Cloud 4.0: Paving the Path for Industry 4.0

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The strict divide that used to separate the physical and digital world has been long outdated. Industry 4.0 originates from a simple idea: Merging an existing physical entity with advanced IT elements such as IoT, Cloud-Based Data, Sensors, Automators, and Analytics - Creating something that offers a surplus benefit than its original predecessor, Industry 3.0. The last industrial revolution – spanning the late 50’s to early 00’s, were used to achieve further automation in sectors such as manufacturing and to ease human labour by furthering production lines.

Nevertheless, Industry 4.0 takes this revolution steps way ahead of the curve, perfectly epitomizing a hyper-connected environment extending far beyond mere factory walls and production lines; one that hinges heavily on the power of automation, IoT, and cyber-physical systems to communicate and coordinate, all via cloud-computing - across industries internally, cross-organizationally, and even across industries. Such an integrated cloud platform that delivers both infrastructure services and platform services would benefit enterprises by enabling the hasty development of new business solutions and capitalizing on new digital technologies.

But how are enterprises expected to respond to the Fourth Industrial Revolution we’re currently in? To do so, one must first put it in perspective with the first three stages of industrial revolutions. The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to generate mass production. The Third utilized electronics and information technology to automate production. Which brings us to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which builds upon the Third.

Characterized as a ‘fusion of technologies’ which blurs the lines between physical, digital and biological domains, digital tools such as Cloud technology are heavily relied upon to guide the automation - prevalent in establishing Industry 4.0. Due to the increasing scale of Industry 4.0 fuelling the merger of the once divided worlds, Cloud in turn needs to step up its game by becoming more secure, connected, and automated, in order to remain relevant, attuned to the needs of every individual, and ensuring unparalleled user experience.
 
That’s not to say that Industry 4.0 is new technology – On the contrary, it’s a business discipline. Industry 4.0 is a massive shift towards automation and digitization, utilising the Internet of Things and cyber-physical systems such as sensors, to aid in data-collection for manufacturing verticals. From Aerospace to Agriculture, Chemical to Construction, different industries catering to different customer needs are all underpinned by a singular resource: Cloud Computing.

This is where Cloud – or Cloud 4.0 – comes in. Due to the merging of the two worlds - physical and digital – this signals disparate assets and dissimilar IT elements, all of which requires seamless harmonizing onto a single platform, all the while maintaining top-notch security, speed, agility and ease of access. Orange Business Services not only aids in this transition from Industry 3.0 to 4.0, but also specialises in the provision of the necessary tools and smart-platforms to enable businesses of all sizes to gain easy and affordable access to Cloud optimization – All in all, it’s a means to a physical end – improving productivity, accuracy and efficiency, all for higher productivity and higher cost reductions.

Indeed, Cloud offers up an environment for businesses to adapt to today’s rapidly changing technologies. With unprecedented compute, storage and networking capabilities, industries are now able to utilise the cloud platform to optimize their business processes, seamlessly run their applications, and ultimately gain visibility into the data and analytics that inform their next actionable insight. Additionally, the ability of innovative new applications on the cloud platform to adapt accordingly to individual needs is a great boon, boosted by its predictability and ability to perform consistently when confronted with massive amounts of data.
 
Additionally, industry-specific application cloud is now a new blue ocean that has presented itself as a relevant market for businesses everywhere. In short, this consists of vertical Clouds tailored to the needs of specific industries, such as patient care, manufacturing, banking, retail, and so on. Though vertical cloud remains unconquered, therein exists a tremendous demand due to the growing maturity of cloud platforms today. A solution with numerous benefits, some of them are as follows:

1. Reach and scalability: Cloud 4.0 is a solution spanning across different geographical regions of the world, enabling users to deploy workloads globally, optimizing reach without compromising performance.
 
2. Simplicity and flexibility: Aside from deploying and optimizing cross-region cloud applications, Cloud 4.0 is also capable of meeting the compliance, governance and regulatory requirements of varying markets.
 
3. Security: With cyberattacks random, and at times rampant, a Cloud 4.0 solution needs to leverage upon a robust globally-managed network, data centre infrastructure, and security services. It would be comprised of experts to proactively aid organizations in securing their IT infrastructure and implement cyber defence strategies.
 
4. Cost savings: This is achieved through a pay-as-you-go model, along with a slew of managed application services, thus helping businesses design and construct the most appropriate cloud architecture for optimal performance.

 5. Expertise: Cloud 4.0 leverages the strength and expertise of a global network, whilst providing security and collaboration services.

Take Orange Business Services for example: The demand for tailored Vertical Cloud solutions are prominent. For instance, Lane Crawford, a leading retailer of specialty and luxury goods in Hong Kong and China, adopted a higher flexibility and scalable solution in order to accommodate changes in their business demand, influenced by seasonal shipping, sales, and promotional activities. Adopting a vertical Cloud 4.0 solution greatly enabled their business to meet the rapid growth of online shopping in massive China, better attuning themselves for the unique retail market they are in.

The same applied for Borgward Driverless Cars, a German luxury car manufacturing company, adopted a hybrid cloud deployment with an optimum solution design. This aided them in their customer globalization journey by providing speedy deployment, data sovereignty, and top-notch operational quality and performance.

Upcoming Trends in Cloud Adoption

In the near future, industries are expected to continue adopting tech automation, data analytics, and smart machines, in an attempt to improve productivity and efficiency levels. Coupled with the constant push for enterprises to expand abroad in order to remain competitive, it is an undeniable fact that there will be an increase in IT applications on the cloud, and across geographical regions.
 
Businesses need to realise that not all cloud solutions were created equal, and it’s imperative to select one that meets all their needs. Industry 4.0 – or to use in parallel, Cloud 4.0 – is an eventual revolution, one that industries will have to eventually adopt to aid their transition into a new world.

Derrick Loi

As Global VP, OCBi (Orange Cloud for Business International), Derrick is responsible for growing the Data Centre, Cloud and digital business and activities; spanning across Asia Pacific, Europe, Americas as well as Emerging Markets.

With 20+ years of experience in enterprise data centre, hosting, cloud and telco managed services in APAC, Derrick has a rich and diverse background in regional sales, pre-sales, SP channels, business development, product management and professional services for various managed DC and ICT services; holding management positions in organizations such as SingTel, Cisco and Citrix.