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Archive for Articles – Page 2

What’s Your Level of Cloud Consideration?

Today we present the third of three articles about Cloud Hosting specifically for the AEC Industry. We look forward to your comments


‘Cloud is a viable option, but not a top consideration for many CIOs.’

As far as attention-grabbing headlines go, this one from Gartner certainly did the trick for me. More so than that, it got me thinking about the current state of the cloud in general, and how it’s truly being perceived within the AEC industry.


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Gartner recently released its 2015 CIO Survey, “Flipping to Digital Leadership: The 2015 CIO Agenda.
The report uncovered that only a small minority of CIOs look to the cloud as a first consideration.

Here’s a quick glimpse at the numbers: 9% of users today are not even considering cloud computing for software-as-a-service (SaaS) projects and only 15% when it comes to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) projects

What I find most interesting is the fact that, according to Gartner, one of the biggest obstacles comes from infrastructure and operations leaders. Exhibiting a more protective nature when it comes to their existing infrastructure, I&O leaders are resorting to “cloud-washing” as a reason for not seriously pursuing a true cloud-based solution.

I can tell you that the idea of “cloud washing” is indeed a very legitimate concern, but should not be applied as a blanket reason for making the cloud a secondary consideration for IT projects.

So what’s the solution?
Gartner suggests that I&O leaders should be instituting a ‘cloud-first’ consideration for every project on an application-by-application basis. Furthermore, companies should be evaluating all implementation models at the outset of a project in order to help save time and produce better results.

This advice, while certainly valid, can often fall under the category of easier said than done. Having worked within the AEC industry for over 15 years, I have experienced firsthand a user base that exhibits a ‘show me’ mentality when it comes to any technology. So I can certain attest to the fact that the only way to get tentative users on board with the cloud is to come at them with tangible reasons.

Take our customer Torcon as an example. Three years ago, Torcon approached us about hosting its Prolog solutions. This despite the fact that the company owns its Prolog and Prolog WebSite licenses. The company simply needed to run leaner and realized that by using our ProjectXnet Portal to host and maintain its Prolog solutions it could reduce the expense associated with in-house hardware and maintenance costs.


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That opened up a world of new possibilities. For instance, by handing off the hosting and maintenance capabilities of its Prolog suite to us, Torcon has now freed up resources to focus on true value add associated with those solutions. For example, custom reports. The company has built a rather impressive and extensive library of reports and letters all customized for Torcon.

The company has even been able to create custom cross-project reports to identify trends such as subcontractor safety. This is due to the fact that every project is executed using standardized processes and a single database. It’s one of those value-adds that could not have been as easily realized without the ability to have key IT resources freed up from hosting and maintenance, which is now handled via the cloud.

Technology leaders face two very critical challenges that are currently on a path of convergence: traditional technologies and operating models are becoming outdated and IT solutions need a fresh approach.

With that in mind, it makes me wonder why some in the market still aren’t considering cloud first. I agree with Gartner on the fact that in some cases on-premise, non-cloud deployment models might be the right fit, but all options must be considered in order to make the best use of available resources.

To that I turn the debate over to the AEC industry and ask:

Is cloud a primary or secondary consideration for your organization?
And if it’s the latter, what group seems to be the biggest obstacle?

 

If you are thinking about moving all or part of your business to the cloud, give us a call and let us show you how to leverage the myriad benefits of cloud hosting.

Your IT and the Cloud: Are they Compatible?

Today we present the second of three articles about Cloud Hosting specifically for the AEC Industry. We look forward to your comments


Offerings_Hosting_370x320Just because your AEC business is running legacy technology doesn’t mean it cannot make an easy transition to the cloud. In fact, many of today’s most successful matches between the cloud and construction are based on the process of “cloud-enabling” existing IT systems.

AEC Cloud has been hosting early every construction software available since 2000. It just comes down to a matter of compatibility.

You see, running an AEC business requires such core systems as project management, document management, accounting, estimating and job costing, for example. For the most part, these systems are not native cloud applications. No problem. Service solutions available today can ensure that what isn’t “cloud native” in your IT department can certainly become “cloud ready.”

