7 benefits you must know about cloud computing in automation

All the information about your assets is in the cloud and your entire team can access it by working together on a collaborative platform.

Cloud computing is one of the essential features of IIoT solutions. I am sure you’ve already heard about it, but what it really is and how it works is not clear yet, right?

Don’t worry, today the idea is to talk a little bit more about cloud computing and give you 7 reasons for applying it after reading this article.

There’s is no way back, believe me! Digitalization is happening everywhere and it won't stop at your field devices. Even 4-20 mA/HART devices will be affected.

And since it’s so easy to install an outstanding Industrial Internet of Things solution without making significant changes to your instrumentation or automation concept, you’ll want to do it too!

You don’t know how to upgrade your plant? Make a start by reading the article, How to take the first steps towards IIoT using WirelessHART. There, I describe a straightforward way to implement IIoT in your plant using WirelessHART adapters.

If you use PROFIBUS,  just read the article, A simple way of adding IIoT to a PROFIBUS network.

I mention these articles so you know, no matter what, that you are ready for digitalization. There are many possibilities on the market to beef up your process by creating a smooth integration into IIoT platforms using cloud computing.

Enough said. Now let's learn about cloud computing and take a close look at the 7 reasons why you should use it after reading this article – no kidding!

What is cloud computing?

First of all, it's vital to answer the basic stuff, such as what cloud computing is and why you should care, right? There are many cloud computing definitions on the internet, but they all boil down to the same thing. Based what I saw, I have written a clear definition for you:

"Cloud computing is the accessibility of computational resources to computing and data power. The users have an on-demand service where they don't have direct active management of the cloud but do have access to its services."

A  cloud solution offers more than just data storage and power - it can serve an application by providing "everything as a service" or using the service models defined by NIST: SaaS (Software as a Service), IaaS (Infrastructure as a service), and PaaS (Platform as a service).

Finally, the field is connected to the cloud by a so-called edge device or edge server.

Netilion is a good example of cloud computing

Netilion is an IIoT cloud with many services for end users. Each solution brings real benefits for a particular application or industrial branch. Take Netilion Analytics, for example.

It's responsible for connecting your assets to the Netilion Analytics. It organizes them and brings clarity and transparency to your plant and also gives powerful insights into your installed base.

Netilion shows us how powerful cloud computing is and how it can provide different services using an IIoT cloud-based solution. For some of these services, you need an edge device to connect the assets to the cloud, where you can read all information in a digital twin of your application.

Cloud computing security

I don’t know how you see it, but I always imagine a massive cloud hovering over my plant, collecting all the data.  

Cloud Computing

Anyway, when we are talking about cloud computing, I am sure tons of questions regarding security pop up in your mind, right? That’s OK! We do need to take care of our data and privacy and the IIoT cloud must ensure that your information is secure.

The Netilion ecosystem, for instance, works to high-level standards such as ISO 27001 (Information Security Management), ISO 20000 (Service Management System), ISO 9001 (Quality Management System) and it got the EuroCloud certification with a 4-star rating – best-in-class for process industries.

In addition, all data security follows the requirements of GDPR. The servers are located in Frankfurt and Dublin in the European Union, providing an addition level of cybersecurity.

Do you need more information? Here’s our article on cybersecurity, legislation, security, encryption of sensitive information and more. Read more about cybersecurity.

7 advantages of cloud computing

Great, now we are familiar with cloud computing and we have learned how safe and flexible its implementation is. Let me now give you 7 advantages of the IIoT cloud and why you should implement it after reading this article.

Wait, I almost forgot - you can try it out for free!

You can create your own account and see what Netilion has to offer. You’ll see how the IIoT cloud gives you all relevant information about your assets any place, anytime. A great user experience!

And now let’s look at the benefits.

Cloud computing can save costs

In general, new solutions always raise questions with customers. One of the most common is what is the initial cost of implementation? Usually, a traditional solution in the automation world will be a high-cost investment and it takes several years to get a return on investment (ROI).

