From Floppy to Cloud – The Growing Importance of Logistics in the Cloud

by Luisa Walendy
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Did you look at this picture and automatically think about “the good old days”? This may be because the first floppy disk was introduced to the market in 1971, which means it is celebrating its 45th birthday this year. The term “floppy” refers to an older version of the disk which was coated with a flexible cover of thin plastic. Later, this cover was replaced by a rigid plastic case. The floppy disk´s market introduction was a real milestone in the development of media storage and represented a significant technological leap forward compared to its punch card and magnetic strip predecessors. The floppy disk enjoyed 20 years of market dominance before its replacement by the compact disk (CD). The first mass produced CD burner hit the market in 2000. This new market entrant and the affordable integration of flash drives in personal computers eventually led to the demise of the floppy disk as its role in data storage faded into obsolescence.

That being said, there are still some floppy disks in use somewhere out there: for example, the German railroad company, Deutsche Bahn, transfers information about seat reservations via floppy disk in the trains. Furthermore, up until last year, patient data in Norway was sent on a floppy disk per mail to public authorities. I would expect to see even fewer use cases for floppy disks in the future.

Where are we today?

In the era of digitalization and intelligent systems, we are experiencing a major shift away from traditional data storage options toward the cloud. Unlike the hard shell of a floppy disk or the smooth plastic of a CD, the cloud has proven to be a more abstract and difficult to grasp data storage option. While nostalgia and resistance to change has us grasping for more tangible options, we are learning that technological advancements don’t care about indulging in memories.

The business world is experiencing a radical change. Globalization and the associated disruptions require a high degree of flexibility. Additionally, the ability to effectively process big data is proving to be a competitive advantage. It is no secret that storing media on a floppy disk, CD, or local data center has its limits regarding storage capacity. The cloud, in contrast, provides the right amount of flexibility for the current real-time demands faced by companies today. Cloud computing allows for the decentralized storage of data and the implementation of programs not installed on local personal computers or servers. All that is required is a smooth broadband connection. Moreover, contrary to widespread belief, data security in cloud applications can prove to be even more secure than local servers and alternative personal data storage options.

The application in logistics

Once merely associated with fast growing companies in Silicon Valley such as Amazon, Google and Yahoo, the data cloud is quickly expanding into other industries due to the growing importance of big data analytics. The logistics industry is no exception as companies begin to expand their transport management, truck supply control and other logistics systems into the cloud to more effectively manage these complex processes. Today’s logistics systems must be able to react to the quickly changing operating environment, making cloud solutions the logical “next generation” of data storage.

Contrary to bulky disks and local data centers, the cloud is flexible enough to react quickly to unforeseen changes. In addition, it is easily scalable and therefore can be simply expanded to compensate for rapidly increasing process complexity. Cloud computing and data storage also have significant financial advantages: costs for an elaborate and time-consuming IT installation process can be saved and the return on investment is much quicker when implementing a cloud application.

Moreover, cloud computing is part of the so-called Green IT movement, since cloud servers can be operated much more efficiently compared to many local servers. In terms of sustainability, cloud computing addresses energy usage and resource consumption. Large enterprises as well as small businesses can reduce their direct energy consumption by moving certain applications into the cloud.

To summarize, logistics processes can be positively impacted by cloud computing due to its:

  • Scalability
  • Easy installation
  • Quick return- on investment
  • Sustainability

Closing thoughts

While disks bring back memories of a long time ago, they can no longer keep up with the features of cloud data storage. Even in the management of very complex logistics processes, cloud computing is able to provide logistics managers a flexible alternative that improves planning and handling processes. Too little storage space and stumbling logistics processes are finally problems of the past thanks to the powerful features available in the cloud.

Are you using cloud applications for your logistics processes?

 

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This blog was originally posted on the Inventory & Supply Chain Optimization blog.

About the author

  • Luisa Walendy

    Luisa Walendy started working for INFORM in 2015 and is interested in all topics related to manufacturing logistics and production planning.

    More about the author at:

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