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SmartFactory Private Cloud – Part 1: Roadmap to Deployment

Framework makes it easier to plan and implement APF solutions in the cloud


Madhav Kidambi, Technology Director, discusses a new roadmap our SmartFactory Productivity team developed to make it easier for our customers to plan and implement Applied’s APF solutions in a cloud environment.

Our Insights blogger, Cindy McVey, sat down with Madhav Kidambi to find out what motivated the team to create the new cloud offerings roadmap and how it will benefit customers as they decide how to deploy applications. They also discussed the release of Real-Time Dispatching (RTD) Private Cloud, the first SmartFactory Productivity offering on the map.
Insights: How did you go about developing the roadmap for APF cloud offerings?

Madhav: We know the term cloud offering can be interpreted in different ways, so we knew we first had to define what it means in different contexts, ranging from whether an application is cloud-enabled to operating solely in a managed cloud environment.

Based on those definitions, a roadmap then was created for migrating current on-premise offerings to cloud-based offerings. The roadmap, or framework, we developed (see figure 1) defines which applications will be deployed and hosted on a cloud to achieve these objectives. It also addresses the concerns around performance and security for data and applications.

Figure 1: Roadmap demonstrating implementation of applications on premises and in cloud environments
Insights: How does the roadmap help customers plan or manage their applications?

Madhav: Our customers use the roadmap to identify and plan which applications can be hosted in their own data centers, versus which they will host in a cloud service provider’s environment or that provided by SmartFactory (level 4).

Insights: Do you expect every customer to have solutions on all four levels on the roadmap?

Madhav: No, this is a very customized approach in which the customer chooses to host or deploy the solutions at different levels based on their unique performance and data requirements. Typically, the mission critical applications run in level 1 or level 2, as will those essential to protecting intellectual property. These are hosted by the client and may be as much as a particular client needs or wants to deploy at any time.

The applications which are not mission-critical or do not have real-time decision-making requirements run in level 3 or 4 depending on the data security requirements. At level 3, the company utilizes a virtual private cloud where they have a dedicated account. At level four, we provide cloud services for a set of APF solutions, as well as other products and solutions the customer chooses to run at this level. Again, the roadmap is there to help guide the decision as to which solutions they may want to deploy in which type of cloud environment.

Insights: The first SmartFactory Productivity offering released since creating the roadmap is Real-Time Dispatching (RTD) Private Cloud. Why did you start with this one?

Madhav: RTD is the mission critical application, which currently has 90% market share in 300 mm fabs and is the foundation platform key to the rest of the products and solutions in our factory productivity portfolio. It made the most sense then, for it to be the first SmartFactory Productivity offering on the cloud using container-based architecture for mission critical applications. There are also specific pain points around RTD that Private Cloud can address.

For example, on-premise systems present many infrastructure issues for customers including that it can be difficult to apply operating system level and application patches. Upgrading also can be a challenge.

Cost also can be a real pain point. There are high infrastructure costs surrounding RTD because of the number of servers needed to support these systems. It can be hard to justify the significant capital expenditure to purchase new hardware specifically for RTD. This is particularly the case because centralized IT departments want to utilize data centers with shared resources because they are easier to maintain and secure and can be more easily standardized on hardware models.

Additionally, if a RTD is sized inefficiently, there is excessive cost involved as the manufacturer pays for what they don’t use all the time just to make sure they have it available some of the time.

Insights: And how does RTD help solve or prevent these pain points?
Madhav: RTD private cloud offers many advantages. Among these, it reduces the expensive on-premise installations and capital expenditures of the servers needed for such a system. Because it is hosted and deployed in customers’ existing data centers, it provides on-demand availability of computer resources and allows for faster innovation. This allows the manufacturer to:
  • Optimize hardware usage
    • EOL of physical hardware
    • A cloud cluster can be made up of less expensive, more commodity hardware
    • Using APF Cloud with a larger number of APF applications can reduce the dependency on specialized expensive hardware
  • Lower the cost of ownership of maintaining the application
  • Leverage large scale parallel computing to make better decisions
Insights: What are some of the more exciting application benefits of RTD private cloud, beyond resolving the pain points?

Madhav: Because it is Kubernetes based, overall management of the applications is easier. This containerized system allows users to react more flexibly to changing demands and easily move applications between Kubernetes nodes. Managed via the load balanced gateway, applications can be isolated before being transitioned to a new node. There also is an easier horizontal scaling of both dispatching capacity and the ability to provision additional capacity simply by cloning existing production node application. And, the Kubernetes system allows for rapid expansion and contraction of resources with no downtime of RTD during platform changes.

Adding or removing hardware can also be seamlessly handled by Kubernetes—deploying a new instance of a machine has never been so easy!

I think customers will also appreciate that they are still in control; they can choose whether rolling out one or more production node applications will be completely automated or managed via the cloud portal.

Some additional benefits that help manage APF installations efficiently include:

  • OS patches handled via Applied container images, or can be manually managed via multi-stage container builds
  • Customers will be able to track stable builds (v9.0, v9.8 or v 9.8.0) to adjust to their level of risk
  • Additional 3rd party packages can be handled via multistage build and upgrade on demand
  • Small incremental changes will become the norm, with the ability at any point to roll back seamlessly.


Our SmartFactory Productivity team’s roadmap helps you choose and implement APF applications in a cloud environment. The first offering released after development of this roadmap is a containerized and Kubernetes based RTD product running in a private cloud computing environment in which all hardware and software resources are owned and managed by the customer. This enables developers to bring software maintenance and upgrades in-house to more easily stay up to date; allows for quick deployment and replication of systems to support expansion and meet ramp needs and reduces the overall support burden.

About the Author

Picture of Madhav Kidambi and Cindy McVey
Madhav Kidambi and Cindy McVey
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