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Condition Monitoring and the Cloud

David Procter | Systems Development Manager, Sensoteq

‘The Cloud’ refers to software, services and data that are stored on the internet.  However, this data is not just stored in a random location; it will be located on a group of computers operated by a service provider. Typically it will be Microsoft, Amazon, or Google, but other providers are available.  These companies have vast arrays of computer servers located in Data Centres around the world, and your data will be kept in one or more of these data centres – and generally restricted to one region (for example, the US or EU) upon request.

Cloud technology can provide a huge amount of benefit when used and implemented correctly. It can greatly reduce the risk of data loss because of how cloud providers offer managed services to handle backups and failovers systems.

For a condition monitoring platform using the cloud, it is essential that sensor data reaches the cloud using a secure method. Gateways, or base stations, that send vital condition monitoring data to the cloud do so using secure network protocols and encryption. Data sent using SSH, IPsec, PGP or TLS/SSL with encryptions such as AES, 3DES or RSA are industry standard. This makes the connection very robust helping to keep your data safe on the internet. Once the data reaches the cloud, it is good practice to further encrypt the data whilst being held in the database (encrypted at rest) using the same or similar methods highlighted above.

Using an internet connection and browser, an authorised user will have access to the data from anywhere in the world. User login credentials require a token (access to the encrypted data at rest) to safely and securely view valuable condition monitoring data.

Other technologies, such as machine learning, can also utilise the superior computing power that comes from the cloud, giving automated intelligence to any machine that is monitored.

Some scenarios will not be suitable for cloud computing, such as sites that do not have an internet connection, or require an offline system.  However, many typical systems can benefit from adopting a cloud-based condition monitoring platform and strategy.

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