Guest Column | October 11, 2021

Manufacturers March On As The Unexpected Leaders In IT Modernization

By Anand Akela, Nutanix


Manufacturing is often perceived as conveyor belts gliding down production assembly lines and heavy lifting from workers behind big machinery. However, as the industry undergoes a digital transformation, this view is outdated – and IT plays a pivotal role in the modernization efforts of these operations.

The drive for IT modernization isn’t fueled by the manufacturing workforce adapting to remote or hybrid working environments, as we’ve seen with other industries. Cutting costs isn’t the major motivator, either. Rather, the industry is reexamining its IT models as a result of how the pandemic and its cascading effects are influencing our world at large. According to Nutanix’s Third Annual Enterprise Cloud Index, three-fourths (75%) of manufacturing respondents claim COVID-19 has caused IT to be viewed more strategically in their organizations, and also sharply increased their cloud investments.

The Pandemic Forces A Push For Hybrid Cloud Acceleration

In the wake of COVID-19, leaders in the manufacturing industry who have already been looking for ways on how to improve productivity have now been tasked with reconsidering standard business procedures, particularly how they align with protecting employees through social distancing practices while still maintaining quality output.

Manufacturers believe hybrid cloud will help with this transition, as the Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) found that they’re adopting the model to better meet business requirements (62%), gain greater control of IT resource usage (60%), and increase speed to deliver on business needs (53%). Industry 4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is underway, and the transition to adopting hybrid cloud offerings will automate current backend operations, freeing up resources to invest in other modern smart technology.

The ECI reveals a significant majority of manufacturing IT professionals (87%) believe a hybrid cloud infrastructure is the best IT operating model for the business, and more manufacturers are running hybrid cloud than any other industry today, with about 18% penetration. Additionally, manufacturers reported plans to more than double their hybrid usage within three years and grow their deployments to about 52% penetration within five years. This leap toward modernization will reshape traditional manufacturing practices and accelerate smart manufacturing transformation across the industry, but the journey to get there will require a concentrated effort from industry IT leaders.

Digital Acceleration Faces A Long Journey Ahead

Despite the stringent push for a transition to hybrid cloud, the manufacturing industry still has a ways to go before that becomes a reality. Currently, 15% of global manufacturers still run exclusively traditional, non-cloud-enabled datacenters.

Manufacturing’s digital transformation won’t be complete until the industry adjusts its current logistics, supply chain, and production methods, including how products are designed, raw materials are procured, assembled, and delivered to consumers. Hybrid cloud offers features that can impact all operations, from planning to the supply chain and to develop new service business models. The opportunity to introduce automated processes, and other technologies such as IoT devices, can reduce costs and increase production yield, allowing workers to focus on efficiency and quality rather than output. The digital architecture behind smart manufacturing isn’t quite there yet, as most organizations are just utilizing digital production tools. To make this transition a reality, manufacturers expect to all but eliminate legacy datacenter installations as they grow their hybrid cloud developments by more than 30% within the next five years.

As manufacturing continues striving to realize the full potential of Industry 4.0, IT modernization will open up time, resources, and energy for upgrading manufacturing’s physical tools while bringing them closer to the customer – and hybrid cloud represents the digital engine powering this progress.

About The Author

Anand Akela is the VP of Product and Solutions Marketing at Nutanix.