Pushing IT infrastructure into the cloud helps stone manufacturer focus on core business

Increasingly, cloud technology is being embraced by companies as a way to do more with less. For example, a fast-growing stone manufacturing company recently pushed its entire infrastructure out to the cloud.

12/13/2011


The company’s traditional hub-and-spoke architecture, with all IT assets located in one data center, could no longer serve the diverse needs of its geographically dispersed manufacturing, distribution, and retail operations. Overtaxed network and server resources meant constant outages in production and at the point-of-sale (POS) stations at many of the company’s store fronts. Once the systems came back online, it took employees hours to rebuild and recreate everything electronically, costing time and money.

Cloud-based automation is the topic of the Control Engineering December 2011 cover story and related online extras.The company learned that to have a reliable IT infrastructure, it would take hundreds of thousands of dollars and expertise they did not have on staff to upgrade its network and other systems. Instead, it decided it made better financial and business sense to employ cloud resources. As a result, today the company’s entire business runs in the cloud. Everything from POS terminals to engineering to the phone system leverages cloud resources, enabling each operation to run independently with plenty of capacity, yet stay connected in ways that have benefitted the business greatly.

For example, using the cloud, the company’s supply chain and product lifecycle management systems can be much more sophisticated. From the cloud, it can track product from conception to raw materials to production. In addition, through a wireless system connected to the cloud, staff can determine where a product is located at any given time and have real-time access to all sales data from across the company.

The cloud will also help the company as it grows, giving it the ability to rapidly scale as more locations are added. Security has been enhanced as well. All laptops and POS devices are dumb thin clients that contain no company information. All data is kept securely in the cloud until needed. Another benefit has been the ease with which the company has been able to integrate acquired companies into its business. The cost of acquisitions has dropped, because the company can deploy and transition assets into the cloud much faster and easier than it could if it tried to incorporate legacy assets in the traditional manner.

Relying on the cloud for its IT needs has brought this manufacturer multiple benefits. However, perhaps the most important improvement has been its ability to focus on what it does best: producing and delivering stone products.

Information for this article was provided by Jeremy Sherwood, cloud and virtualization product manager, ScienceLogic, and edited by Jeanine Katzel, Control Engineering contributing content specialist. For more on the application of cloud technologies, visit the ScienceLogic website at www.sciencelogic.com.

See other cloud-based automation articles associated with the December 2011 Control Engineering cover story.



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