Cloud based Simulation platform for Manufacturing and Engineering
Simulation can significantly improve the competitive position of manufacturing and engineering companies by reducing their costs and resulting in more efficient development, production, procurement, logistics or financial processes.
The CloudSME project will develop a cloud-based, one-stop-shop solution providing a scalable platform for small or larger scale simulations, and enable the wider take-up of simulation technologies in manufacturing and engineering SMEs. The CloudSME Simulation Platform will support end user SMEs to utilise customized simulation applications in the form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based provision. Moreover, simulation software service providers and consulting companies will have access to a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution that enables them to quickly assemble custom simulation solutions in the cloud for their clients. The CloudSME Simulation Platform will be built on existing and proven technologies provided by the project partners and partially developed in previous European projects. Building on existing technology will enable the project to deliver its results quickly.
The CloudSME Simulation Platform will dramatically change the way in which manufacturing/engineering SMEs utilise simulation solutions today, and will provide new business opportunities not only to end-user SMEs, but also to simulation software and cloud service providers.
Although simulation solutions are widely used in engineering and manufacturing, SMEs in particular face many hurdles to effectively utilise such advanced tools. To use simulation software, engineering and manufacturing SMEs need to:
- purchase software licenses of the simulation software,
- purchase advanced hardware to run the simulations,
- require system engineering to setup and operate hardware, operating systems and the simulation software,
- require qualified staff to use the simulation software.
The combination of prerequisites as indicated above often makes it much too lengthy and expensive to use the simulation software. Therefore, many SMEs in manufacturing and engineering do not make use of simulations and cannot benefit accordingly. Cloud computing provides a solution here. Clouds are characterized by on-demand self-service, internet access, resource pooling, elastic scalability and pay-per-use accounting. However, pure cloud infrastructure services can only help to address the issue of the hardware capital expenditure, while the other issues still remain. Our cloud solution is based on a one-stop-shop for the simulation software service required to solve all these issues. This way, engineering and manufacturing SMEs can fully focus on their business, instead of spending extended efforts on IT-related aspects. The CloudSME project will develop a cloud-based simulation platform to address this.
Running of simulation applications can be done at different levels. The access to these levels is complementary and targeted at different types of use cases. As requirements of end users vary, there is a portfolio of ways to access the services. Correspondingly, the respective service pillars are outlined below:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides hardware and operating system building blocks such as virtual machines, storage, network, etc., in the cloud. Since simulations need underlying computer infrastructure, they may also consume such services out of the cloud. Moreover, the cloud can provide large amount of computing and data resources on demand that could speed up complex simulation tasks requiring High Performance Computing (HPC) capabilities.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) offers various programming and deployment frameworks in the cloud. Often also additional functionalities required here, such as distribution, messaging, monitoring, databases, workflows, etc., are provided.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) delivers cloud services on the level of applications. This can be applied to any kind of software, but in this case it mainly means the simulation applications.
In the one-stop-shop setup targeted by the CloudSME project, it is premised that end users would just like to run a simulation. They have no need for competency on the related underlying infrastructure and platform services, and would like to be shielded from them, so that they can focus solely on their business tasks. These users typically use a front-end application with a graphical user interface. CloudSME end-users will be using the GUI application, a front-end application or a web service employing SaaS.