Cloud computing is gaining popularity day by day due to its obvious benefits. It provides companies to concentrate on the application rather than on creating infrastructure and maintaining in the long run. Windows azure can be very useful, if you are thinking to get into cloud computing. To get an overview you can view this link. Various concepts and usages are explained in a very nice fashion.
Now, how can process industry utilize the windows azure or any related cloud computing environment. ?? Many companies (Especially bigger one’s) have IT infrastructure to support their existing application.?? but are they enough??? or what if there applications are limited by the IT infrastructure they have ?? Or Companies dont have such robust infrastructure with them ???
Windows azure can help process industry too.
lets take few examples :
Example 1: Process industries (power,manufacturing units etc.) have unlimited process data with them generated 24 x 7. Most of the time these data are available on their intranet network. Many high level process efficiency indices can be derived using the process data they already have (such as total generation, unit wise generation, process efficiencies,Plant load factors, Availability)
But again these indices are on local network only. But it can be very helpful if higher management have these indices with them always.(may be on their mobile or where ever they are). Access to these indices can be very useful.
Or in case of any catastrophic issue in any unit or equipment failure the intimation can be sent as notifications. To make these data available securely on public network Windows Azure can be effectively utilized. Industries can expose these indices/exceptions/notifications using WCF (windows Communication Foundation) and then “Service Bus Relay” feature of Windows Azure can be used to send these data securely on public network. Which can then be viewed on web,mobile phones (may be using ASP.NET,Silverlight, Windows Phone, Android App, IOS App). Here in this example existing databases/storage can be utilized.
But what if that particular industry don’t have such infrastructure with them. Not to worry, Azure provides various storage mechanism (table, Blob, SQL Azure) which can be used to store data. As the frequency of process data can be very high, so deduced indices (As discussed above which can be derived using numerous data) can be saved to the Azure storage.
Suppose there is a turbine system in particular unit, turbine vibration data is produced in microsecond interval, use Streaminsight along with various pattern recognition methods to detect fault (if any) and rather than storing the whole data, the data which is of more importance i.e. fault in such system can be stored to azure storage (or exposed through WCF using existing database infrastructure) and later that notification can be pushed to management mobiles/laptop/ipad etc in real time.
Such hybrid system can be very useful to industries already having IT infrastructure. But even if industries don’t have such infrastructure and they still want to have a highly available, highly scalable and fault tolerant infrastructure ,Windows Azure can be one such solution.