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.
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.
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:
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.