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Archive for Newsletters – Page 2

Can Cyber Threats Poison Your Construction Data?

cloud-securityIn the world of digital business, cyber threats are evergreen. No matter what measures are put into place to protect our electronic data “hackers” will always be out there trying to expose it.

Venom. It’s the latest cyber threat that had everyone on high alert these past weeks. What makes Venom particularly noteworthy is the fact that a hacker can gain access to one virtual machine and begin to manipulate adjacent machines (i.e., other data on the system’s network).

While it certainly sounds more intimidating by name than previous bugs like ‘Heartbleed’ and ‘Shellshock’, when you break it down, Venom—short for Virtualized Environment Neglected Operations Manipulation—shouldn’t poison your thoughts on the cloud.

An Executive Order
A recent global survey from Price Waterhouse Coopers revealed that executives today consider cyber security technology among the top-three most strategically important types of digital technology for their business.

The fact that cyber security is becoming an executive order should come as no surprise. Given the rise of mobile devices, interconnected business systems and even the Internet of Things that looks to give everything from our vehicles to our vacuums an IP address, it’s a wonder why this is even noteworthy (read: executive should be putting cyber security at the top of their agenda)

I think the real news here is that the topic of cyber security is officially coming out of the IT department and into the boardroom.

Cyber Threats Threaten Construction
Logo_AECCloud_Option2_167According to the 2015 Data Breach Investigation Report from Verizon, there were 2,122 confirmed data breaches in 2014. This is up from 1,367 confirmed breaches worldwide in 2013. These data breaches resulted in 700 million records being compromised, equivalent to the loss of $400 million.

Of those 2,122 data breaches, the number that occurred within construction? Three—one of which didn’t result in any confirmed data loss. To be fair, the Verizon study polled only 70 organizations worldwide. Still, when you compare our industry against others like manufacturing (525) and retail (523), we are looking pretty secure.

Of course part of the reason for such a low number of breaches could do with the fact that RFIs and change orders aren’t exactly glorious data grabs for cyber criminals. But all kidding aside, there are project teams around the globe sharing some pretty hefty sets of data on the construction and operation of major facilities. Data that could be pretty dangerous if fallen into the wrong hands.

Can we credit the secure nature of data exchange within construction to the fact that more and more construction data is being stored in the cloud these days? Could data actually be safer in the cloud than on physical on-premise servers?

testimonial02I say yes. And it’s due to the commitment that cloud service providers are making at protecting your data. At The Cram Group we partner with Equinix as the Data Center provider, leveraging the company’s Tier-1 global network. This provides many physical advantages that ensure the best results for customers in direct benefit to clients, such as:

  • Security 24/7 security and video surveillance.
  • Trained security guards on-site at all times.
  • Servers located in locked cage.
  • Hand-scan required to enter controlled areas.
  • 24/7 time-in & time-out visitor logs maintained by security staff

 

AEC Cloud Hosting and The Cram Group have over 15 years of hands on real world experience in protecting data for the largest construction firms in the industry. We have the know how and expertise so you can rest at night knowing your data is secure.

Find out what AEC Cloud can do for your business migration to the cloud. Schedule a live demo today and see for yourself the possibilities we can offer.

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OBA: Mixing a Little Excel with Your Cloud Strategy

cloud-app-access-via-multi-devicesMore than 30% of construction companies rely on spreadsheets as part of their process for carrying out day-to-day construction tasks. For anyone familiar with this industry, that number shouldn’t come as a shock. But what might come as a surprise to some is the fact that such a stat could have cloud implications.

This figure comes from the recently published report Construction Software BuyerView by Software Advice. I agree with their assessment that most construction firms find it difficult (i.e., cost prohibitive) to relinquish their traditional methods and adapt their processes. But this is where construction companies must embrace a strategy of adopting new technologies while still leveraging current investments.

This is where I believe Microsoft Office Business Applications (OBAs) play a valuable role for the construction industry. For those not familiar with OBA, here’s a quick run down:

  • An OBA is an application written for Microsoft Office and is based on .NET technology that uses Web services to connect to a standard Line of Business (LOB) or other application. This certainly makes OBAs very NIST-friendly based on its Five Cloud Characteristics.
  • OBAs work by using Microsoft Office as the interface to capture information that is sent via Web services in XML format.
  • The most commonly used OBAs in the AEC industry are based on Microsoft Excel.
  • OBAs are different than the use of Microsoft Office in combination with import/export methods—don’t let some vendors fool you! Here’s the difference: OBAs connect to the LOB application via Web Services. A Microsoft Excel-based OBA, for example, allows for a pre-mapped, secure, two-way connection over the Internet between Excel and the LOB—something that simply cannot be done using traditional import/export.

