Social media, streaming services, and search engines – more and more services and systems are benefiting from the advantages of cloud computing. With the increasing complexity of IT and software infrastructures within and between companies, professional cloud solutions can help with the development of efficient and flexible company processes. This puts an end to limited adaptability within in-house IT departments. The decision to use cloud-based solutions or providers is, however, always an emotional one – the "cloud" requires trust in data security.
More than 50 percent of European companies* are already active in the cloud or are planning to introduce it and have therefore recognised the importance of cloud-compatible systems in the age of digitalisation and automation. Mobile access to IT resources and data regardless of location enables virtual work from anywhere, efficient processes, real-time evaluations, and faster scalability of IT services.
According to a KPMG study, around a third of companies are already using public clouds (external) and this number is increasing. However this still primarily concerns non-critical, non-sensitive company data that is already publicly accessible, such as website content.
The integration of innovative business solutions with the existing IT application environment in the cloud requires both providers and users to have a well thought-out strategy. Business benefits and the strategic planning of data security management (cloud security) are essential considerations for such integration. It is therefore important not only to align with the security standards of the provider but for a company to assess its own needs (e.g., sensitive versus non-sensitive data) and to document and meet these requirements extensively together with the providers.
The thought processes that deter people from company-external solutions are usually emotional. Those responsible for making the decision fear unauthorised access to – and the loss of – sensitive company data as well as competitor spying. However, in-house IT departments are often less adept when it comes to comprehensive IT security procedures. Small and medium-sized businesses are not able to keep up with the security infrastructure of cloud providers on the basis of legal regulations.
At the end of May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation came into force. Since then, companies must have adapted their compliance processes with regard to personal data if they intend to store or process the data of EU citizens**. This also applies to cloud-based solutions. Both the cloud providers (data processors) and the cloud users (data controllers) are responsible for implementation and compliance, whereby, for example, the provider must provide the basis for data-protection-friendly input. The legislation also stipulates that the data processing center and the headquarters of the provider - and therefore the data itself - are located within the EU.
The logistics sector has also recognised the advantages of the cloud and is now offering its customers cloud-compatible intralogistics solutions and systems. Companies are using central, cloud-based server structures to optimise their in-house supply chain. Logistics generates a lot of data that is then often not used efficiently. Cloud-supported warehouse management systems make it easier to respond quickly and efficiently to the evaluated data, regardless of the location of the warehouse. The same applies to predictive maintenance, which uses large volumes of data to provide valuable information regarding system maintenance.
As an integral part of the digitalisation process, the cloud will become increasingly relevant to logistics and industrial automation when it comes to networking companies (multi-cloud) or creating synergies on the basis of big data analyses. A trend away from classic in-house IT systems towards cloud-based systems is already under way and is set to open up further potential for innovations in future.
Temporary or seasonal load peaks in logistics require a sizing of the IT infrastructure. Thanks to their flexible scalability, cloud solutions can unlock savings potential.
Author: Klaus Zlöbl
* Cloud-Monitor 2017 | KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft
** Vogel Business Media GmbH
Klaus Zlöbl completed his telematics studies at the Graz University of Technology and has held various positions in software development since 1991. He has been contributing his experience to SSI SCHAEFER since 2011 and has been responsible for the system architecture of WAMAS since 2014. In this position he deals with the use of new technologies and developments for the WAMAS product portfolio.