Cloud technology is a vital part of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT) – but what is the cloud?
The Cloud is based on data centres, whose data memory, high-performance processors and network technology provide the hardware on which the Cloud provisions are built. Users of Cloud solutions access these resources via the Internet in order to offer their services to end users in the shape of infrastructure, software or platform solutions. A data centre can of course also be used as a solution provider, just like a Cloud solution provider can access the hardware of various data centres. Users from a wide range of sectors use a web browser or mobile app to access the Cloud-based solution they want, such as municipalities in smart city projects, doctors and patients in telemedicine applications or vehicles as part of telematics solutions.
Basic Building Blocks of the Cloud
Referring to the cloud we mostly think of applications and software – still, the backbone which enables these services are the electronic components and data centres which store and process the huge amounts of user data. To give it some perspective: the European Commission predicts that the digital data traffic will reach 35 zettabytes (equals 35.000.000.000.000 GB) in 2020. This incredible amount of data needs not only bigger data centres but more efficient, capable and powerful server processors and storage technologies. This can be achieved with ultra-high packing density (number of transistors/processor), more cores on individual processors and innovative Solid State Drives (SSD) which are more energy efficient and faster than conventional hard drives.
Data Centers alone are only one part – to make them useful they need a fast and secure connection to the end-user devices. High-speed data transfer starts with digital-analogue converters for the signals and fibre-optic connections to transmit them. Accessing the cloud from everywhere further requires wireless communication, from Near Field Communication (NFC) to high-speed mobile connections like LTE to the upcoming 5G standard. At the end of the day all the end devices like smartphones and tablets can only make use of fast and efficient data centres when they are getting more capable of handling and processing the information. (read the full article “Elementary Particles” in the TQ Cloud Technology, p.18)
Energy-Efficient, Compact, Powerful!
Consumers want their handsets and tablets to have more power, to consume less energy and to be smaller in size. To meet the demand the British company ARM Limited has devised a special chip architecture precisely to those needs, delivering processors with low power consumption, at low cost, and featuring high packing density. ARM licenses semiconductor manufacturers to produce chips which are mostly integrated into so-called system-on-chip (SoC) solutions.
But while ARM is already dominating the smartphone market the company is getting also stronger in server sector. Currently, Intel’s 64-bit Atom processor is the state-of-the-art solution but due to ARM’s switch to the 64-bit architecture predictions foresee an up to 25 percent server market share for the company by 2019. (read the full article “Economical Small and Powerful” in the TQ Cloud Technology, p.26)
Choosing the right Cloud Solution
Using Cloud computing is not just about choosing a new technology, but first and foremost it is a strategic decision. First of all the cloud platform has to be compatible with your existing hardware. In order to keep the costs down, you want to choose an API (application programming interface) which is as small as possible while delivering the functionality you require. While XML is the pre-dominant protocol it is worth thinking about other options as well. Your cloud technology selection can further depend on the response time of applications and how long you want to store data in it. (read the full article “Ensuring the right Cloud Solution” in the TQ Cloud Technology, p.34)
To get a full overview about technology, how to secure data, which communication standard (WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC…) to choose and more you are welcome to download a free-copy of the knowledge magazine “The Quintessence” here or choose your OS to download the tablet app:
For a comprehensive overview of products available for the IoT and the cloud download our IoT guide here.