What is the Difference Between a Commercial and Industrial Cloud
13 Dec, 2019
The adoption of cloud computing across diverse industries is currently at an all-time high and, according to Gartner, the adoption rate is expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future. The reason for this growing integration of cloud computing by enterprises is the flexibility, high performance, and scalability it brings to business processes. As with most disruptive technologies, cloud computing has many different facets and methods of application. Examples of these different cloud application techniques include the commercial and industrial clouds currently in use.
This article will discuss:
The industrial cloud, its definition, and application in manufacturing or production settings
The commercial cloud and its application in diverse industrial settings
The features of both commercial and industrial clouds
The differences between commercial cloud and industrial cloud services
What is the industrial cloud?
The industrial cloud refers to cloud systems or services that have been designed to serve a specific industrial process such as component manufacturing. In terms of configuration or types, industrial cloud services can be provided as private or public cloud options. They can also be packaged as proprietary solutions or as open-source solutions for industrial use.
It is worth stating that an industrial cloud is not a new type of technology or a paradigm-shifting concept or solution. It is simply a specific method or way of using cloud computing to handle industrial processes and challenges. Thus, it provides specific features and solutions designed solely for industrial or manufacturing processes, like EXOR’s X Platform.
What is the commercial cloud?
The commercial cloud refers to cloud computing systems built solely for the paying customer with no specific industry in mind. While some people might mistake a commercial cloud for public cloud solutions, this is often unhelpful. Enterprises can also choose to set up a private cloud ecosystem for themselves within a commercial cloud platform.
A commercial cloud requires some customization to meet industry-specific requirements especially for businesses functioning within the manufacturing industry. To accomplish the customization process, an enterprise may need to purchase additional management tools or features to accomplish industry-specific tasks. Examples of commercial cloud solutions include Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon Web Services.
Comparing commercial cloud to industrial cloud solutions
The first major difference between these cloud options can be found in how they are integrated into business operations. For the industrial cloud, its main focus is driving a vertical integration process when applied in an industrial setting. This means that the industrial cloud is designed to create more value when managing systems within the boundaries of the industry it is applied to.
Commercial cloud solutions employ a more horizontal approach to creating value. This means a commercial cloud is built to function outside the boundaries of a specific industry. When using commercial cloud solutions, extra work must be done to configure them to meet specific industry standards.
An example that highlights the vertical nature of an industrial cloud and the horizontal build of a commercial cloud can be seen in how they are deployed. In the manufacturing sector, a commercial cloud solution can be used to store customer details and also play a role in analyzing individual behavioral patterns to deliver enhanced customer services. This means that the commercial cloud solution also handles tasks outside of storing customer details. Where the industrial cloud is concerned, its vertical nature means the cloud solution can store equipment data and manage interconnected devices or other tasks closely related to manufacturing. The industrial cloud is highly specialized to function within a specific industry and rarely strays outside its core competencies.
Industrial clouds are also equipped with specific industrial features such as the ability to manage data and schedule tasks. They can determine the data that is to be sent to the cloud (and what data is not) through specific algorithms. Where scheduling is concerned, industrial cloud algorithms can take inventory data and other information from a shop floor and use the collected data to create production schedules that optimize the manufacturing process. This is generally known as a data-driven plant performance optimization approach to manufacturing.
On the other hand, commercial cloud solutions will struggle to handle these manufacturing-specific tasks. Enterprises that intend to use commercial cloud solutions will have to establish massive configuration processes to imbibe these capabilities into their cloud environments.
In terms of scalability – the ability to scale up on computing resources according to need – both the commercial and industrial cloud deliver excellently on this. But here again, the industrial cloud has the edge as it understands data, standards and regulatory policies associated with a specific industry. Thus, when scaling up, the enterprise gets more than just an increase in computing resources. The scalability of an industrial cloud occurs within the constraints set by the standards and policies of an industrial niche. This makes for a more high-performing environment while reducing computing costs.
The industrial cloud is also better equipped to handle the changes that come with embracing Industrie 4.0 concepts. Features such as the in-built ability to receive data from smart edge devices and integrate communication protocols as specified by OPC UA across TSN make it the best-in-class option for industrial cloud computing. This does not mean a commercial cloud solution cannot manage signals from smart edge technologies but more effort will be needed to prep it to accomplish industry-specific tasks.
Finally, the industrial cloud has a longer lifecycle in industrial settings and applications compared to the commercial cloud. This is because it has been specifically built to handle modern Industrie 4.0 models which are the future of industrial manufacturing. Also, in situations where it is built as an open-source solution, its longevity is further increased as newer features can be added to the industrial cloud solutions as the IIoT and data analytics field evolve.
Industrial cloud solutions provide specific benefits and advantages to manufacturing and its related fields than commercial cloud solutions offer. These specific benefits are the major reasons why the manufacturing industry is driving the adoption of cloud computing across the board. The smart revolution in manufacturing is also another major reason for the adoption of industrial cloud solutions. With this increased adoption rate comes the challenge of getting the best out of cloud computing and, as always, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of enterprises planning to adopt an industrial cloud.