The benefits of cloud-native applications in manufacturing

Posted on 23 Feb 2022 by The Manufacturer

In this piece, Neil Bellinger, Head of EMEA at global automation parts supplier, EU Automation, delves into the cloud-native and why it is the future of manufacturing.

The cloud-native approach is often conceptualised using the “Pets vs. Cattle” DevOps concept, which compares traditional server systems, which are unique and cared for, to pets and cloud systems to cattle. Cattle are identical, assigned, scalable systems where if one of the systems were to be unavailable or fail, the whole network would not be affected.

Given the value of the cloud, one wonders why the manufacturing industry is resisting the move to cloud-native systems, especially with companies already using various cloud-based applications.

Until recently, manufacturing industries have been up to date with the latest innovations, from production tracking systems to artificial intelligence. Although financial and retail sectors have followed business giants like Netflix and Spotify, many still resist the switch to cloud-native. While 83% have a strategy for cloud implementation established, many still struggle to visualise the business value and cost savings of the cloud-native approach. However, forward-looking businesses are making the first steps in this direction. For example, one company currently implementing cloud-native applications is Volkswagen, training more than 200 specialists for its cloud-innovation centre.

Cloud-native is the term used to describe software and services that run on the internet instead of a local computer system, allowing businesses to be faster and more agile. Cloud-based applications, however, are not created in the cloud but instead transferred from an in-house web application to a cloud server. This cloud-based system allows for the availability and scalability of cloud-native applications without redesigning current applications. Cloud-enabled is similar to cloud-based, with the migration of the traditional application to the cloud. However, it does not have easy availability and scalability of cloud-based or cloud-native.

Some examples of cloud computing in the manufacturing industry are cloud-based marketing, product development, production and stock tracking, and productivity management.

The responsiveness, innovative features and zero down-time deployment of the cloud-native model provide businesses with a database needed to succeed in modern times. Successful examples of this implementation are Netflix and Uber. Netflix currently operates using over 600 services, with an update rate of around 100 times per day. The structural design of the cloud-native enables the rapid response, scalability, and selective deployment observed in companies such as Uber, Netflix and Spotify.

The cloud-native revolution

Cloud-native is the clear future of all businesses, including manufacturing. As seen in the last two years, implementing changes to aid when mass disruption like the pandemic occurs is extremely important for business survival. With accessibility possible from across the globe via the internet, the cloud-native approach is the best change companies could make.

The restriction of large on-premise systems has held back the manufacturing industry for years, but cloud-native applications enable companies to use small, reusable and independently deployable microservices. It can also allow the automation infrastructure, application delivery, recovery and scaling to increase, providing a more resilient and high performing system. The cloud-native model can also aid in lessening the strain of managing back-end software and infrastructure.

Cloud-native apps also enable the sharing and analysing of data across the organisation by being the central repository for data flowing from sensors, machines, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), and more. At EU Automation, we value the importance of keeping with the times and understanding the cost of down-time. Cloud-native is the next step in lessening the impact of failures in company systems.