Of course, the ultimate compatibility test is made up such factors as time, cost and security. But such issues have become relative non-issues as cloud services and solutions are faster, better, cheaper and more secure. Just ask our clients, such as The J. Companies and Morley Builders.

A Secure Package
Let’s take The J Companies, a builder/construction manager based in New York, as our first example. The company started down its cloud-based IT path in 2005 by hosting Prolog Manager from Meridian Systems using our AEC Cloud. Over time as the needs of IT expanded, so too has the role of the cloud.

For example, with clients located across the country, and with multiple construction, consulting or development projects going on simultaneously, the need to compile information and keep documents organized has become the priority.

Today, you can find Microsoft Office, Microsoft Exchange, Document Locator from ColumbiaSoft, and Master Builder from Sage, accompanying its Prolog Manager application up in the cloud. A custom solution gives employees access to an integrated package of virtual desktop, document management, accounting, and project management tools that can be accessed anywhere and anytime.

So let’s talk security. Document Locator is essentially the core of the business for The J Companies. With the AEC Cloud, an unlimited library of documents has become stored in the cloud. Given the high quality document security, that means that there is never a risk of information being left unsecure in the cloud.

Just ask David Brot, the Principal of The J Companies, who says that he has never needed to worry about his company’s information. Document security and stability in the cloud has never been an issue.

Low Cost and Connected
Now let’s address that issue of high cost. Back in 2013 when we first engaged with Morley Builders the company was talking with many different software vendors about developing a custom solution. The company was looking to have its employees maintain large amounts of drawing and specification information and stay connected, while working at construction sites or back at the office.

It was an exercise that, as many other AEC companies have figured out, is prohibitive in terms of time and cost.

This is where an OBA can come into play. This is an application written for Microsoft Office applications based on .NET technology that uses web services to connect to a Line of Business (LOB) application, or other applications. OBAs that are built on the Microsoft Office Business Application framework are used for extending LOB applications. This means that AEC companies can capture critical information in spreadsheets and work offline.

Today Morley Builders uses our Drawings & Specification OBA. This allows its employees to input large volumes of data all at once. The fact that the OBA interfaces with Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheets makes it easy for employees to get up to speed learning the tool very quickly.

Like The J Companies, Morley Builders works with Prolog. This is where the direct connection from the OBA comes in handy, making the process of batch revisions an integrated process between the programs.

Cloud Considerations
It’s not difficult to find these types of success stories within the AEC industry. More and more, we see companies coming to us to help make the cloud a critical part of the way they run their IT systems across the company.

Applications like Dropbox, Evernote, Box and others have catapulted the idea of “the cloud” into the IT discussion these days. But the truth of the matter is that the cloud has long been a part of doing business in construction, tied to core operational systems.

Legacy IT systems are necessary in construction. So too is the cloud. Ensuring they are compatible can be the most powerful investment your company can make in 2015.

[infobox]If you are thinking about moving all or part of your business to the cloud, give us a call and let us show you how to leverage the myriad benefits of cloud hosting.

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Embracing the 5 Characteristics of Cloud for Construction

The cloud holds true potential for transforming the AEC industry. This potential, however, has gone largely unfulfilled due in large part to the ambiguous manner in which it has been defined in general. This in turn has led to a lack of confidence from key decision makers when evaluating cloud solutions for their construction business.

The value of the cloud boils down to five essential characteristics, derived from the cloud-computing definition published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Chances are you are familiar with these characteristics on some level, having interacting with cloud-based solutions on a daily basis. Stripping away the tech jargon, along with the marketing-speak, you uncover a solid set of criteria for which to hold the cloud up against going forward.

On-Demand Self-Service

You control the services. At its core, this is the most essential value of a cloud-based application. This allows you to configure and monitor capabilities on your terms. Take your basic online storage applications, like iCloud, Amazon Cloud, SkyDrive, and think of the premium aspect. You are only billed for what you use under a subscription-based billing model.

In construction this is a model that can be adopted for such systems as project management. Providing a “pay-as-you-use” functionality will ultimately prove its value as you scale from large job down to small.

