Are you a little unclear when it comes to understanding cloud computing? Partly cloudy on the cloud? You're not alone. A Google search of "What is Cloud Computing?" returned 245 million results. People want to know about the cloud.
Cloud computing — or the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server — has been gaining serious momentum in the last year in many data-driven industries. And agriculture is taking notice.
In the federal sector, the USDA was the first cabinet-level agency to move its e-mail and productivity applications to the cloud. The U.S. National Resource Conservation Service has taken the help of cloud-computing tools to enable 12,500 of its planners who go out into the fields to interact with farmers. Ag retailers are using cloud computing as part of the precision ag services they offer grower-customers.
"There is a hard push for wireless data transfer, mobile Web apps and cloud computing, which are all very rapidly becoming mainstream," says Glen Franzluebbers, ag technology director at Central Valley Ag, a cooperative based in Nebraska.
Filling the demand for cloud computing in agriculture are companies like AgIntegrated, Hemisphere GPS and XS, Inc. Onsite, AgIntegrated's newly launched cloud-based offering promises to make data movement and exchange between equipment and individuals significantly less stressful and more streamlined than the current state of affairs.
“It really solves a significant issue that consultants and retailers are struggling with right now,” says Mike Santostefano, director of marketing and business development at AgIntegrated. “They need the variety of systems and software they are using, but they are simply not connected. Onsite provides this service.”
After acquiring AgJunction from GVM in February, Hemisphere GPS has since integrated the cloud-based system with John Deere's AgLogic fleet logistics management solution. Through this platform, agricultural service providers can experience seamless two-way transfer of data and in-field work order management.
XS Inc. recently built a private cloud infrastructure on Dell to help agricultural clients improve business processes and decision making through data management and analysis. The Dell infrastructure is critical to supporting XS, Inc.’s big data applications due to its flexibility and reliability.
“As population increases and farm land remains limited, efficiency on the field and in the data center is imperative,” says Darren Patterson, vice president of technology at XS, Inc. “When you factor in a drought, it’s even more important to make the most of your resources.”
As cloud computing in agriculture continues to increase, so too will the number of questions about it. To answer the most frequently asked questions, I've identified the top five things you need to know before entering the cloud, according to IT experts:
1. Private or public? If you're considering adopting cloud computing, one of the first questions experts say you need to answer is private or public?
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