Technology is now critical to the manufacturing process—to great business benefit. But technical infrastructure, including all server technology, must be updated regularly and monitored constantly to work at peak performance. So if you work in manufacturing and are still using a dusty, old server from 10 years ago, it’s time to modernize. While the manufacturing industry has rapidly modernized in product innovation, their SQL Server infrastructure and IT strategies have not matured at the same rate.
Ensuring that data remains available to the business’s critical applications (like your ERP or finance systems) remains the top concern. But other important factors like performance, scalability, and security are worth assessing, especially for manufacturers with considerable growth plans.
Efficient production and delivery are always top priority for manufacturers, and for good reason. But one truth manufacturers need to realize is this: you can actually become MORE efficient when you modernize your data platform and prepare to scale.
Know what to do when disaster strikes
Without a disaster recovery plan for your data, the applications that depend on your SQL Servers can go completely down. Add that to poorly architected server infrastructure, and the likelihood of an unexpected failure goes up. This creates downstream problems like productivity bottlenecks and database inaccuracies, which can end up prolonging production downtime and restricting your operations.
We recommend you plan your backup strategies when you architect your SQL Servers, so you can relate them directly to your company’s needs. For manufacturers, you’ll need to balance business applications and data retention requirements at every level. This provides a solid plan before you start adding functionality and databases.
Note that relying solely on your SQL backups is not an adequate disaster recovery plan. They’re a part of the recovery plan, sure, but your data doesn’t just sit on your server; your data interacts with the other applications integrated with your SQL Server database (such as your CRM or inventory management app).
Make sure you follow ANY compliance regulations coming into effect
As the manufacturing industry picks up steam, it becomes a more attractive target for cybercrime. Cybercrime has been increasing year over year as digital processes become ever-more woven into business processes and as the sophistication of hackers increases. Unfortunately, manufacturers present a particularly appealing target, as they possess valuable data. This attractiveness as a target, coupled with the weaknesses of outdated software and the relative inexperience of the industry with cybersecurity, demonstrates how serious the risk truly is.
Adding to the risk of falling victim to cybercrime, manufacturers could now easily lose a contract if they are not compliant with the policies outlined in these privacy laws. In response to the projected increase in cybersecurity risk, the EU signed into effect the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. For manufacturing companies inside Europe, regular patching and use of supported software are requirements of GDPR compliance.
In the Americas, Brazil implemented Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados (LGPD) in 2020, and the United States has recently introduced new compliance standards that specifically apply to any contractors and subcontractors working with the U.S. Department of Defense.
Non-compliance with these regulations and laws carries heavy consequences—not just in the form of a lost contract, but in the form of large fines and the loss of trust in your customer relationships. Updating your data systems is the best way to avoid dealing with these consequences.
Consider cloud modernization
If you want your business to grow, the volume and complexity of its data grows with it. Considering scalability is an important factor when it comes to managing your SQL Server, especially as you make efforts to grow your business. Unfortunately, many manufacturers are using legacy server technology not built with cloud enabled infrastructure. In 2021, you have options— the cloud market is maturing and your options for infrastructure functionality are endless.
Cloud modernization is an attractive option for manufacturers for many reasons, the least of which is that it’s infinitely scalable. Migrating your data to the AWS or Azure Cloud ensures you have server support as your business grows. There is also the option of leveraging the hybrid cloud model, which is the compromise: you store some of your data on-premises and other data in the cloud.
If you’re unsure where to start, get a data expert to do an assessment of your data infrastructure and an environment health check. They can tell you if your system’s current SQL Server can handle your operations.
When your machines are up and working the way they’re meant to, you can keep your operations moving and business running. But their ability to work as they should be is becoming increasingly contingent on your SQL Servers. Update to new and supported versions of these systems, and you’ll gain a competitive edge with a stronger IT setup and new features that can further streamline your operations and processes.