Why Digital Engineering Requires a Cloud Transformation
Today, designers and manufacturers of physical systems such as aircraft, engines, vehicles, automobiles, satellites, and wind turbines are adopting Digital Engineering practices to improve efficiency, speed, and quality. In our prior blog, we defined concepts including Digital Engineering, Digital Twins, Digital Threads, and Model Based Systems Engineering to provide clarity in our discussions with customers. This blog post outlines the reasons the cloud is an enabling technology for customers taking the journey to embrace Digital Engineering.
The Value of Cloud for Digital Engineering
The primary goal of Digital Engineering is to integrate the data, models, tools, and processes used by multiple teams, disciplines, and organizations into a common environment. This can enable faster time to market and lower costs with real-time access to information across an enterprise, rapid feedback through modelling and simulation, and the ability to innovate with technologies such as artificial intelligence.
Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the Internet with pay-as-you-go pricing. Organizations of every type, size, and industry are using the cloud for a wide variety of use cases, such as data backup, disaster recovery, email, virtual desktops, software development and testing, big data analytics, and customer-facing web applications. AWS offers over 200 services, helping our customers build the solutions they need without doing all of the heavy lifting themselves. To learn more visit: What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is a key enabler for Digital Engineering due to the following reasons:
- Agility and Flexibility: A Digital Engineering environment must keep pace with evolving needs and modernization to incorporate or replace new technologies. It avoids vendor lock, and provides the ability to rapidly experiment.
- Scalability: A Digital Engineering environment must be able to easily and quickly scale-up and scale-down without impacting teams to account for resource use as it varies significantly over the lifetime of a program.
- Connectivity: Digital Engineering helps teams collaborate and work more effectively from multiple locations and across internal and external organizations using their preferred tools and practices.
- Security: Program data must be secure and environments must be compliant to internal and government standards when handling proprietary, ITAR, classified, or other protected data.
- Reliability, Availability, Durability: A Digital Engineering environment will be at the center of engineering operations, and must ensure functionality for business continuity and provide long-term data protection.
- Cost-effectiveness: A Digital Engineering environment must help customers reduce costs. The creation, hosting, and management of an environment must be cost effective.
The following sections will explain how AWS enables customers to achieve each of the requirements listed above when embracing Digital Engineering in the cloud.
Agility and Flexibility
A Digital Engineering environment must respond with agility to changing engineering needs and technologies. AWS brings the largest breadth and depth of services, so customers can innovate faster and build nearly anything they can imagine. Services can be deployed in a matter of minutes, and modular architectures allow new technologies to be incorporated or replaced with minimal impact. Engineering and IT teams can work together to move from idea to implementation faster with the freedom to experiment, test new ideas, and transform their business without typical IT constraints. Specifically, in Digital Engineering, teams use different tools based on their skillset, training, or end-customer requirements. AWS helps by allowing teams to rapidly create environments through the use of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) on AWS, which allows teams to programmatically deploy resources just like a developer deploys applications. With the IaC approach, you can automatically deploy containerized software, AWS services, partner solutions, hybrid solutions, constructs, and manage access to resources and more in minutes or even seconds. As new programs are started, customers can quickly replicate environments making these deployments reusable instead of dedicating months to stand up new tools, manage licenses, and define access permissions. AWS is built for a “builder culture” with DevSecOps and Software Factory concepts. Microservices and modular deployments allow customers to keep pace with evolving engineering and manufacturing technologies as new technologies or solutions can be easily “plugged-in”. Thousands of customer offerings are available on AWS Marketplace which provide access to partner offerings and flexible licensing models helping customers avoid inflexible on-premises upgrade cycles. AWS also provides native trusted services ready for deployment at any time that are compliant to most customers’ requirements. IT teams can quickly pull in modern services and applications without waiting on long IT approval processing, funding cycles, licensing support, or inaccessibility in federated environments.
