Industry 4.0 in the context of cloud computing – nothing works without a cloud!

Industry 4.0 is on everyone’s lips! The forthcoming Hanover Fair and CeBIT will certainly enhance the relevance of this topic, highlighting many facets. While at CeBIT, the topic of Industry 4.0 will be discussed by business processes, applications and IT services, and where, for example, ERP and MES providers such as SAP, PSI Penta and others present themselves under this flag, are at Hannover Fair rather represented the true industrial specialists with a commitment to manufacturing, sensor technology and electrical engineering. The perspective on the topic is thus illuminated from two angles:

The approach to the complex topic Industry 4.0 is therefore very different and has the consequence for involved providers to have to exchange with the other camp from above or below in the sketched stack at some point. Business decision-makers, CIOs and even IT experts can not avoid defining the intersection with the lower layers of the embedded OS, CPUs and Smart Sensors.

The topic now forces these hitherto largely separate parties to exchange views and approach each other. In addition to security issues across all layers, the challenge is to present tangible use cases, installations, and visions of the future. However, a deep common understanding of the players operating in this value added network is so far in short supply.

From the USA and Korea, meanwhile, the Internet of Things spills over the pond and describes a very similar world in many places – public or virtual private cloud computing is a prerequisite. The only difference is that the “Internet of Things” appears to be less constrained and less subject to regulations and security concerns. Moreover, the idea consistently goes beyond new opportunities of industrial networking and adjacent networks.

The industrial location of Germany has to be careful not to miss its chance and to set the right course!

Background: We Germans have finally with Industry 4.0 now again a real German term coined and even established outside the country’s borders. The world has heard of it and wants to participate in it. The reason for this is not only the active discussion and support at the federal level or the industry associations, but also the memory of old German virtues and the chance for a renewed success story of our industrial nation. Although our “digital natives” will not be able to remember it, the managers currently sitting in the influential positions are already. It is the stories of the post-war period, in which, in addition to the great suffering always courage also played a role and in the basic tenor of the reconstruction and the economic miracle thanks diligence and sweat mitschwangen. The associated ambition of rebuilding and the previously demonstrated commitment to industrial plants or “Kruppstahl” can not be dismissed out of hand. We can hardly identify with any new topic as well as we can with Industry 4.0.

In today’s global competition, however, speed and quality in the go-to-market play an important role alongside quality and thoroughness. In analogy to IT, which moves more than ever in the direction of standardization, nowadays no fundamental limitation in a design can become a “show stopper”. Otherwise, no value networks can emerge beyond the existing borders – these are a basic prerequisite if Industry 4.0 is properly understood. It should rather be possible via transparent APIs or interfaces to exchange data in any direction. Too narrow a grip on the network and thus this trend can be dangerous in international competition.

The influence and relevance of cloud computing should not be underestimated!

The understanding of cloud computing and the increasing degree of maturity in terms of cloud management and orchestration meanwhile creates the IT basis for hybrid scenarios and thus the data flow across the individual networks.

The side layer Network, Broadband, Cloud, which is shown in the Industry 4.0 stack diagram, connects all relevant layers in the context of Industry 4.0. In addition to security, cloud computing is systemically relevant on the other side, ie crucial for a common data and information base in Industry 4.0 (I40). The problem of data storage in terms of architecture, security, time and location is far from being solved. Involved parties are almost desperately looking for a comprehensive and large-scale solution or database that all layers write to and use (all) layers. The data store should therefore be hybrid / federated, which is also very complex.

The continuous flow of data plays a system-relevant role in every imaginable scenario and thus requires networking via cloud computing. Irrespective of the level of communication or which area of ‚Äč‚ÄčIndustry 4.0 is affected, the data flow must be guaranteed. Therefore, the question arises, which system stores which data, how long data can be stored, which personal data is stored and processed in which form, and who holds the data sovereignty in this cloud-based value creation network? In the context of persistent security concerns, questions about company locations and the resulting NSA or espionage access options are also involved.

After Cloud Computing with Infrastructure, Platform and Application as a Service (XaaS) is omnipresent and already eight to ten percent of all German companies have converted their internal structures to cloud operation, the process landscape inevitably also tends towards standardization. It is still in its infancy to process in the cloud or process as a service and to make it usable, and it will also be a niche existence for an indefinite period of time. Meanwhile, the complexity of key business processes exceeds the functionality of tools and methods such as IDS Scheer based on the old ARIS model.

In addition to the sub-themes of big data, security and mobility, cloud computing plays a decisive role as a connection layer in the context of Industry 4.0. In the coming time, many open questions about data storage and storage will have to be clarified. It is clear, however, that parts of the Industry 4.0 value creation network will be located in every imaginable cloud form.

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