Carlson: cloud is the new normal

Carlson: cloud is the new normal

Cloud ‘key to driving industrial IoT’

The IIoT is revolutionising the manufacturing sector across the world and cloud computing is driving this new trend, says Teresa Carlson, VP and head of Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, in an interview with SREE BHAT

May 2017

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is changing manufacturing as we know it by delivering real-time conditions on the factory floor, making it possible to not only optimise production and eliminate waste but uncover new business opportunities.

It is also helping in the ongoing maintenance and future design of the products factories are producing, says Teresa Carlson, vice president and head of Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services (AWS), in an interview with Gulf Industry magazine.

AWS, one of the largest companies providing cloud services, is helping organisations to transform how they do business with IIoT.

The ubiquitous availability of bandwidth and having computational capacity and near infinite amounts of storage, at our fingertips through the cloud has been key to driving this new trend in technology, says Carlson, who was in Bahrain recently.

“One of the biggest changes we have seen over the past few years is that cloud has moved from being something organisations were evaluating to really becoming the new normal. Every company in the world has to keep transforming the customer experience and their business to remain competitive. While having a lower cost structure is an enabler for transformation, it’s typically not the main driver.  The main drivers are agility and innovation, and cloud enables these in a very significant way,” Carlson said.

“We want our technology to help entrepreneurs to work, to experiment and grow their businesses. We fundamentally believe that technology is an enabler and a great equaliser for businesses around the world,” she said.

AWS has millions of customers around the world, in more than 190 countries.


Excerpts from the interview:

What are the key services provided by you in the region and how have they  been received by companies?

All AWS technologies are available to customers in the Middle East. This has led customers in the region to be amongst the first to adopt cloud services when we launched AWS in 2006. Since then we have seen customers go from using our foundational services like storage (Amazon S3), compute (Amazon EC2), and database (Amazon RDS) through to using higher level and advanced services such as our suite of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.

All AWS technologies have been well received by customers in the region. As a result AWS now counts some of the Middle East’s most well-known and fastest growing businesses as customers. There are also thousands of SMEs and startups using AWS services.

It isn’t just technology that AWS provides to organizations in Bahrain and the Middle East, we also provide training and education to give citizens in the region the 21st Century skills they need to be successful.


Tell us your view on cloud computing and why it makes sense for companies and government organisations to invest in cloud? How will it help them in the current business environment?

The cloud gives organisations access to storage, compute, database and many other technologies on a pay-as-you-go basis, from anywhere in the world. Anyone with some basic knowledge of IT, an idea, and a credit card can get access to near infinite amounts of compute and storage on demand. This is allowing startups to launch their businesses globally and enterprise businesses and public sector organisations to lower the cost of experimentation, enabling them to innovate more often.

The benefits of cloud can be summarised with five characteristics: No capital expenditure, pay only for what you use, elastic capacity, speed and agility of deployment, and the ability to focus on your core competence. These benefits are the reason well-known Middle Eastern companies such as Careem, flydubai, Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), Souq.com, and many others choose to run their infrastructure on AWS as well as well-known global companies such as Coca Cola, Netflix, Unilever, and Shell.


With digitisation becoming a major thrust area for the manufacturing sector, how can AWS help?

One of the recent trends that has come into the manufacturing sector, where AWS is helping organisations to transform how they do business, is what people are calling the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The ubiquitous availability of bandwidth and having computational capacity and near infinite amounts of storage, at our fingertips through the cloud has been key to driving this new trend in technology.

The IIoT is changing manufacturing as we know it by delivering real-time conditions on the factory floor making it possible to not only optimise production and eliminate waste but uncover new business opportunities.

Tata Motors, one of the largest manufacturers of commercial vehicles is a good example. Tata Motors is putting sensors into its trucks and has built a service model, which is allowing owners of large fleets of trucks better insight into how the vehicles are running, how they are being used and to predict and prevent potential breakdowns.

The sensors in the trucks can be used to monitor driver behaviour.

In other cases we are seeing appliance manufacturers adding sensors to the machines that manufacture their white goods such as fridges, washing machines, and dryers. This is helping to spot flaws in the manufacturing process sooner and is also allowing manufacturers to better understand where they can make efficiencies and cost savings in their processes.


Following the oil price decline, cost reduction is a key issue for companies in this sector. Can AWS solutions make a difference?

AWS has a long history of working with oil and gas companies to help them take advantage of cloud technologies to quickly innovate, lower costs, and more efficiently discover and refine oil. Customers such as BP, Hess, Shell, and many others are using AWS both for their upstream and downstream businesses. One good example is how oil and gas companies are using AWS for high performance computing to run tasks such as simulations on oil reservoirs to understand the potential yield of an oil field. By using AWS they can spin up a supercomputer on demand, run it for a few hours and then shut it down when they are finished. With this pay-as-you-go model, oil and gas companies can make significant cost savings, sometimes many millions of dollars.


SMEs are a major part of our economies and they are lagging in IT investments. How is AWS geared to address this? 

What we’ve seen in the past few years is a democratisation of IT. With AWS SME customers can get access to the same kinds of technologies that were previously only available to the world’s largest companies. This has levelled the playing field as smaller companies in the Middle East gain the resources to compete in ways that were very expensive and often cost prohibitive in the past. AWS also makes it possible for smaller companies to grow and quickly become household names, serving millions of customers around the world. A good example of an organization in the Middle East using AWS to achieve this is Careem. Launched in 2012, Careem runs totally on AWS and over the past three years has grown by 10x in size every year thanks to the scalability of the cloud.

As well as offering low-cost infrastructure services, another of the ways AWS is supporting SMEs is through helping them gain the skills they need to be successful with technology. AWS offers Training and Certification programs to help customers develop skills to design, deploy, and operate their infrastructure and applications on the AWS Cloud. Whether they are just getting started or looking to deepen their technical expertise, AWS has a variety of resources to meet their needs.

Customers can also explore more advanced technical training where they can learn to design, develop, and operate their infrastructure and applications on AWS, deepen technical skills and learn best practices from qualified AWS instructors. Customers looking to validate their technical skills with AWS can also get AWS Certified. This allows customers to gain recognition for their AWS expertise through Associate and Professional- level certifications that demonstrate they possess the skills and technical knowledge necessary for designing, deploying, and operating applications and infrastructure on AWS.


Security is a key issue that worries companies when investing in ‘cloud’. What is your take on this?

Security is our number one priority at AWS and we understand it is also a top priority for our customers. When customers take the time to understand the lengths AWS goes to when it comes to security, data privacy, and compliance they are pleasantly surprised.

AWS has always made the security, privacy, and protection of customers our number one priority.  We have consistently achieved robust security standards, such as ISO 27001, ISO 27018, SOC 1, 2, 3, and PCI DSS Level 1, and will continue to do so.


What are the big changes you see in the next few years in terms of IT environment in organisations?

In the old world, when you asked engineering teams how long it might take them to get a server to try and experiment, you get answers like 10-18 weeks. In this new world, not only can a company spin up thousands of servers in minutes and pay only for what they use, but they have access to a very robust, full-featured technology offering that lets them go from idea to launch in record time.

This totally changes an organisation, impacting the amount of cycles employees spend thinking about innovation because they know, if they have an idea, they have a chance to see if it works.  So it totally changes how you think about innovation, and it expands the group of people inside an organization that are thinking about new ideas. As we move to the future, and more organizations adopt the cloud, I think we will see IT changing to focus more on rapid experimentation in order to more quickly innovate for customers and citizens around the world.

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