The cloud offers nearly infinitely scalable infrastructure. Teams and users no longer compete over valuable server resources to run their simulations, execute tests, access large data sets, or visualize 3D models. Additional compute resources can be spun up as needed such as during design review preparations when many simulations must be executed and analyzed. Teams can build “massively” scalable simulations that execute in a fraction of the time, because they can access tens to hundreds of thousands of processors. Week long tests can be shortened to days or hours allowing teams to move faster. In addition, the cloud offers virtually unlimited storage. Customers can generate a massive amount of data from design, manufacturing, testing, simulations, and operations. AWS helps these customers manage their data growth as the design becomes more complex or more engineering data is collected. Teams do not need to spend valuable time emailing files, managing storage limits, moving information between multiple systems, or finding that valuable information was deleted to make room for newer data. Available storage can scale up or down and intelligent tiering can automate archiving and optimize storage costs. AWS provides technologies to address your specific requirements such as granular and attribute-based access management, centralized management or working in a hybrid (AWS-vendor-on-premises) environment.
Building an integrated Digital Engineering environment allows democratized access to information and collaboration across an entire enterprise, but collaboration does not need to stop at the boundaries of an enterprise. AWS offers regions, availability zones, and local zones around the world enabling customers to deploy global solutions in minutes to support distributed engineering and manufacturing teams. AWS also supports hybrid solutions for customers with latency or security requirements with AWS Edge Services. Edge devices natively connect to the cloud enabling ultra-low latency applications to be closer to users and AWS services to be run on premises. Customers can create a fully connected environment including devices, vehicles, manufacturing equipment, and more. AWS Cleanrooms and AWS DataZone help customers and partners securely share and collaborate on data while enforcing your governance and compliance policies without revealing underlying data. Democratizing data access and increasing collaboration introduces greater challenges around controlling access and permissions for internal and external users, roles, and groups. AWS provides the tools needed to access and modify data as required. Customers no longer are constrained to traditional data sharing methods and can collaborate as close partners.
Security will always be the top priority for AWS. AWS satisfies the highest standards for privacy and data security for the most sensitive financial, healthcare, and government organizations. Cross-domain solutions and air gapped regions like AWS GovCloud allow customers to build in the environment that is right for them while reducing the heavy lifting required to accredit or certify their own environment to win new business. AWS’s scale allows significantly more investment in security policing and countermeasures than almost any large company could afford themselves. AWS Security allows you to scale securely with superior visibility, granular control, risk management, smart and automated responses with the highest standards in security and privacy. AWS has the largest ecosystem of security partners and solutions and provides the most comprehensive security and compliance controls.
Reliability, Availability, Durability
A Digital Engineering environment should be cost effective and performant, as well as reliable, available, and durable. AWS helps customers keep their operations running by automatically recovering from failure, architecting systems to reduce the impact of a single failure, and provisioning additional resources as workloads approach their limits. In addition, AWS services follow the Well-Architected Framework (WAF). For instance, the Amazon Simple Storage Service offers a durability of 99.999999999% (11 9’s) and the first cloud-native graph database, Amazon Neptune, creates six database copies stored over three Availability Zones. Moreover, AWS’s Global Infrastructure is the most secure, extensive, and reliable global cloud infrastructure. This allows customers to focus on Digital Engineering activities and less on managing their environment.
Reducing cost is one of the primary benefits of Digital Engineering, and the cloud helps further reduce cost as customers trade fixed expenses (such as data centers and physical servers) for variable expenses with pay-as-you-use pricing. Plus, the variable expenses are much lower than what customers would pay to procure and manage on-premises equipment because of the economies of scale. AWS provides a range of cost management tools for reporting and cost optimization under AWS Cost Management. This includes notifications, automations, AI/ML based cost-optimization recommendations, cost forecasting, visibility and monitoring tools, and reporting.
The Case for Cloud Adoption
Digital Engineering is an opportunity for customers to reinvent the engineering lifecycle. We believe the cloud is an enabler for customers embracing Digital Engineering as they require environments that are agile, scalable, connected, secure, reliable, available, durable and cost-effective. These attributes are the core strengths of the cloud and are the reasons that customers around the world are migrating their engineering workloads.
Customers like Rivian, NP Innovation, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, and others from multiple engineering disciplines are using AWS today. Rivian improved the speed of their software tools by up to 66 percent and can load a full vehicle bill of materials in 22 minutes. NP Innovation increased the re-use of existing designs and data by 50 percent and realized 50 percent time savings spent searching for product data. Commonwealth Fusion Systems increased the speed of many simulation tasks, cut runtimes approximately in half, and reduced their computing costs by over 50%.
If you would like to learn more, continue reading our other blogs, whitepapers, and guidance on engineering and design topics including digital twin levels (L1, L2, L3, L4), MBSE (whitepaper, guidance), CFD, and DoD Compliance.