Cloutomation Group Promotes the Manufacturing Cloud

July 31, 2013
Coining the term “cloutomation,” Kai Mariappan has launched an effort to promote better understanding of cloud services through a LinkedIn group and ultimately a portal website.

What do you get when you combine cloud technologies with automation? Cloutomation, of course! In his presentation earlier this year at The Automation Conference (TAC), Kai Mariappan, at the time plant controls specialist and senior controls engineer at Coca-Cola’s plant in Egan, Minn., talked about the need to use cloud technologies in automation maintenance.

As promised at TAC, Mariappan—now senior automation engineer at Saint-Gobain—has launched a Cloutomation group on LinkedIn in an effort to rally industry behind cloud use in manufacturing, and to build and promote the portal www.cloutomation.com.

The group’s numbers are relatively small (at this writing, membership hadn’t yet reached 50), but they have been actively sharing articles about cloud services in manufacturing—everything from how cloud computing is revolutionizing manufacturing to where cloud automation can go wrong. Other useful articles have included understanding cloud jargon as well as the legal issues of cloud computing.

In a group post, Larry Asher, engineering director at system integrator TEC Systems Group, took the discussion further, addressing a list of concerns surrounding cloud computing in a post titled "Partly Cloudy."

“Despite the growing acceptance of the cloud, it still feels like the overwhelming majority have major reservations about moving forward with cloud-based solutions,” Asher writes. “In order for a viable automation solution to exist on the cloud it seems that one of the first goals of Cloutomation would be education and working to ensure a sense of confidence in cloud-based solutions/technologies.”

As a means to move forward, Asher goes on to identify objections to cloud-based solutions: security, reliability, and subscription cost. “While I believe these concerns are real and valid, I also believe the biggest concern which can be seen at the root of all these is the loss of autonomy,” he adds, noting that cloud-based solutions ask companies to give up some of their autonomy.

Mariappan has promoted understanding of the cloud heavily within the group, contributing most of the links that provide good background and details. In one of his latest posts, he notes that he plans to develop a global cloud product, and advocates the BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard, which tracks the international policy landscape.

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