A-Service (FaaS)

FaaS is the evolved version of PaaS. It provides an additional layer of abstraction to PaaS. This helps insulate developers from everything in the stack below their code. In other words, it helps circumvent the hassles of getting entangled with virtual servers, containers, and application runtimes. FaaS applications do not take up IaaS resources until an event occurs, thus making it economical as well.

Applications of Cloud Computing for Manufacturing

Cloud computing and other disruptive forces of technology like ML, AI, and advanced sensor technology are the primary movers of Industry 4.0. Cloud-based systems enable research, design, and development of new products. It widens the horizon with innovative solutions to reduce product development costs and enables swift turnaround time.

It offers manufacturers the advantage of better intelligence through the power of data analytics. Today, the cloud has increasingly become the central venue for data storage, analytics, and intelligence for manufacturers across the globe. It not only empowers manufacturing operations to be more productive, cost- and energy-efficient but also ensures safety.

Cloud Computing And Other Technologies​

The growth of cloud computing combined with other technologies are leveling disparities between physical systems and also redefining the boundaries of functionality between them. With cloud computing and data analytics, the wealth of data generated throughout the production process can now be used to stimulate further growth with a competitive advantage.