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

Linkedin-Groups
Matt Hopkins5 Compelling Reasons To Join The PrecisionAg Professional LinkedIn Group
March 1, 2017
Many ag professionals are actively using sites such as Twitter and Facebook to promote their businesses. But perhaps no other Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
Twitter
Matt Hopkins15 Twitter Accounts Every Ag Professional Must Follow
October 13, 2016
What do singer Katy Perry and the President of the United States have in common? They are two of the Read More
Trending Articles
AdjuvantsA New Weed-Control Era Begins: But First, One Last Obstacle
March 4, 2017
There is trepidation, there is reluctance, and there is excitement. Ag retailers feel it all about the new dicamba and Read More
LIFT Academy video screenshot
Crop InputsLIFT Agriculture Academy: A Q&A With West Central Distribution’s Dean Hendrickson
March 1, 2017
West Central Distribution recently launched its LIFT Agriculture Academy, a new, premiere training and professional development resource for West Central’s ag Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Latest News
UncategorizedPrecision Ag, Iowa Water, and GM Corn Updates
March 24, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj look at the state of precision agriculture, the dismissal of the Des Moines Water Read More
Pam Marrone
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Enters Biostimulants Market Wit…
March 23, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. is expanding beyond biopesticides and crop protection and into the biostimulant market by commercially launching Haven Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teach…
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
ManagementThink You Know Water? Take WinField United’s R…
March 22, 2017
Water is among our most precious resources, and arguably the hardest working, with just one percent available for human use, Read More
Corn Field
LegislationTFI Hopes Court Dismissal Is ‘Final Chapter’…
March 20, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released the following statement from President, Chris Jahn on the March 17, 2017, federal court dismissal Read More
Wheat Growers
Industry NewsWheat Growers CEO Dale Locken To Retire
March 20, 2017
CEO Dale Locken has announced that he plans to retire from Wheat Growers. Locken has served almost 15 years as Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Eric SfiligojBayer-Monsanto: Life, LibertyLink, And The Pursuit Of R…
March 20, 2017
As the calendar officially turns to spring, life is in full renewal mode. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrien…
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
ManagementSnowstorms, Asset Sales, and Soybeans Prices
March 16, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the weather, precision ag, crop protection company mergers, and commodity prices in this Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In Th…
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
CHS
CropLife 100CHS Acquires Western Co-op Transport Association
March 16, 2017
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has purchased Western Co-op Transport Read More
Young corn plants in soil
HerbicidesBest Management Practices To Control PPO-Resistant Weed…
March 14, 2017
Weeds resistant to the class of herbicides called protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitors are spreading at a faster rate than weed Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Eric SfiligojFungicide Resistance On The Horizon
March 13, 2017
For many years now, the agricultural market has struggled to keep ahead of an ever-growing number of herbicide-resistant weeds. According Read More
Management2017 Commodity Classic Review
March 10, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss what happened at the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio. Read More
Farmer using AgriSync
ManagementMajor AgriSync Update Aims To Extend Ag Experts’ Power …
March 10, 2017
AgriSync announced a major update to its leading collaboration and service management tool for professional ag advisors and their farmer Read More
Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App
EquipmentNew Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App Alleviates Spraying …
March 10, 2017
There’s a new app to help farmers decide when to spray their fields. Pocket Spray Smart is a free iOS Read More
BPIA logo
Crop InputsBiological Products Trade Association Changes Name, Exp…
March 9, 2017
The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA), formerly the BioPesticide Industry Alliance, is the new name of the rapidly growing U.S.-based Read More
BBI MagnaSpread Salford BBI
Equipment14 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2017
March 9, 2017
Application equipment manufacturers stressed flexibility and accuracy with this year’s crop of fertilizer spreaders. From AGCO’s TerraGator TG9300B and Case IH’s 810 Read More