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The manufacturing industry is in the midst of a technological upheaval. Manufacturing securityrisks, the maturation of 3D printing as a production tool and the growing utility of the Internet of Things (IoT) are all driving manufacturers to adopt cloud solutions. Here’s what’s next for cloud computing in manufacturing.

Low costs will promote adoption of cloud computing in manufacturing.

Although cost is no longer the dominant motivation for cloud adoption, it’s still a significant force — particularly in industries such as manufacturing that have been slow to move to the cloud.

Many manufacturers are stuck on legacy servers which are expensive to maintain and require specialized IT support. Even those using modern onsite ERP typically spend up to 35% of their budget on IT, which can be slashed dramatically with a move to the cloud. A typical SMB in Symmetry’s SAP HANA cloud, for example, will save $130,000-$150,000 or more in the first 3 years, compared to HANA appliances and TDI.

Security will become a bigger focus for the manufacturing cloud.

Data breaches in healthcare, financial services and commercial organizations get a lot of coverage because those industries are obligated to disclose them. Manufacturers are more likely to keep incidents quiet, but behind the scenes, the security situation is dire. There were 97 reported attacks on critical manufacturing in the 2015 fiscal year — up 49.2% from the previous fiscal year, and the true number of attacks across the industry is likely much higher.

Industrial control systems (ICS) are particularly vulnerable to attacks, which can lead to data breaches, damage to equipment or even injury and death. Hackers infiltrate ICS provider’s websites, and booby-trap firmware updates with malware, infecting the ICS as soon as it’s installed. In other cases, they use spear phishing to trick employees into downloading compromised files.

Cloud computing in manufacturing will increasingly be used to reduce the risks and mitigate the damage of hackers. While on-premise systems are not designed with modern security needs in mind, cloud manufacturing security allows organizations to implement better access control and monitoring, reducing the risks of hacker infiltration, and mitigating the damage caused by successful breaches.

Rapid scaling of cloud computing in manufacturing will accelerate innovation.

The cloud brings rapid scalability that isn’t possible in onsite ERP. For example, Symmetry built Karma Automotive an SAP HANA cloud that can scale up to 12 TB, shattering existing virtualization limits. This provides a level of flexibility that wouldn’t be possible in an onsite SAP hosting environment, where hardware and infrastructure have to be purchased, installed and configured in advance.

Manufacturers like Karma will increasingly use the cloud to scale up with minimal disruption as their company grows. This will allow businesses to take better advantage of big data in diverse areas, including quality control, business process optimization and real-time financial data analysis. It will also allow them to quickly adapt to new changes in the market and opportunities created by new technology. When a company wants to use new 3D printing techniques or integrate Internet of Things data into production, they’ll have the IT resources instantly available.

Cloud computing drives manufacturing innovation.

The age of on-site ERP is drawing to a close. As accelerating technological change and competition demand more agile approaches to IT, manufacturers need the flexibility, security and affordability of the cloud.

Contact us to learn how Symmetry’s managed cloud is driving innovation and excellence in manufacturing.

Matt Lonstine, Director of SAP Technology

A Leader and SAP technical veteran, Matt Lonstine oversees the SAP Technologists that make up Symmetry’s Delivery team, while providing strategic guidance to customers. Matt has managed and executed some of Symmetry’s most complex projects with a current focus on HANA, virtualization, disaster recovery, system hardening, and migrations to Symmetry’s SAP Cloud environment.