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
Top 100 Articles
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
corn field
CropLife 100The Andersons’ Humic DG Now Available In Canada
February 13, 2015
The Andersons, Inc. Turf & Specialty Group has announced its Humic DG product is now available to customers in the Canadian turf, agriculture and horticulture markets. Read More
Latest News
Crop InputsCommodity Classic 2015 Sets Attendance High Mark
March 4, 2015
With nearly 8,000 total attendees, the 2015 Commodity Classic convention and trade show, which took place last week in Phoenix, AZ, shattered previous records for the landmark event, Read More
Young corn plants
FertilizerNew Nitrogen Stabilizer From Simplot Protects Fertilize…
March 4, 2015
By using OmniPierce Technology, Eclipse-N from Simplot Grower Solutions coats and protects more nitrogen, increasing nitrogen efficiency and decreasing loss due to volatilization. Read More
Industry NewsOhio Corn And Wheat Growers Association, Ohio Soybean A…
March 4, 2015
The associations truly appreciate the comprehensive approach and diligent work that the Ohio House of Representatives has dedicated to addressing water quality and House Bill 61. Read More
Mahindra Implement
Industry NewsMahindra USA Aligns With Paladin Attachment For Impleme…
March 4, 2015
Mahindra USA will begin utilizing Paladin Attachments as its implement supplier in April 2015. Read More
Crop InputsValent BioSciences Acquires Mycorrhizal Applications
March 4, 2015
The acquisition adds another strategic platform to VBC’s rapidly expanding global biorational business, providing additional tools for the Biorational Window platform being developed with its parent, Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd. Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation - Plant Nutrient on the Farm Station
Industry NewsNutrients For Life Foundation Launches New Station Prog…
March 4, 2015
This ready-to-implement station provides an interactive opportunity for farms to showcase crop nutrients’ important role in growing healthy crops. Read More
Adjuvants loading
AdjuvantsAdjuvants Continue Upward Trend
March 4, 2015
A dizzying array of developments in crop protection technologies promise to make specialty adjuvants a crucial piece of the puzzle going forward. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Me…
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
10 Tips for Spring Planter Preparation
Equipment10 Tips For Spring Planter Preparation
March 3, 2015
Kinze Manufacturing offers advice on how to ensure your planter is ready before you hit the field. Read More
Industry NewsOABA 2015 LAUNCH Program Recognizes 20 New Graduates
March 3, 2015
Twenty Ohio agribusiness leaders are being recognized as the latest graduates of Ohio AgriBusiness Association’s LAUNCH program. Read More
EquipmentNew AGCO Website Helps Customers Shop For Certified Pre…
March 3, 2015
RoGator sprayers are among the wide range of CPO equipment available through AGCO's site. Read More
Enlist spray Demo
HerbicidesGuiding New Herbicide Systems’ Launches
March 3, 2015
Under careful watch, the new 2,4-D- and dicamba-tolerant crops hit more acres this season. Read More
Eric SfiligojCommodity Classic 2015: Playing The Waiting Game
March 2, 2015
There was plenty of future-talk at this year’s event as companies (and growers) are largely in a holding pattern of sorts. Read More
Industry NewsHighway Equipment Appoints New Director Of Business Dev…
March 2, 2015
Cory Venable, who joined Highway Equipment Company (HECO) in 2013 as OEM Account Manager, has been promoted to Director of Business Development. Read More
Prairieland FS employees
Eric SfiligojWorkforce Worries
March 2, 2015
Finding good employees almost always ranks as the No. 1 or No. 2 problem for ag retailers in our annual CropLife 100 survey. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location I…
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More