Clouds on the horizon

Manufacturers are under extreme pressure to digitise.

The Manufacturing Execution Systems market has been pretty lively in 2020-21, noted Gartner. Much of the activity has been the crush of vendors rushing to embrace microservices, containerized applications and low-code/no-code development, wrote Rick Franzosa senior director analyst at Gartner.

In a blog by Franzosa he noted, specifically the 20 per cent of our 50 surveyed vendors with microservices on their roadmap in 2019 has ballooned to 75 per cent in 2021.

The main driver pushing the microservices development frenzy in this market is the cloud. This is due to a number of factors including

COVID-19 underscored the necessity for more pervasive access and control, and the benefits of cloud-based solutions in not only enabling the new “work from anywhere” paradigm, but as a fundamental next-generation technology enabler.

Cloud is mandatory for business initiatives for connected factories and digital supply chains to drive scale in digitization/smart factory initiatives for manufacturing operations.

Emerging technologies (example: 5G and edge computing) are removing the last remaining concerns that manufacturers have about performance and uninterrupted availability in cloud solutions.

Gartner has predicted that the survivors in MES will be a cloud-native solutions, supported by on premise edge technology to provide an 100 per cent availability should the cloud connection be interrupted. Despite how business will be done in the future and the clear imperative, the MES vendor response to cloud has been mixed:

There are still a few MES vendors that respond to our questions on cloud deployment with “we can provide a cloud version, but our customers are not asking for it”

There are others that take the relatively easy (and ineffective) road of virtualisation, taking the MES monolith and installing in on a private server somewhere for each customer requesting a cloud solution

The majority of on premise MES vendors are making the move to microservices, PaaS, containerized applications, etc. specifically aiming at a cloud future.  Some have already released these offerings, with portions of the solutions currently cloud-native.

Finally, there are MES solutions that were designed and built as cloud-native solutions, initially found in mostly discrete manufacturing environments where latency and availability requirements are less rigorous.



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