Never say never
Sabisu was designed as a hybrid-cloud solution. We wanted the ease of deployment of a SaaS solution as that would in turn allow us that degree of agility missing from many existing vendors in the manufacturing systems sector. Cloud also gave us a conduit for delivering data to external third parties.
“No one will ever connect their processes to the cloud. ”
However it seemed unlikely that customers would ever want to move their process data to the cloud. Before 2011, the oil & gas/petrochems/manufacturing guys were actively against it on security grounds. There was a slight thawing up to 2015, where the position was that the benefits, costs and risks were neutral at best, so why bother?
Rolling the snowball
We couldn’t say there was a single reason to move to the cloud – there are lots of good reasons. We started with a single reason, then added another, then another and so on, like rolling a snowball causes it to grow.
For us, the first snowflake was collaboration. It’s been important to Sabisu since day #1. Collaboration between organisations needs an intermediary, so that’s some internet servers – or, well, the cloud.
Seamless data exchange was the second factor. The third was the need for a truly zero-touch SaaS implementation so customers could get up and running very quickly.
Then there was the need for elastic compute to support analytics. Next it’s machine learning. Then it will be Artificial Intelligence.
These capabilities demand technology that can’t be found on-premise. The snowball rolls and grows and suddenly the cloud looks like a smart move.
Everyone’s on this journey – some faster than others.
Non-industrial sectors now lead
Oil & gas, petrochemicals and manufacturing can be very conservative. The change has happened. Everyone is now looking outside their on-premise environment.
The two key catalysts are (i) tech marketing and (ii) non-industrial innovation.
Tech marketing has created a permissive environment regarding the cloud. This is your standard ‘Crossing the Chasm’ model; everyone watches the techies, visionaries and early adopters, then pick it up when it feels right to you, depending on how conservative you/your organisation is (hence early/late majorities, laggards).
For example, major capital projects: industrial projects are more likely to be early adopters than public sector projects. Or take petrochemicals plants; new plants may be early adopters, some running plants will be laggards.
That will change, of course, when the cloud capabilities mature into relevant killer applications for those sectors. That’s coming.
Small manufacturers who couldn’t previously afford historians, or complex MES systems will be winners – and therefore, early adopters.
The other change is that everyone is now used to their personal data living somewhere out of their reach. They’re used to easy, SaaS applications that put user experience first
Non-industrials are rinsing out the tech way before industrials. In the old days, tech would filter from high end industry out to consumers/retail (e.g., lasers, strain gauges). Not these days – and definitely not with the cloud.
For example, Google pioneered technology 10 years ago (e.g., MapReduce, PageRank) which industrials have not yet got their heads around. Strava takes billions of lines of process (time-series) data every day and drives analytics from it.
One step ahead
We’re seeing customers following now – but really, only just now. Our job is to stay ahead, ready for them.
The first step is to make it easy to get the data to the cloud. We’ve done it with Bridge and Appliance and others are no doubt doing the same.
There are of course rules preventing use of the cloud in many organisations. They’re being ignored. Users will break the rules to get what they want. Always have and always will.
Getting the data is the first step. Once you have it, you need to do something with it.
That’s where the SaaS capabilities are crucial. Self-service is essential as any implementation overhead will delay deployments, probably fatally.
Our approach has been to build SaaS capabilities into the platform:
- Pipelines, which provide an easy way to create charts, initiate processes in response to changing data
- Analytics that are powerful but easy enough for everyone to use
- Workflows and Actions which hook users and communities together to get work done
- Communities, so users can share data and administer groups of like-minded individuals
- Data Objects, so users don’t have to know anything about the data to use it
What about conservative customers?
We totally understand that some customers are not ready to go to the cloud.
Sabisu has on-premise Units at a number of customers which will be supported for the foreseeable future. It’s a success.
Indeed, the Unit will benefit from some changes that the cloud implementation will drive, moving to a micro-service, highly scalable architecture but with the confines of a virtual private cloud.
Ultimately there will always be some users who want a hardware platform with a server on top that they understand and feel comfortable managing.
We feel most new customers will be going to the cloud and will be ever more comfortable doing so.
We’re always interested in hearing from you with any comments or suggestions, feel free to get in touch.