Cloud computing challenges and fears for manufacturers

Cloud computing is changing the world of manufacturing, but many companies are concerned about visibility and security when it comes to their information and security.
By Goran Novkovic February 15, 2018

Cloud computing is shaping the world of manufacturing and is causing a transformational shift in the way manufacturing organizations do business, manage software applications, and pursue data security in an increasingly complex regulatory environment.

Cloud computing offers multiple benefits for manufacturing organizations. However, these benefits incorporate unique technical and business challenges. Cloud computing raises many security concerns, which, if not well understood and managed by manufacturing organizations, can increase fear and turn the cloud experience into an information security disaster. 

For many manufacturers, they are plagued with the same fear preventing them from using the cloud. And that fear is visibility.

This fear is two-fold. One, it creates a new type of digital visibility. Not every enterprise is comfortable moving critical operation data and resources from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud. Having everything at the facility and under the key may provide the manufacturer added peace of mind. With cloud computing, this is not the case anymore. It has gone to the cloud and is not physically accessible.

The other side of this fear is loss of visibility. A loss of visibility could come from security issues, from the cloud service provider (CSP) or even the internet service provider (ISP). If this happens, the loss of visibility means less control over regulatory compliance, the software, and data assets, as well as security integration with existing infrastructures.

On a positive note, CSPs are offering various software tools and features that support cloud visibility. Manufacturing organizations should use these tools for cloud monitoring and auditing purposes.

Cloud computing brings a significant change to the traditional platforms upon which manufacturing and operational services are translated, used and managed. Thus, every manufacturing organization needs to evaluate risks and opportunities and decide whether cloud computing is an appropriate solution for its business. The adoption of cloud computing should always be subject to careful evaluation, and in particular, be aligned and integrated with risk management processes and information security governance of the organization.

One of the main tasks for a manufacturing organization to act as a cloud service customer (CSC) is to rigorously protect software applications and data assets while satisfying regulatory compliance. Even without cloud computing, most manufacturing organizations already manage their compliances with multiple laws and regulations.

In general, there is no difference in managing software and data regulatory compliance in the cloud versus on-premises, it is just different environment. The only difference is with cloud computing, the manufacturing organizations heavily depend on infrastructure and services provided by CSPs and ISPs.

Goran Novkovic, MESA International. This article originally appeared on MESA International’s blog. MESA International is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com.

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