Manufacturing and the Cloud-First WAN: Three Reasons Why the Time to Invest is Now!
How many moving parts do you think have to come together to put that shiny new iPhone in your palm? To give you a rough estimate — components from more than 200 suppliers cross multiple borders to reach the assembly line before the device is finally forged and supplied to your nearest stores.
From China’s Inner Mongolia to the Swiss alps, stakeholders from different corners of the world work together to manufacture these beautiful gadgets that you can’t help but savor each and every time you lay eyes on them.
That stands true for the entire manufacturing industry — a cacophony of collaboration and technology. From product conceptualization in board rooms to its mass production in remote plants, the success of the entire product lifecycle rides on effective bi-directional communication between the shop floor and the top floor.
That’s precisely why the manufacturing industry has always had an appetite for technology that can help them with sustainable economic expansion, increase operational efficiency, and shorten production timelines.
COVID-19: Crisis or Catalyst?
The ongoing pandemic has the manufacturers put the pedal to the metal on their smart manufacturing initiatives. According to a recent McKinsey Global Survey of executives, most companies have accelerated the digitization of their supply-chain interactions and their internal operations by almost four years.
Though most capital-driven business decisions are undergoing heavy scrutiny in these testing times, 62% of leaders surveyed are continuing their investments in smart factories, allocating 20% more to those initiatives than last year. Even the sectors that were historically averse to charting the cloud course are compounding their cloud adoption and investment in a tech-savvy workforce.
But in order to succeed, those cloud initiatives need to ride on a network that’s built upon the same principles as the cloud service providers. A network that provides the same level of elasticity & flexibility and is crafted with the same fabric as the cloud services. A Cloud-First WAN for a Cloud-First world. The cheese to your toast.
The Age of Uncertainty
Over the years, a big chunk of the global supply chain has been concentrated out of China, but as the pandemic grew severe, manufacturers had to partially / fully relocate to neighboring regions, including Vietnam, India, Taiwan, and Korea. The direct impact on the business? They had to uproot their established supply chain machinery from China and get into an uphill battle for setting up offices in lesser-known territories overnight to ensure business continuity.
All that in a matter of months.
In a recent McKinsey survey of manufacturers in Asia, for example, 45% of the respondents agreed to have been struggling with sudden materials shortages, along with steep drops in demand (41 percent), and worker unavailability (30 percent).
Manufacturers also woke up to the importance of diversifying their dependency on sources that are perceived as risky, and focus more on either casting a wider net or nearshoring production facilities. All in all, to weather the current disruption and survive the upcoming uncertain months, the manufacturing sector is bound to lean more and more on technology.
The Backup Has arrived…But Wait.
What’s common between IoT, big data, advanced robotics, AI, cloud computing and a flurry of other technologies that are expected to rescue the manufacturing industry?
They generate Data. Petabytes of it!
For manufacturers, the opportunities to put this heap of data to work for their bottom line are immense. To do this, the data needs to securely reach from one point to another, quickly and reliably.
This is where a fully managed Cloud-First WAN comes in. One that not only delivers your data as and when required, but does so intelligently and with resilience. If you’re still sitting on the fence about it, allow me to pin down the top three reasons why the manufacturing industry is on the cusp of a network revolution.
1. The infrastructure is more fragmented than ever
As we discussed earlier, the global supply chain is undergoing tectonic shifts. Couple that with the intercontinental trade war and other financial barriers, and it’s hard to predict where the next stop is going to be.
The bottom line for would-be network architects then will be to weave a network connectivity medium that lets them extend enterprise grade connectivity to the remotest of locations and bring up branch offices at the click of a button over shorter notice periods. So that tomorrow, if your China office moves to Japan, you’re not left stranded contemplating where to begin.
2. Cloud to the rescue…but are you cloud-ready?
From asset tracking applications that keeps a tab on supplies, to real-time collaboration and data analysis tools, the manufacturing industry is piggybacking on multiple cloud-based applications. The biggest incentive being that the onus of managing scalability lies on the cloud providers. Especially today, as these companies are exploring new avenues where sites and applications need to be turned on and off immediately.
But there is a caveat. Cloud based application can be notoriously sensitive to latency, which is profound in remote locations and more so over legacy networks. This is where a Cloud-First WAN, built upon cloud-first principles takes the lead. It facilitates an architecture that is tied together via. a multi-cloud services fabric, which unlike traditional networks can be scaled up and down just like SaaS services.
3. Reboot with improved security
The unprecedented pandemic might have brought manufacturing and other sectors to a grinding halt but not the cyber pirates. COVID-19 witnessed businesses racing to hold the fort and facilitate a remote work infrastructure. While doing so, speed took priority over security for many, leaving them vulnerable to attacks.
For many, cyber threats are the prime reason that’s holding them back from investing in digital technologies. SD-WAN with its security portfolio and the recent convergence towards SASE can provide a full network security stack for these companies to thrive and expand fearlessly, while preserving choice as to where to deploy, the edge and/or cloud, and with what security vendors to partner.
Coming From Ground Zero
We spoke at length with Teradyne, a leader in test and automation solutions, as they were working out the changing workplace dynamics. Upon being asked how their networking priorities have changed while braving through the pandemic, here is what they had to say:
• Remote work culture
Enterprises need to be better equipped to support the remote work culture. As in case of Teradyne, they had to divert more bandwidth to their VPN locations overnight to support the workforce trying to connect from home. Optimizing connectivity to the corporate network was a quick follow-up priority, given the variability in ISP performance globally.
• Changing traffic patterns
Traffic patterns are changing from site-to-site to user-to-site and user-to-cloud applications. This implies that the network should be smart enough to recognize the mission-critical traffic and optimize it.
• Hybrid security for a hybrid workforce
The traditional ways of providing network security are changing. As the user onboards from access points distributed across the globe and not just limited to sites and HQ, network security needs to keep up with that pattern.
Peace of Mind
Probably the number one reason for investing into a fully managed Cloud-First WAN. With so much on their plate, and a chaotic post COVID world order in which they must survive, the manufacturing industry can have one less thing to worry about.
If you want to know more about the feats Aryaka can help the manufacturing sector achieve, check our webinar.
Also, hear from a leading global manufacturer of sporting goods about how they enabled a hybrid workplace and regained productivity with Aryaka SmartSecure Private Access.
Another network transformation story from a $4B U.S. manufacturer can be found here.
Contemplating if the move will yield enough ROI? Read more to find out.
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