AWS Lambda is an event-driven, serverless computing platform that has doubled its size from 12% in 2016, to 23% this year (Netflix runs on this). This, together with the increasing adoption of Containers (Docker container adoption in AWS grew from 18% to 25% in nine months this year proving that businesses rely on it (and microservices) to build apps), shows that whilst these approaches to enterprise software delivery are early in their adoption curve, they are becoming a viable solution as companies want to adopt agile solutions and manage the cost of the cloud. AWS states that 1 in 4 respondents from its survey are actually using containers and Amido is already working with forward-thinking organisations to align business strategies with digital and IT transformation to enable growth.
“We are going to see an increasingly rapid move to commoditised services enabling business and customer value to be delivered at pace to those who are willing to invest in these technologies. Experimentation and learning are pivotal to being able to understand these technologies. Consider giving over 10 to 20% of the time of your engineering teams to focus on experimental products – this does wonders for staff morale and skills. In addition, it can even deliver some tangible business value over time,” says Richard.
Alex Hilton, CEO of The Cloud Industry Forum concludes: “The cloud industry is evolving at a pace and over the past year we’ve seen some really interesting examples of how cloud can fuel digital disruption and intersect with other next generation technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and IoT. This will continue into 2018, though we expect the industry to start focusing more closely on cloud outcomes. This will offer businesses a better understanding of how the trailblazers and disruptors are really innovating in the market.”
Trend 2 – IoT is on the Edge
“We can’t talk about IoT without sharing my favourite quote from Twitter: ‘In a relatively short time we’ve taken a system built to resist destruction by nuclear weapons and made it vulnerable to toasters’ and he’s dead right!” shares Richard Slater.
The proliferation of things connected to the internet has meant that Edge Computing is hugely important for all industries. Research firm IHS predicts that IoT will grow to reach a staggering 75 billion devices by 2025.
IoT has contributed to a serious rise in the types and amount of datasets generated and there needs to be a way to aggregate, analyse and distribute that data from the ‘things’ and send it back to the ‘things,’ quicker. Currently, Edge computing technology such as AWS Greengrass collects data and processes it from nearby items to send it back to the cloud where analytics and ML can take place in order to make decisions – or make sense of the data – before sending the data back to the edge and then to the things – to make them more intelligent. The next wave will be for the compute to move from the cloud towards the edge giving the objects the ability to make intelligent real-time decisions; a car needs to make a split-second decision on whether it should apply the brakes to avoid an accident, for example. Edge computing holds data analysed from the cloud that is immediately passed to the object for instantaneous updates and responses, and Amido highlights that Cloud to the Edge data distribution is essential to improve customer experience in industries like manufacturing, health and retail.
IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) – “As Phillip Hammond mentioned in this year’s Budget, we are on the verge of a technical revolution and this 4th Industrial Revolution or ‘Industry 4.0’ is hotter than hell right now,” said Steve Jones, Principal Consultant at Amido. This was reflected in the Chancellor’s 2017 Autumn Budget which saw a further £2.3bn allocated for investment in research and development, the formation of a new national centre for computing, and a national retraining scheme to boost digital skills and to support the expansion of the construction industry.
The UK Government has also recently (October 2017) published a consultation paper “Made Smarter Review” which references the World Economic Forum’s prediction that Digital Industry Transformation represents a USD $100 trillion opportunity. Coupled with the well documented and pressing need for the UK Government to address the weak productivity of the UK economy, we can expect to see a lot of focus in this area over the next few years.
There are roughly 6.4 billion data-communicating objects in the world right now and this number is forecast to triple by 2020 (Accenture). The overwhelming majority of these objects will be “things” – whether cars, white goods or industrial assets: smart machines. These smart machines – featuring a multitude of sensors, automation proficiency and machine to machine communication capability – constitute the IIoT. IIoT will enable data-driven manufacturing, where process and floor-wide monitoring are able to optimise efficiency and quality (through the application of machine learning to big data). This is being heralded as the revolution that will introduce huge productivity boosts to industry.
As AMRC Sheffield launches its Factory 2050 to facilitate the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), the potential for Edge Computing within Industrial IoT is accelerating. It is the UK’s first state of the art factory entirely dedicated to conducting collaborative research into reconfigurable robotic, digitally assisted assembly and machining technologies. Amido sees the rising need for high variation and mass customisation of manufacturing throughout a diverse range of engineering sectors to shorten lead times and optimise costs accumulated throughout the supply chain, and that can rapidly ramp production up or down to meet demand. Big data technology processes large volumes of information, collected by sensors on each machine, cell and the building itself to enable automation – without forsaking the need for humans. Yet, humans will benefit from sensors within a factory or at a hospital, for instance. Look at how Fujitsu with its UBIQUITOUSWARE takes in an immersed reality with its products that enable humans to do a better job with the use of real-time analytics and data collected from other scenarios. If you fell in the factory or if there’s a potential danger, edge technology and sensors can feed and receive this information directly to and from the worker. “Machines can cause harm – robots that know when humans are close and slow down to protect them are an important part of the Industry 4.0 or IIoT revolution,” concludes Richard Slater.