Cloud computing allows both small and large manufacturers to use new production systems, including 3-D printing, high-performance computing (HPC), the Internet of Things (IoT), and robots, an Information Technology and Innovation Foundation report found.

Cloud computing democratizes access to and use of new technologies by small manufacturers. Cloud-based solutions offer manufacturers scalability; operational efficiency; application and partner integration; data storage, management, and analytics; and enhanced security. Cloud computing also facilitates research, design, and development of new products, which reduces product development costs, and speeds time to market.

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ITIF found that digital services such as cloud computing now account for at least 25 percent of the total inputs that go into finished manufactured products.

“The hollowing out of industry is seen as a significant economic and political problem. Pessimists point to automation and foreign trade as the culprits, and they contend that in coming years robots and artificial intelligence will only exacerbate these employment challenges,” the report said. “On the other hand, U.S. manufacturing output today is 40 percent greater than it was two decades ago. The notion that ‘America doesn’t make anything anymore,’ the optimists argue, is simply false.”

More than 90 percent of global enterprises report using cloud computing in some part of their business, according to ITIF.

Car companies like Ford have used cloud computing to make vehicles as much as 40 percent software and 60 percent hardware. Ford takes it a step further by using the data to figure out how people are using its vehicles and how to easily repair vehicles after accidents.

ITIF said that lawmakers should support cloud computing by creating cloud-neutral technology policies.

“While some concerns have been raised about cloud computing, especially those relating to security and privacy, there is no need to create cloud-specific regulations. For example, cloud computing does not reduce an organization’s responsibility for protecting its data,” the report said.

ITIF also said that Congress should prohibit the National Security Agency from weakening encryption standards.

“The U.S. government should not limit the commercialization of cybersecurity innovations, especially with regard to techniques companies are using to encrypt data stored in the cloud. Doing so would make the average consumer and business less secure and preclude much opportunity for advancement in information security and systems architecture,” the report said.

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Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Federal IT and K-12 Education.