Manufacturers Find Lower Costs, Greater Capabilities in Cloud Computing
May 21, 2013
Cloud-based computing (or software-as-a-service, SaaS) solutions have continued to grow in functionality, robustness, and reliability. As a result, these innovative systems have become more attractive to manufacturers and industrial firms, even for critical applications like enterprise resource planning (ERP). Research by Mint Jutras Louis Columbus, senior manager for Microsoft Enterprise Systems at software provider Cincom, writes in Forbes To meet those challenges, cloud-based platforms are helping companies capture and apply knowledge and intelligence through advanced analytics, business intelligence (BI), and rules engines. Cloud services are allowing fast deployment of supplier and reseller portals, collaboration environments, marketing automation, human resources, and customer service and support. Cloud providers are doing a good job of seamlessly integrating such services into their offerings and providing management tools like dashboards. Matt Haller, principal at Chicago-based professional-services firm Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, writes that Haller cited the case of Hiawatha Rubber, a Minnesota manufacturer in the precision rubber molding business. In shopping for a new ERP system, Hiawatha evaluated a cloud-based ERP system called Plex Manufacturing Cloud David Miller, chief security officer for Covisint Understandably, some internal IT organizations have been leery of this trend. Miller thinks that "cloud computing is not being driven by the IT organization. The business is really driving this. It's driven by the businesses deciding to outsource a function that it doesn't make sense to do in-house anymore. The business is making the decision, and IT departments are having to react to it." Kristof Kloeckner, general manager for IBM Rational Software "What some people tell me," he told IMT, "is they see cloud computing as one of the major elements to driving transformation of the IT delivery services from the traditional way of 'We build it, we own it, we run it,' to a new view that 'We are responsible for it,' which includes sourcing solutions from wherever it's most appropriate, whether that's in-house or through managed hosting, or from a provider completely external." Not all computing solutions need to be hosted and operated from the same location using the same resources, but decision makers should be prepared to adopt a flexible approach to deploying solutions. "Which workloads have to be supported in which environments with which quality of service?" Kloeckner added. That could mean keeping some solutions on-premises while handing off other tasks to the cloud, whenever it makes sense to do so.