Manufacturing companies have a notorious need to store large files and provide access from multiple offices, all on a restricted budget. In a world where manufacturing production is king, capital expenses are laser-focused on tools and equipment, leaving IT to strategically minimize capital investment while delivering enterprise-class IT operations. And, as with all enterprise organizations, data is the nucleus of the business — everything from CAD files to sales orders is critical to core business operations. Combine that with the average manufacturing firm having multiple offices and teams spread across numerous countries (or continents) and you have a real data storage conundrum. How is a manufacturing company supposed to cost-effectively store and protect large amounts of data while also making it available where and when it needs to be?

The cloud has emerged as a tool for data storage that provides the cost-effective and scalable data storage that manufacturing companies need. However, security and performance concerns often prevent organizations from widely adopting this powerful technology. In addition, cloud storage is not optimized for storing primary data that needs to be accessed and shared frequently. The cloud is more commonly used for archive or backup data due to low performance and accessibility challenges.

However, there is a solution for manufacturing firms to realize the scalability and efficiency benefits of cloud storage without sacrificing security or control. Storage Infrastructure as a Service (SIaaS) is an emerging model to use cloud storage as a component to deliver a consolidated, uniform and feature-rich data storage solution. SIaaS combines the local-performance of an on-premises storage controller with the flexibility of cloud storage. The aim is to seamlessly integrate SIaaS into any IT environment. To protect data stored in the service, it is secured with military-grade encryption while in transit and at rest — preventing any unauthorized user for accessing data. One unique advantage of SIaaS versus cloud storage includes the ability to store active data and access it from any location with the same performance level of traditional storage systems. Leveraging SIaaS, organizations are able to streamline and reduce costs, maximize the value of IT resources, improve end-user productivity and maintain business agility. 

Manufacturing organizations find SIaaS valuable and effective for deploying uniform storage across all locations. Additionally, SIaaS comes with the distinct benefit of being a single solution, delivering all the functionality required to store, protect, manage and share enterprise data.

Inteva Products, a multi-billion dollar global automotive supplier headquartered in Troy Michigan, uses SIaaS as the primary storage solution in its manufacturing plants, engineering, finance, sales and marketing offices. With offices spread across 18 countries on four continents, the standardization of infrastructure, while maintaining low capital investment, is critical to maintaining an efficient IT organization. In fact, Inteva keeps IT strategic investment below one percent of revenue. Furthermore, the distribution of design and manufacturing teams across multiple offices makes the availability of data in multiple locations a critical requirement for a data storage and access solution. And, as with all companies, data is extremely valuable to the organization and security is a key concern. 

Inteva implemented Storage Infrastructure as a Service to address all of their data storage challenges. As an organization that has grown through acquisition, they have dozens of offices with disparate IT infrastructure requiring replacement on different cycles. With SIaaS, the storage infrastructure is consolidated and uniform across all locations, minimizing the IT resources required in each office. Data is secured with customer-managed encryption key providing maximum control and data security as soon as the data leaves the Inteva network. Before SIaaS was introduced, engineering teams in Germany and India requiring access to the same CAD files wasted hours transferring files. With SIaaS, the teams can now access centrally stored files without wasting time waiting for files to download. This new process dramatically improves overall productivity. In addition to storing CAD data, sales and marketing data is made available instantly to executives and field teams on mobile devices, securely presented using a mobile client. At Inteva, SIaaS has transformed the data storage and access infrastructure, impacted the overall business by streamlining IT and delivered a uniform end-user experience, providing efficient sharing and distribution of data, with no sacrifice to security or reduction in data protection.  

As manufacturing organizations continue to explore the benefits of cloud storage to meet diverse requirements on a limited budget, Storage Infrastructure as a Service is a viable option for organizations requiring uniform, secure data storage. The benefit of consuming data storage as an operating expense will appeal to manufacturing organizations looking to streamline operations and reduce capital expenditures. Storage Infrastructure as a Service delivers the best of two different solutions, the scalability and flexibility of cloud storage with the uniform security and control of traditional on-premises solutions.


Andres Rodriguez is CEO of Nasuni