Cloud Computing In Agriculture: 5 Key Questions You Must Answer

Are you a little unclear when it comes to understanding cloud computing? Partly cloudy on the cloud? You’re not alone. A Google search of “What is Cloud Computing?” returned 245 million results. People want to know about the cloud.

Cloud computing — or the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server — has been gaining serious momentum in the last year in many data-driven industries. And agriculture is taking notice.

In the federal sector, the USDA was the first cabinet-level agency to move its e-mail and productivity applications to the cloud. The U.S. National Resource Conservation Service has taken the help of cloud-computing tools to enable 12,500 of its planners who go out into the fields to interact with farmers. Ag retailers are using cloud computing as part of the precision ag services they offer grower-customers.

“There is a hard push for wireless data transfer, mobile Web apps and cloud computing, which are all very rapidly becoming mainstream,” says Glen Franzluebbers, ag technology director at Central Valley Ag, a cooperative based in Nebraska.

Filling the demand for cloud computing in agriculture are companies like AgIntegrated, Hemisphere GPS and XS, Inc. Onsite, AgIntegrated’s newly launched cloud-based offering promises to make data movement and exchange between equipment and individuals significantly less stressful and more streamlined than the current state of affairs.

“It really solves a significant issue that consultants and retailers are struggling with right now,” says Mike Santostefano, director of marketing and business development at AgIntegrated. “They need the variety of systems and software they are using, but they are simply not connected. Onsite provides this service.”

After acquiring AgJunction from GVM in February, Hemisphere GPS has since integrated the cloud-based system with John Deere’s AgLogic fleet logistics management solution. Through this platform, agricultural service providers can experience seamless two-way transfer of data and in-field work order management.

XS Inc. recently built a private cloud infrastructure on Dell to help agricultural clients improve business processes and decision making through data management and analysis. The Dell infrastructure is critical to supporting XS, Inc.’s big data applications due to its flexibility and reliability.
 
“As population increases and farm land remains limited, efficiency on the field and in the data center is imperative,” says Darren Patterson, vice president of technology at XS, Inc. “When you factor in a drought, it’s even more important to make the most of your resources.”

As cloud computing in agriculture continues to increase, so too will the number of questions about it. To answer the most frequently asked questions, I’ve identified the top five things you need to know before entering the cloud, according to IT experts:

1. Private or public? If you’re considering adopting cloud computing, one of the first questions experts say you need to answer is private or public? A private cloud, built using your resources in your data center, leaves you in control but also means you shoulder the management overhead.  Public cloud services relieve you of that management burden but at the expense of some control. There’s also a hybrid approach, in which some data resides on a private cloud, while other data resides on a public cloud.

2. Is security a concern? For a long time people were concerned about the security of cloud-computing platforms, but most of them are actually now much more secure than traditional approaches that they replace, according to experts. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have any worries about security with cloud computing. The Cloud Security Alliance recommends you be aware of software interfaces, or APIs, that are used to interact with cloud services. “Reliance on a weak set of interfaces and APIs exposes organizations to a variety of security issues related to confidentiality, integrity, availability, and accountability,” says the group in its “Top Threats to Cloud Computing” document.

3. What are the benefits? Many cloud-computing service providers claim they can significantly reduce the cost and complexity of owning and operating computers and networks. Cloud services can often be customized and flexible to use, and providers can offer advanced services that an individual company might not have the money or expertise to develop. Plus, experts say you have ability to add storage as needed. When you need more capacity, you get more, and when you need less, you get less — and you pay only for what you get.

4. How can I ensure success? According to an April 2011 online survey by Baseline, two critical elements of a cloud strategy are not commonly recognized: attention to service levels and focus on integration. To ensure your path to cloud success, experts encourage businesses to incorporate both elements. Also, IT leaders should obtain hands-on experience with cloud computing to learn its capabilities before implementing a company-wide solution.

5. Will the role of my IT department change? Cloud computing will not eliminate the need for an IT team, but many experts believe it will likely shift the role it plays within an organization. Before cloud computing, technical support spent much of its time monitoring and/or recovering all devices and systems to make sure they were available for business operations. With the transition of many devices to the cloud, an IT staff can spend more time in the role of project manager, business analyst and strategic planner.

For more information on cloud computing, be sure to read business consultant Joe Dysart’s article, “Behind The ‘Cloud.’”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Matt Hopkins Stories

Matt Hopkins5 Misguided Reasons Why Ag Retailers Are Not Using Social Media
June 2, 2014
These most commonly cited reasons for not embracing social media need to be re-examined. Read More
Matt HopkinsHow iPads Are Transforming Customer Service At Dow AgroSciences
March 12, 2014
Dow AgroSciences' Tiffany Galloway discusses how iPads and mobile apps have completely changed the way the company's sales force interacts with customers. Read More
Matt HopkinsPrecision Agriculture: 6 Mobile Use Trends To Watch
March 3, 2014
The convergence of precision agriculture and mobile technology is highlighted by several key trends. Read More
Matt Hopkins15 Best New Agriculture Apps Worth Downloading In 2014
December 16, 2013
These latest agriculture apps are sure to help ag professionals do their jobs more efficiently in 2014 and beyond. Read More

Trending Articles

CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechUSDA Approves Enlist Following Rigorous Review
September 18, 2014
Dow AgroSciences now awaits EPA registration of Enlist Duo herbicide, the companion herbicide to the Enlist traits, which is expected in the near future. Read More
BlendersYargus Appoints New Plant Manager
September 18, 2014
Steve Shaffer will direct and coordinate daily operations at the company’s Marshall, IL, manufacturing plant, where the Layco line of material handling equipment is produced. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More
HerbicidesValent’s Fierce XLT Herbicide Receives EPA Approv…
September 8, 2014
Valent U.S.A. Corp. announced today that Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide is now federally registered for preemergence weed control in soybeans Read More
Eric SfiligojIndustry Consolidation Set To Increase Going Forward
September 8, 2014
As the agricultural marketplace moves into fall, one observer predicts the pace of consolidation will grow at all levels. Read More