Why Manufacturing is Ready for the Cloud

The manufacturing sector stands on the brink of a digital revolution. As industries pivot towards smarter, more connected operations and future-proof technologies, the cloud emerges not just as an option but as a necessity. The cloud's promise of scalability, flexibility, and operational efficiency is too compelling to ignore, signaling that the sector is indeed ready and already marching to the cloud.

At First Resonance, we’re seeing the shift firsthand with the trailblazing manufacturers that comprise our customer base. These engineer-led organizations are positioning themselves for the rise of IoT and AI, and recognize that flexible solutions that can easily connect with new, emerging technologies will ensure their agility in an increasingly competitive landscape. 

On-premises solutions often have different architectures, infrastructure, and protocols compared to cloud solutions. This disparity can make it difficult to establish seamless communication and data exchange between the two environments without incurring costly and resource-intensive implementation and maintenance. 

Traditionally, manufacturing processes have relied on on-premise infrastructure – and some (although fewer and fewer) long-established institutions still do. However, as the industry progresses towards Industry 4.0 standards, cloud computing emerges as a game-changer. By migrating critical operations and data to the cloud, manufacturers unlock a plethora of benefits. 

Cloud solutions offer unparalleled scalability, enabling manufacturers to seamlessly adapt to fluctuating demands without hefty investments in physical infrastructure. Moreover, the cloud fosters connectivity across disparate systems and locations, facilitating real-time collaboration and data-driven decision-making.

Government-Grade Cloud Solutions

As manufacturers shift away from a do-it-yourself security and systems maintenance approach, they’re realizing that their data is better protected by the leading cybersecurity experts in the world. On cloud adoption by manufacturers, Gartner says “Latency is low, availability is high and security provided by cloud hosting services is often better than what is available from the manufacturer’s own IT department.” With cloud services, the effort and expense associated with security measures are eliminated. Cloud providers invest in state-of-the-art physical security controls, relieving companies of the financial burden.

Enter AWS GovCloud and Azure Government, cloud solutions tailor-made for the most stringent compliance requirements. These platforms are not just compliant; they're built from the ground up to meet the specific needs of government entities and regulated industries. For manufacturers tangled in the web of regulatory demands, these government cloud solutions offer a beacon of compliance, ensuring that data security and regulatory adherence are in lockstep with industry standards. 

The Decentralization of Automation

In the vast ecosystem of manufacturing, individual automation engineers often find themselves as custodians of their own digital realms. This decentralized approach, while innovative, brings its own set of security challenges, especially when dealing with comprehensive ERP systems. The common retort, "But my ERP is secure, right?!" highlights a prevalent misconception. Cloud security, with its advanced encryption and threat detection mechanisms, offers a robust layer of protection that traditional on-premise solutions struggle to match. Not to mention that many cloud offerings enforce the importance of security as data moves through the factory, which simultaneously encrypts data interchange while promoting security hygiene to everyone building automation at the factory.

Resilience in the Cloud

One of the most compelling arguments for cloud adoption is its unparalleled resiliency. Cloud technology operates on-demand, allowing it to address emerging and evolving threats through automatic updates. Unlike traditional on-premise setups, where a physical server's failure could spell disaster, cloud infrastructures are designed to weather such storms. Data protection and system resilience in the cloud are not just about backup; they're about creating an environment where failsafes are as seamless as they are efficient. This resilience extends to cost management as well, where the cloud's economies of scale offer a more attractive proposition compared to the maintenance-heavy on-premise systems.

Security Compliance Made Simple

The ever-changing landscape of regulatory compliance presents a daunting challenge for many manufacturers. Here, the cloud offers an elegant solution through automation. Cloud security isn't just about defending against threats; it's about integrating compliance into the very fabric of application development. This automated regulatory compliance ensures that businesses can stay on the right side of industry standards without constant manual oversight, making compliance a byproduct of doing business rather than an ongoing hurdle. Using cloud offerings helps remain compliant with common security protocols, such as SOC 2, NIST, CMMC, and more.

Lessons from Equifax

The Equifax breach where hackers made off with Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses of 143 million people serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities inherent in on-premise systems. This breach, rooted in an on-premise environment, underscores the fallacy that physical control equates to better security. In contrast, cloud systems are built with security at their core, benefiting from the collective vigilance of some of the world's best cybersecurity minds.

A Nod from the Government

In 2019, the US Federal government rolled out “Cloud Smart, a long-term, high-level strategy to drive cloud adoption in Federal agencies”. It was designed to offer a path forward for agencies to migrate to a safe and secure cloud infrastructure to achieve additional savings, security – yes security, and to deliver faster services. There has been no reverse since then. The CIA and other government agencies have started to move their workloads to the cloud under initiatives like FedRAMP, a clear signal of the cloud's security pedigree. These mandates are not just about modernizing IT infrastructure; they acknowledge the cloud's ability to safeguard sensitive data against evolving threats.

Choosing the Right Cloud Provider 

As the number of compliant options offered by cloud providers continues to grow, it remains crucial to partner with the right application providers to mitigate cybersecurity risks in the cloud. Other key considerations manufacturers should prioritize to fully leverage the cloud’s potential include ensuring high uptime, which refers to the percentage of time that a system is operational and available for use. Maintaining high uptime is crucial for manufacturing operations to minimize disruptions and ensure continuous production. 

Additionally, manufacturers should focus on bridging the gap between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) layers within their organizations. IT systems typically handle administrative and business-related functions, while OT systems control industrial processes and machinery on the factory floor. Integrating these two layers enables seamless data exchange and communication between different parts of the organization, facilitating better decision-making, increased efficiency, and enhanced operational visibility. By prioritizing aspects such as uptime and IT-OT convergence, manufacturers can maximize the benefits of cloud technology and drive innovation in their operations.


The narrative that the cloud is an insecure option for manufacturers is rapidly dissolving. According to Gartner, “Manufacturing operations leaders who are wrestling with how to prepare for disruptions need to revisit their reticence in adopting cloud-native solutions.” With government-grade solutions like AWS GovCloud and Azure Government, the resilience and automated compliance offered by cloud platforms, and lessons learned from high-profile breaches, the case for the cloud is stronger than ever. As the manufacturing sector continues its digital transformation, the cloud stands ready not just as a platform for innovation but as a bastion of security in an increasingly connected world.