Navis, which provides software to about a quarter of the world’s container terminals, sees the future of its service space and operations heavily invested in the cloud.
“We’ve been looking at the cloud for quite a long time. It’s just a matter of when the industry and our customers are ready, and on that day if the technology and applications are ready for a full cloud deployment,” Robert Inchausti, Navis' Chief Technology Officer, told American Shipper
in an interview.
Inchausti said since the industry is relatively slow to adopt technology, he expects the move to cloud operations under Navis’ scope, such as terminal operating systems (TOS), to begin with secondary systems and services.
“There’s a lot of auxiliary applications that are, in the short term, more likely to move to the cloud than the key set of applications that the industry needs to run their operations,” Inchausti said. “From the perspective of risk mitigation, I don’t think there are very many customers that are ready to move critical applications like the TOS to the cloud just yet.”
Some of these auxiliary services that Inchausti sees as fertile ground for the cloud are training operations, and integrating and testing various deployments from third-party technology providers.
For training operations, one of the best setups is to have users work with live data in a realistic scenario. Inchausti noted cloud systems allow groups of large trainees to work with the same containers and cargo at the same time, but within their own test deployments.
“The quality of the training sessions has improved significantly,” he said. “Trainers can now focus on content rather than working on the logistics of managing what data is accessed by what student.”
Cloud platforms are also allowing companies to test new third-party software on a virtual platform that mimics existing infrastructure without putting any current operations at risk if something goes awry. This makes testing much quicker and smoother.
“I think it’s one of the areas not typically mentioned when cloud deployments are discussed, but in our opinion it’s probably one of the greatest benefits that it brings to the table,” Inchausti said. “Realistically, most of our customers could use five to seven instances of the TOS for various reasons, especially collaboration with vendors and testing the new release of a product.”
When asked what customers and partners should do to facilitate cloud deployments and movements, Inchausti said the first thing is simply start to look at the different cloud-based services for both work and personal activities.
“We’re still at an early-adopter stage, so it’s largely getting comfortable with the cloud," he said. "For now this is looking at cloud deployments for non-critical areas. As they become more comfortable with that and how stable clouds are from an infrastructure perspective, we expect to see movement toward non-production (areas).”
Inchausti has great expectations for cloud use within the terminal operations industry going forward.
“It really increases the sandbox in which we play because companies can try new things without putting their operations at risk," he said. "As we learn the benefits of the cloud and get more familiar with it, I think it’s a path that will lead to a set of technology and innovations that are here to stay.” - Geoff Whiting