Broad Network Access

Access any time on any device. Take an application like Dropbox as an example. This file-hosting service helps you maximize usage as desired, allowing access to files from any device at any time. You create a unique folder to upload files. That folder is then synchronized so that it appears as the same folder on any device—web or mobile—regardless of how you choose to access it. Of notable appeal is the ability for various users to share and collaborate on files.

In construction, such functionality becomes the base for many collaborative solutions, some of which have even mimicked the model of Dropbox. One critical factor to keep in mind with broad network access is pertains to version control—ensuring there are rules in place to ensure that users are always working with the most up-to-date documents.

Resource Pooling

Shared computing resources. True cloud applications dynamically assign such computing resources as processing, memory, and bandwidth across multiple tenants. Your level of demand dictates the manner in which various physical and virtual resources are dynamically assigned and reassigned.

At the physical layer is where virtualization comes into play with hardware being the virtualized resource. The cloud adds that all-important management control layer for scaling the pool up and down as needed. Memory and storage are examples of pooled virtualized resources.

Rapid Elasticity

Pay for use. The same manner in which you may add and delete storage on your cloud-based email account, for example, correlates to function elasticity for cloud-based applications.

Do you have a job that requires the need to provide partners, like a sub or architect, access to files or permissions for only a finite amount of time? Work with a cloud-based system that can scale access for third parties up or down as needed. You save on resources and training, while having centrally located files and applications throughout the course of the job.

Measured Service

What gets measured gets managed. This old adage certainly applies here. There is no ambiguity when it comes to measured service—your resources are monitored, controlled, and reported. Think of an automated remote service where you receive reports on what has been used. It’s the cloud equivalent of an invoice. This means transparency for you, transparency for the provider—no questions asked. Today any cloud application worthy of your investment will provide you with such capability.

These five characteristics make up the essentials for embracing cloud services in construction. Understanding the value inherent in each will help you appropriately move forward applying the cloud to your AEC business.

Next comes the step of considering the delivery methods and deployment models best suited for your AEC environment. IT plays a strong enabling in this process. Next month we address the methods for getting IT on board with the move to the cloud.

Developing a Strategy for Cloud in Construction: September 04, 2012

For IT professionals in the construction industry, cloud computing is creating a certain level of complexities for doing business. Before diving head first into the cloud, contractors need to carefully consider how such technologies will work within the business, creating a strategy for how to move forward with the cloud.

[Read More @ Constructech Magazine]

Pricing Out the Cloud for Construction: July 26, 2012

Many questions regarding the cloud exist within construction. Everything from what it is to, whether or not it is useful seems to be on the minds of construction professionals these days. But for all the positives and negatives surrounding the cloud, perhaps the biggest misnomer that exists is with regards to cost.  [Read More @ Constructech Magazine]

Taking Construction to the Cloud: August 31, 2011

For today’s construction professional, having his or her head in the clouds may not be such a bad thing–especially when it comes to adopting cloud-based software solutions. Whereas in the past, technology solutions required an upfront investment and ongoing IT maintenance, the cloud can remove these barriers to entry.

[Read More]

How Much Cloud for Construction?: May 24, 2011

When it comes to cloud computing in construction, the question isn’t so much should you take to it, but rather what is the right amount? Information technology managers in construction are struggling with the tongue-in-cheek “fully vs. partially cloudy” dilemma regarding which construction technology applications are indeed best suited for the cloud.

[Read More]

TCG Client, Torcon, Inc. Wins 2010 Constructech Vision Award

TCG Client, Torcon, Inc.  wins 2010 Constructech Vision Award.  The Cram Group receives Technology Enabler Award for service excellence from Constructech.

[Read Full Article]

Construction in the Clouds : Aug 24, 2010

As construction companies look towards the cloud-cloud computing, that is-many are looking for answers.

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Keeping Project Information Secure: Mar 10, 2010

In the construction industry, it’s crucial to ensure project information is accessible by everyone involved in the project. This includes superintendents, project managers, and of course field workers.

[Read Full Article]