Here is where the cost value truly comes into play. For many construction companies, achieving such level of integration involves developing a custom solution. And that’s where Software Advice’s statement about the industry’s reluctance to relinquish traditional methods holds true. But that doesn’t need to be the case, thanks to OBAs.

Take the AECCloud customer Morley Builders, for example. It was looking for a way to eliminate the need for employees to manually input large data sets of drawing and specification information. The company is using AEC Cloud’s Drawings & Specification OBA, which interfaces with Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheets.

With this, Morley’s employees are able to quickly input a large amount of data all at once, which saves time. Perhaps the greatest time-saving activity comes during the start of a project, when it is not uncommon for certain information to be repetitive.

And this is one of many success stories. For AEC Cloud, we take a very targeted approach to delivering OBAs to the construction industry:

One Source: The OBA Store is our online source for Microsoft OBAs where we have standard OBAs for most features supported by Trimble Meridian Prolog. We have standard OBAs for most features supported by Prolog and are always looking to build them for other Line of Business applications based on client demand and Vendors opening up their web service technologies.  Get a free account to access and browse to the largest catalog of OBAs for the AEC Industry! Sign Up Here or Login Here if you already have an account.

One Host: We offer the ability host them, or allow users to host them if that is preferred.

Centralized Management: OBA Online is the source for hosting OBAs, and when combined with the OBA Store allows users to buy, manage, and deploy OBAs in a very efficient manner.

An Eye Ahead: We are always looking to build OBAs for other LOB applications based on client demand. But this necessitates other software vendors opening up their Web service technologies.

So for anyone who tells you that the use of Microsoft Excel and the cloud simply don’t mix—think again. OBAs can make that use of Excel very innovative for years to come.

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About The Cram Group & AEC Cloud
Since 2001, The Cram Group is a leading Consulting, Hosting, and Development services provider focused on the AEC Industry. Core offerings include education about Cloud Computing and Solutions based on the NIST Cloud Definition; Software for Unified Application Management and Role Specific Applications; and Services from Advisory to Maintenance which are available direct and through a nationwide Certified Partner Network.
For more information, call 212-505-0381, or email us sales@aeccloud.com

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.

Newsletter: 10-28-14: Trimble Dimensions 2014: Now Taking Appointments for Meetings

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Will You Be in Las Vegas for the Trimble Dimensions 2014 Conference?

Do You Have Questions About How Cloud Hosting Can Help Your Business Be More Profitable and Effecient?

We are now taking appointments for a PRIVATE Q & A with one of the leading experts in the AEC Cloud Hosting space, Wes Smith.

This is an excellent opportunity to get a one on one session on AEC Cloud Hosting and how it can bring your business into the 21st Century. Wes Smith, a pioneer in the AEC Cloud Hosting space since 1999, will sit with you in a private session to answer questions about how your business can become more profitable by leveraging AEC Cloud Hosting technologies.

If you are attending the Trimble Dimensions 2014, taking place from November 3 – 5, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada, then email us info@aeccloud.com or call 212-505-0381 to setup an appointment now. Space is limited.

This is an opportunity that should not be missed. Learn more about AEC Cloud Hosting from a well respected thought leader in AEC Cloud Hosting space.

See you at the conference!

Give us a call today and let us help guide your business to the “Cloud”.

Call now 212-505-0381

Or email: sales@aeccloud.com

 

Newsletter: 10-27-14: CMiC Connect 2014: Now Taking Appointments for Meetings

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Are You Going to CMiC Connect 2014 on November 2-5?

Do You Have Questions About How Cloud Hosting Can Help Your Business Be More Profitable?

We are now taking appointments for a PRIVATE Q & A with one of the leading experts in the AEC Cloud Hosting space, Wes Smith.

This is an excellent opportunity to get a one on one session on AEC Cloud Hosting and how it can bring your business into the 21st Century. Wes Smith, a pioneer in the AEC Cloud Hosting space since 1999, will sit with you in a private session to answer questions about how your business can become more profitable by leveraging AEC Cloud Hosting technologies.

