While cloud computing is one of the latest trends in the IT industry, the delivery of computing and storage capacity as a service is not that new. In fact, some of the underlying concepts of cloud computing date back to the 1970s with users accessing mainframes via thin clients or terminal computers.
Yet, cloud computing is not something that any company, especially those in the manufacturing industry, can afford to blindly adopt. The mission-critical nature of manufacturing operations and their systems necessitate a cautious approach and one that is not very open to cloud-based solutions.
Manufacturers are wary about a multi-tenant approach, which sees multiple companies use the same cloud services on the same platform. They want a service that is dedicated to them and tailored to suit their unique needs.
Mission-critical software like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) also requires an absolute certainty that things are running the way they should. Imagine the consequences to a business if the manufacturing systems go down for a few hours due to a problem with the cloud.
Manufacturers are also wary about who accesses their data when it is in the cloud. Another question is who owns that data? If a manufacturer relies on vendor X for its cloud requirements and that vendor decides to either move its servers or close its business, then what happens to the data?
In general, manufacturers are suspicious about the cloud for mission-critical applications. When you are a manufacturer, you cannot rely on a solution that makes every customer work the same way. You need something that is tailored to your specific requirements.
For manufacturing, ERP solutions in the cloud are a challenge for the industry and not something that can easily be solved with an out-of-the-box solution. While one needs to monitor developments in the cloud space, it is not yet at the mission-critical or customizable level that manufacturers require.