Technology is the driving force across many industries today and the maritime industry is beginning to embrace the many advantages the utilisation of technology is bringing. Companies are now opening up to the myriad benefits different technologies offer, one such technology is cloud computing. The “cloud”, which was once an almost mysterious concept that was difficult to understand, has proved its mettle. Cloud computing services make operations, communications and collaboration easier for workforce across the planet.
Cloud computing, through which staff could now access operations software on any computer with a web browser, had reached the USD 106 billion mark in 2016. More ship owners and ship charterers are now more willing to use cloud-based systems. The option becomes relevant considering it solves an old IT problem: increasing capacity or adding capabilities in a very short term without requiring expensive infrastructure investments, personnel training, or new software licensing.
An example of this is the United Arab Shipping Co. The company shifted its fuel purchasing process to a cloud-based fuel management system. Back in the day, the company used a manual process for purchasing fuel, which was it’s largest cost item. The new system allowed the shipping firm to capture market prices from a variety of major, but more affordable, sources. It also let UASC create a blueprint for fueling for the entire fleet, monitor vessel performance and improve communications with suppliers.
According to mar – IT – ime consulting, Cloud Computing includes different components which can be used individually or combined between them. This model does not require initial cost to acquire computer resources; instead, computational resources are on a pay per use mode.
- SaaS: Software as a Service also referred to as “on-demand software” is a software delivery model for application through a thin client via a web browser to thousands of customers using a multitenant architecture. Software and associated data are centrally hosted on the cloud.
- Paas: Platform as a Service is a form of cloud computing where a development environment is delivered as a service. Application developers can develop and run their software solutions on a cloud platform without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware and software layers.
- Iaas: Infrastructure as a Service, also referred as utility computing is a provision model in which an organisation outsources the equipment used to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components. The service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running and maintaining it, and charges it as a metered service.
- There are other flavours of Cloud Computing as Web services in the cloud, Network as a Service or Managed Service Providers and the list keeps growing.
The benefits of cloud computing are seen in the ports sector as well. Peter Jackson, Director of Products and Technology at Seaspan, said: “The real benefits for us have been this worldwide accessibility and the ability to work in a single program where we are able to store huge amounts of data.”
Anthony DiMare, CEO and Cofounder of Nautilus Labs stated, “For shipping, 2018 is the year to fully embrace cloud software.” He continues, “Forward-thinking owner-operators are aggressively pursuing cloud-based solutions to collect data for their entire organisation from anywhere, allowing information to be viewed at any time, from any internet-connected device. This means low-to-no capital investment required to get vessel data back to shore. Perhaps more importantly, it means finally having all your fleet data available to you in one place – always. And for businesses that are becoming increasingly distributed around the world, the cloud provides an unparalleled ease of adoption and agility everywhere the business operates.”
While the shipping industry truly begins to embrace all technologies, it will be interesting to see how gains are made and the impact these will create on the sector and community. Needless to state, the sky is the limit!
Sea News Feature, May 4