If you are attending the CMiC Connect 2014: CMiC Untethered: The Mobile Revolution, taking place from November 2 – 5, 2014 at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida, then email us info@aeccloud.com or call 212-505-0381 to setup an appointment now. Space is limited.

This is an opportunity that should not be missed. Learn more about AEC Cloud Hosting from a well respected thought leader in AEC Cloud Hosting space.

See you at the conference!

Give us a call today and let us help guide your business to the “Cloud”.

Call now 212-505-0381

Or email: sales@aeccloud.com

Copyright © 2001-2014 AEC Cloud, The Cram Group, LLC
October 27, 2014

 

Newsletter 10-23-14: OBA: Submittal Packages – Use Excel to Manage Details in Prolog Manager

OBA: Submittal Packages – Use Excel to Manage Details in Prolog Manager

The Submittal Packages OBA is an Excel-based form that enables users to create, read, update and delete the details of records in Prolog Manager depending on Prolog Security settings.

You can learn more about this OBA by viewing the PDF file here

 

Office Business Applications

(OBAs) built on the Microsoft Office Business Application framework, are a great way to extend your Line of Business (LOB) applications so you can capture critical information that lives in spreadsheets and work offline without missing a beat.

Would you like to…

  • Use Excel with Prolog and other AEC Industry applications?
  • Utilize standard forms everyone already understands?
  • Update information in minutes vs. hours?
  • Work online or offline from anywhere anytime?
  • Stop mapping fields and supporting import/export issues?

A common example of using OBAs in the AEC Industry is with Prolog (a construction project management application).  Users can work in Microsoft Excel to manage information related to submittals, punch list, and most other feature.  Using an OBA based on Excel, you can use our standard forms or base them on yours.  While OBAs work great with Prolog, OBAs can be used with any application that has web services.

The OBA Store is the online source for Microsoft Office Business Applications (OBAs).  We have standard OBAs for most features supported by Prolog and are always looking to build them for other Line of Business applications based on client demand and Vendors opening up their web service technologies.  Get a free account to access and browse to the largest catalog of OBAs for the AEC Industry!

Sign Up Here or Login Here if you already have an account.

The OBA Cloud is the online source for hosting Microsoft Office Business Applications (OBAs).  When combined with The OBA Store there’s simply no better way to buy, manage, and deploy your OBAs.

 

Continue reading the full article on our website, here

 

Give us a call today and let us help guide your business to the “Cloud”.

212-505-0381

Email us here: sales@aeccloud.com

Copyright © 2001-2014 AEC Cloud, The Cram Group, LLC

 

AEC Industry Cloud: Viewpoint Collaborate

Visit Us! Collaborate 2014 | Viewpoint User Conference

We will be in the Exhibitor Hall, Booth #402.

Stop by and let’s see how we can save on your IT bottom line.

Serving the AEC Industry cloud hosting needs for over 15 years!

 

Collaborate 2014 | Viewpoint User Conference

Portland, Oregon
September 22-25, 2014
Log in to Vantage Point for more information.

– See more at: http://viewpoint.com/community/events#sthash.XwbSAmbU.dpuf

Give us a call today and let us help guide your business to the “Cloud”.

212-505-0381

Email us here: sales@aeccloud.com

AEC Industry Cloud Transition Cost Management: Part 4/7 09-03-14

AEC Industry Cloud Transition Cost Management: Part 4/7, Evaluating Cloud IT Costs

Moving on, most “Cloud” vendors present their pricing in monthly increments.  They also generally classify their offerings as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) which come from the NIST Cloud Definition.

Once you digest that, you can see this fits very nicely in line with all the legwork we already did in the first 3 parts of this series.

From here it’s just an exercise of getting the information from Vendors you are considering and plugging it into your Cost Model Matrix.

Below are 3 examples based on a make believe Project Management application.  These will help you understand how to classify an offering as you will typically run across them in the market. It does not matter whether is is Accounting, BIM, etc…the same applies across the board.

Continue reading the full article on our website, here

Or read the entire series on “Cloud Transition Cost Management” here

Give us a call today and let us help guide your business to the “Cloud”.

212-505-0381

Email us here: sales@aeccloud.com