Digital transformation has arrived in manufacturing. Industry veterans Roland Wartenberg (NetApp) and Dr. Thomas Kuhn (Fraunhofer IESE) meet to discuss the future of the industrial sector. They take stock of the current situation and discuss ideas about how and where to go digital.

Hybrid Clouds: Here to Stay

According to a recent study by Capgemini, the cloud is one of the most important topics on the minds of decision makers. The manufacturing industry is eager to benefit from the agility,  flexibility, and scalability of the cloud. Hybrid environments are preferred, “which require an architecture for data management in order to connect and unify processes in the cloud and on the premises,” says Wartenberg.


The NetApp® Data Fabric strategy provides a framework that enables organizations to drive their own digital transformation. For manufacturing, that means interconnecting production processes according to Industry 4.0 standards.

Industry 4.0

Kuhn offers the following definition: “Industry 4.0 is the continuous digitization of production processes, through which the world of devices, the so-called shop floor, becomes connected with the IT world, the office floor. This connection generates a great deal of the data needed to optimize production. At the core, Industry 4.0 is about harnessing this data.”


The classic production setup used sealedoff networks in production and used cloud technology in IT. Kuhn looks instead to the networked supply chains and smart contracts of Industry 4.0.


Industry 4.0 can produce small quantities more economically than the classical production model. The traditional model requires automation and can’t be limited to production processes alone. According to Kuhn, “The break between these two worlds leads to performance losses in production because orders have to be manually phased into production processes.

BaSys 4.0: The First Step Toward Automation

Kuhn and Wartenberg agree that the first step toward automation lies in an integrated network structure between the shop floor and IT.


However, there is no single communication standard that can end the protocol diversity in the production hall. “We need end-to-end communication that connects these protocols and ensures that the server from the shop floor can talk to the sensor in the office floor. BaSys 4.0 implements this end-to-end communication.”

Integrative IT Architectures Will Be Crucial

Data management specialist Wartenberg sees similarities between BaSys 4.0 and NetApp Data Fabric. The Data Fabric adds automation and security measures that simplify data transformation. “In this regard, Industry 4.0 is very much like connecting business processes, systems, and devices. Like the Data Fabric strategy, the aim is to better manage and securely archive generated data. Which is why topics such as the GDPR are also very important for companies.” Kuhn cites integrated IT architectures and the implementation of effective security measures as a challenge that modern businesses face.


View the full fireside conversation.

Background information: BaSys 4.0

The Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering (IESE) has developed BaSys 4.0 with 14 partners from manufacturing, research, and IT as opensource middleware that enables heterogeneous systems for Industry 4.0. Independently of the BaSys 4.0 research project, Fraunhofer IESE cooperates with the data management specialist NetApp and the digital expert Objective Partner on an IT infrastructure that is ready for use now and that can be connected to the SAP world. The IT stack, which consists of hybrid cloud infrastructure, container, Kubernetes, and storage provisioning technology, scales as required.


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Kelli Lawless

Kelli Lawless is NetApp’s Head of Editorial Content and Strategy. In her time with NetApp, she has led several pilot programs and works closely with executives, partners, and customers to identify thought leaders with inspiring technology stories. In the past 20 years, Kelli has helped iconic brands find their voice, played in instrumental role in award-winning campaigns, and cultivated a deep passion for creating content that helps business leaders learn from each other.

When Kelli’s not honing her storytelling craft, you’ll find her playing on the beach with her two senior dogs, hosting dinner parties for friends, or exploring remote reef systems with her scuba-diving husband.

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