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Synchronize manufacturing operational data to the AWS Cloud

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Russ Sagert
Russ Sagert

Industrial companies are actively pursuing the strategic advantages of modernizing their operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) to drive business value, but they are limited by fixed storage and compute capacity available on site. Data scientists and process engineering leaders recognize the need to use this operational data to gain insights, optimize processes, and enhance business value. They are looking to adopt advanced analytics technologies such as multidimensional dashboarding and machine learning to gain new insights from their OT data. In this blog post, we highlight how NetApp and Inductive Automation collaborate to offer solutions that open up OT+IT data into the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud and solve industrial challenges.

Use cases for NetApp with Inductive Automation on AWS Cloud

Inductive Automation’s Ignition data historian is used in many forms of industrial manufacturing and process management spanning many industries: automotive, agriculture, food and beverage, energy, waste management, and more. These customers are constantly looking for new technologies and ideas to improve their productivity, efficiency, and profitability.

An important emerging trend is to connect the on-premises operational environment to the cloud, or to move to the cloud completely. Users of Ignition, depending on their level of digital and process maturity, can benefit from the solution by converging OT and IT data into AWS Cloud (with the integration of Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP, as shown in the following figure). This is especially true for stakeholders like plant general managers, production operation managers, and those responsible for plant efficiency, product quality, supply chain optimization, and vendor management.

operational data in the cloud OT flow chart

Historically, plant operations have been siloed within the plant, making it difficult to share data and insights with other parts of the organization, such as ERP, MES, and financial systems. One of the biggest pain points for plant operations is the siloed or air-gapped nature of operational data, which makes it difficult for vendors responsible for maintenance or production optimization to access the data they need. Communication delays can also impact the resolution of production disruptions. A lack of connected systems (OT/IT convergence) can also lead to delays or lack of visibility across the supply chain, resulting in unexpected disruptions or delayed actions. The following figure shows the three types of use cases that are addressed by the combined solution of NetApp® ONTAP® + Ignition + AWS.

different stages of cloud including cloud service, cloud cloning and cloud snapmirror

OT+IT data stream to the cloud using Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP

The combination of data fabric data services from NetApp and Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP can help make supply chain communications timelier and more efficient. The combination provides synchronization services from site-level Ignition databases to the AWS Cloud. FSx for ONTAP enables secure collaboration with key vendors and partners, minimizing unplanned downtime and reducing time to problem resolution.

By sharing operational data through FSx for ONTAP, you can establish enterprise best practices for asset maintenance, intelligent supply chain, and worker efficiency and safety. Additionally, the solution enables you to easily scale up or down the volumes of operational data you are sharing, as needed. This flexibility helps you to adapt to changing business conditions and to optimize your operations to meet your specific needs. This replicated copy can facilitate active knowledge sharing across your organization and more effective collaboration with your partners, vendors, and customers, which can result in improved operations and increased revenue. Running Ignition in AWS using FSx for ONTAP enables you to reduce on-premises infrastructure as well as overall TCO.

Replication of plant data in the cloud

NetApp ONTAP data management software enables you to create a writable copy of a volume, known as a volume clone. A clone is a point-in-time, writable copy of the parent volume. Changes made to the parent volume after the clone is created are not reflected in the clone. The NetApp DataFabric Manager server helps you manage clone hierarchies by making it easier to view clone relationships between volumes. By using Operations Manager, you can view clone volume and the parent volume information.

NetApp replication to the cloud creates a copy of Ignition in the cloud to allow scenarios like sharing insight knowledge with vendors, test development and QA scenarios, performing site-to-site comparisons, and addressing supply chain optimization. You get faster time to insights and reduced time to problem resolution. You can create or delete copies of Ignition environment at will with zero cost impact.

Disaster recovery using SnapMirror

NetApp SnapMirror® is a feature of NetApp ONTAP that offers integrated remote backup/recovery and disaster recovery with incremental asynchronous data replication using cloud storage resources. With SnapMirror, you can replicate Ignition data from specified source volumes to specified destination volumes, which helps you address disaster recovery and adhere to your SLAs. You can also perform testing of Ignition before migration. SnapMirror allows you to make roll forward/roll backward Snapshot copies. Because the updates are incremental and not full image updates, you get faster time to recovery and reduced nonproductive time.

Russ Sagert

Russ Sagert is the NetApp Business Development Director for Energy and Manufacturing. Russ specializes in developing and bringing digital transformation solutions for industrial manufacturing plant operators to market. He cultivates strategic partnerships to bring to market value-added solutions that enable organizations to improve operational efficiency, drive down costs, maximize top-line revenue, and improve product quality and site safety. As a result, organizations can justify and prioritize deploying technology where it makes the greatest difference.

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