When it comes to cloud computing, the investment is much lower than a traditional solution. For a start, you are free to try it out and see all the benefits that the IIoT cloud can bring to your plant before you actually invest.

In addition, the only connection you need between your assets and the cloud is an edge device. This connects to your field devices via e.g. PROFIBUS or WirelessHART and provides a safe, one-way connection between the field and the cloud. It’s as simple as that!

Cloud computing increases team collaboration

All the information about your assets is in the cloud and your entire team can access it by working together on a collaborative platform. Traditional solutions are mostly standalone. These don’t create a transparent environment for your team.

In contrast, cloud computing creates transparency for everybody.

An integrated solution with a collaborative platform and an excellent user interface can save time and create a more creative environment. Your team can see the same information and collaborate to solve problems and improve applications.

Cloud computing gives you access from wherever you are

Everything is in the cloud. That means, no matter where you are, you are independent of the type of device you are using, e.g. a laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc.

You have secure access to your cloud computing and see all the information or receive all the notifications wherever you are in your plant.

This gives you many advantages, for instance the ability to react to a particular situation faster than if you were using a traditional system.

Cloud computing provides better document control

Technical documentation can be a problem. I’m sure you can picture yourself in a situation where you have the wrong version of a document or you can't find it online. Yes, on some websites it’s still hard to find the technical documentation.

Netilion-Library-2-1

Cloud computing supports your team by having all documents in one place. Your team can share and create documents, facilitating access and saving time. A report that can be accessed by all the team can be generated and stored in the cloud for all interactions with a device, such as calibration or maintenance.

Cloud computing has high-level security

We’ve already talked about safety and how the IIoT cloud must follow legislation and standards to provide high-level security for the information. In addition to this, all messages exchanged between the edge device and the cloud are encrypted

You can read everything you need to know in our article, cybersecurity in industrial plants with IIoT: What really counts …and how safe is Netilion?

Cloud computing offers automatic software updates

When you have an IIoT Cloud, the service provider will take care of all the updates, including security and regular updates. Your team doesn't need to worry about updates, backing up the database or any other problem regarding software.

Everything is automatic, and you won't need to do anything.

This situation is different with standard software solutions. For a long time, I did technical support for asset management where I needed to save the database using a remote connection and then run the updates.

However, as you can imagine, I had many problems and the process was not very smooth. Thanks to IIoT, you avoid the pain of updating.

Cloud computing increases the power with knowledge

Cloud computing gives you access to critical information from your field devices - your team can then take action using this information.

The knowledge and transparency created by the IIoT cloud will empower your team to avoid downtimes, ultimately saving a lot of time and money.

Examples of cloud computing

Last but not least, I would like to give you some examples of cloud computing. The Netilion ecosystem pops up with a variety of services that focus on daily customer pain points to be found all over the world.

Netilion Analytics

This gives you a transparent view of your plant. You can have a simple overview of all devices installed and find out which of them needs to be replaced. Furthermore, the insight page provides you with powerful information about and graphs of your assets.

Netilion-Analytics

You can register your devices by taking a picture and adding few details to create a digital twin or install an edge device and make the magic of digital twinning happen automatically.

Netilion Health

This gives you an overview of the health of your field devices. The service uses an edge device.

Netilion-Health

You can then track all the health information of your assets with a graphic overview of when events occurred and much more.

Netilion Library

When we talk about Netilion Library, we are talking about a smart way to organize and save all your working files and documents in the cloud. It saves time when you need to find documentation, such as operation and maintenance files.

Netilion-Library

Moreover, the library is environmentally friendly, saving trees, as the information is online and available wherever you need it. Sounds great, huh?

Netilion Smart Systems

Finally, Netilion smart systems are intelligent and compact systems for specific applications, such as surface water and aquaculture. These solutions are plug-and-play, with remote access via an excellent user interface.

Netilion-Smart-Systems

If you want to take a closer look at all these solutions, I invite you to try Netilion Analytics, Health and Library for free and feel how digitalization is now a reality.

As I said before, there is no way back. The world is digital.