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Cloud… NDT… A Good Mix?

A recurring question that comes up is: Are clouds adapted for NDT? What is the best solution for our needs? Well, NDT has its specificity. Techniques and technologies used to achieve operations are diverse; liquid penetrant, ultrasound, magnetic particles, eddy currents, and more. No matter which technologies are used, inspection data will have to be transferred on a company server. Regardless of the process used to transfer data on the server (automated or manual), data will end up on a private server or a cloud solution. From there, a question might be asked: Can a cloud truly simplify file management and is any cloud solution adapted for the NDT? For example: Dropbox may not fulfill, right out of the box, our market? This presentation will highlight different avenues about the three fundamental service models of cloud computing: IaaS (infrastructure as a software), PaaS (platform as a software) and SaaS (software as a service). It will also highlights NDT critical requirements, constraints, and needs. At the end, a recap of different levels of cloud services (component, option, security…) will be defined.

Remember that private and public servers are two possible avenues. NDT was an early user of the private server even before it was called a cloud. Overall, the main idea is to optimize the operation process to reduce OPEX (operation expenses) to increase productivity (up to 12%), availability, traceability, and accuracy of data.

The three principal cloud computing services are the IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

  • IaaS is a virtual hardware pool service for its users. With a virtual server space, a network connection, bandwidth, IP address, and load balancer the user can access the computing infrastructure from anywhere with only an internet connection.

This kind of solution is primarily used by networker architects. IaaS gives them the opportunity to control the operating system (OS) and give them more flexibility to scale it to their needs, without having to invest in a big infrastructure. IaaS is easily scalable and includes automation of administrative task, desktop virtualization, and policy-based services.

Users do not own the server so it might be difficult for the management and monitoring system to trace data, but it gives them data security because they are host by a physical data center. A positive point about the IaaS is that you will not have any single point failure due to its multitude of hardware resources.

IaaS is frequently used for business infrastructure, cloud hosting, or a virtual data centers.

Examples of IaaS:

  • VMware
  • OpenStack
  • Chef
  • Windows Azure

Cost model: Utility style cost mode, license payment

 

  • The PaaS is easier to manage and modify than IaaS, but it is less flexible because users do not have any control on the OS. PaaS allows users to develop application and services over the internet. The expertise of a network developer will not be necessary to develop PaaS but an application developer will be needed.PaaS features include: Operating system, server-side scripting environment, database management system, server software, support, storage, network access, tools for design and development, and hosting.Valuable advantages of PaaS are that the customer does not have to invest in infrastructure. It is easy to manage and develop; even for non-expert developers. Usually, you just have to go through the wanted features. It is flexible and it can be easily adapted. It requires only an internet connection and a browser. People from anywhere can work together on the same application. It also includes data security, backup, and a recovery system.Examples of PaaS:
    • Heroku
    • Windows Azure
    • Cloud Foundry

Cost model: Initial base subscription fee, license payment

  • SaaS is generally used to manage staff or run a CRM (customer relationship management). It works on any enabled devices and there is no license payment. The pricing system is based on subscription.

SaaS is developed for the end user for whom everything is managed by the vendor. The major problem with SaaS, for NDT, is that you must make an agreement with the providers to protect confidential data. Once you are using a SaaS, informatics migration might be complicated. Often businesses have to stay with their supplier.

Examples of SaaS:

  • Workday
  • Office
  • Gmail

Cost model: Subscription fee, no licenses payment

The following explains the differences between these three types of cloud solutions.IaaS is generally used by networker architects, PaaS by an application developer, and SaaS by the end user.

  • With an IaaS, the user will have to manage the application, data, and the OS. The supplier will take care of virtualization, server, storage, and networking.
  • With a PaaS, the OS will be taken in charge by the supplier.
  • With a SaaS, the user will not have to manage anything. The supplier will take charge of all the components. The less control you have on your OS, the less control you have on your data security.

Regardless of which kind of cloud you want to implement IaaS, PaaS, or a SaaS; private and public servers are two possible avenues.

Overall the main idea is to optimize the operation process to reduce OPEX and to increase availability and accuracy of data.

The objective is to help you choose a cloud solution that will help you easily access your data, simplify your file management and, even better, automate it. There are secure solutions to simplify your work and some are compatible with any kind of clouds or private servers.

When you opt for a cloud you should go for a solution that will simplify the work of your team and that will be easy to adapt, access and respect your security engagement. So, in consideration of these criteria, there is not only one good solution; the good solution for you is the one that you will choose. Each company has its own reality. Before choosing or developing a solution that will be your server, you must keenly analyse your needs and, if possible, work with an expert team to help you get the greatest solution. In NDT, we often see companies use Dropbox, box, or Workpad (that can manage your asset, and inspectors, show your data on a map and show you data as in a viewer.

It is important to be conscious of their advantages and limitations. The clouds or private solutions that you will choose will impact your team, their work, and the efficiency of your company and security around the data. This blog should help you to choose a cloud that will facilitate your work.

To select the right solutions, ask you:

  • Private or Public?
  • Iaas, PaaS or Saas?
  • Generic or dedicated to NDT?

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