The transition to cloud-based computing in the trucking industry is accelerating as carriers realize the cost savings and operational efficiencies that can be achieved, technology experts said.
That migration to the cloud — which refers to using remote servers hosted on the internet to store and process data — will continue as younger generations who grew up on smartphones and social media move into management ranks, they predicted.
Concerns about data security persist, but moving to a cloud environment actually could reduce that risk, according to some vendors.
Companies that worry about cybersecurity sometimes say they prefer to keep the data they “hold dearest” in on-premises computer systems.
“That’s a bit like saying that stuffing your mattress with cash is safer than putting it in the bank,”. The more sensitive your data, the more you should be putting it on a professionally hosted platform, not on two servers in your server room — that’s precisely what’s most insecure.
Trucking is coming to recognize the virtues of cloud-based computing for a range of reasons, among them being the means to share “the latest and greatest information” via transportation management systems that allow customers to “self-serve” by helping themselves to data such as the status of their shipments.
“They don’t have to call a human being; they can look it up,” that’s “the Amazon effect.” The shopping experience provided by the online retail giant is “probably the best example that people have … of the transparency and real-time information that’s possible through cloud computing,” he said. “Without a single software solution that could manage the different service offerings and product offerings they had, they were forced to manage accounts receivable multiple times for the same customer,”
Cloud computing can be implemented across an entire enterprise or for specific applications.
“For the most part [cloud computing] means you’re asking somebody else to manage the hardware components and infrastructure to run a solution for you,”
Some trucking companies choose to run enterprise-level applications on the cloud while others pick specific functions to move to the cloud, sometimes “as simple as email,”.
To get out of managing, securing and backing up email they could opt to use Office 365, a cloud-based system. A company that operates part of its IT system on its own equipment and part on the cloud is taking what’s called a hybrid approach.
“I see the adoption of cloud environments being easier for smaller companies and more appealing to them because they don’t have the cash flow to afford equipment,”
Trucking companies historically have been slow to adopt newer technologies compared to other markets, several vendors said.
A common practice is to put a client-server application on a server in a rented building and provide a browser address to enable use of the application, Hyatt said.
“Some people would consider that use of the cloud,” he said. “We think of the cloud as a fundamental architectural change to the way you build and deliver applications.”