The quantity and quality of cloud offerings have grown significantly in the last few years. There are a number of new solutions available to AEC firms that are especially worth taking a look at. We’ll look at a few of the top cloud solutions in this article.
The AEC industry faces incredible growth and changes in urbanization and globalization. As traditional data centers become insufficient to meet these demands, so does the demand for security and efficiency. Trends such as hyper-automation, the distributed cloud, and practical blockchain are just some of the trends that will continue to proliferate into 2020. Each one of them has the ability to transform and optimize initiatives. The AEC sector has done a good job of keeping up to date. More than 2/3 of AEC firms store data in the cloud. The reason: cloud solutions are an important ingredient to maximizing workflow, costs, and sustainability.
Cloud storage, for instance, can be a more cost-effective alternative to spending thousands on upgrading your local IT. Cloud computing has become increasingly popular for a number of reasons: it’s more affordable, able to perform computationally intensive work, workspace flexibility, and more secure.
Also, there is the added advantage that, with cloud-based computing, it’s possible to view and work with complex renderings on an underpowered device.
Scalability is also easier in the cloud. Most providers allow for scalable, on-demand resource usage. This enables your company to have more computing power when it’s needed.
Cloud storage providers enable benefits that are impossible to duplicate. A Cisco report suggested, “By 2021, 94 percent of workloads and compute instances will be processed by cloud data centers.”
Firms that have moved to the cloud have an edge over the competition. With that in mind, let’s take look at what kind of cloud services are available. Let’s also consider how each one benefits an AEC firm.
1 – Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is a great solution because it is simple and offers several important benefits.
First, cloud storage providers backup your data. Cloud storage companies will often have servers in two different parts of the world. One server might be on the West Coast of the United States. The other server might be on the East Coast so that even the largest disaster won’t wipe out your files.
Files stored on the cloud can be accessed from anywhere. Whether your crew is working 10 or 1,000 miles away they’ll have easy access to everything stored online. It’s also simple to set permission levels on various files. For example, an administrator can dictate that renderings can be viewed at the job site but only edited in the office.
2- Cloud Storage Gateways
Cloud storage gateways can help to reduce costs in a number of ways. Data compression reduces bandwidth which enables increased storage. These cloud storage gateways can make smart decisions about where to save files. Files that accessed frequently) are called “hot files.” Hot files can be more expensive to store online. A gateway may keep them in local storage while storing more infrequently used files in the cloud.
Panzura has a cloud-based version designed to create a shared environment for everyone to work in. With Panzura users can store CAD and BIM files online and open them in a matter of seconds, not minutes. All files can be accessed from any location making collaboration easier. Panzura claims to “reduce infrastructure costs up to 70%,” over traditional data centers.
Another of Panzura’s interesting features is the work-sharing monitor. Work-sharing allows for remote viewing of another Panzura user’s workstation. As with other cloud-based solutions, Panzura can scale as your firm grows.
3 – Cloud-Based Accounting and Management Applications
Running your firm’s accounting and management applications in the cloud simplifies workflow. Collaboration is fluid when everyone at the company has access to the files. Accessibility to files while at the office, at home, or at a hotel room on the other side of the country.
The cloud enables collaborators to work in real-time. Different permission models can be set for different users. It is also easier to collaborate with suppliers, distributors, and contractors. Since the files and data are already online it’s simple to give outside parties access. That’s opposed to localized data which is more difficult to share.
Deltek is a cloud-based solution to track projects. Project steps can be broad or detailed. Deltek tracks billable hours, resource usage, and expenses. If your firm uses different programs for different purposes, it may be time to consolidate.
While localized programs have offered project tracking for years. Deltek makes collaboration easier for the whole team. Everyone from accounting to the drafting team has access to the same program. The functionality is the same whether they’re on a $5,000 workstation or a $200 smartphone.
4 – Internet of Things (IoT)
The number of Internet-connected devices is growing at an exponential rate. As microchips and transmitters are becoming more affordable, more applications and innovations are being introduced onto the market. This means more tools for the AEC industry to track and improve efficiency.
Internet-connected GPS devices, for instance, are great at tracking fleet mileage. They can also make recommendations about necessary vehicle maintenance. There is a Bluetooth tag that attaches to a piece of equipment making it easy to locate on a crowded job site. The tag also helps recover lost tools.
5 – Hosted Desktops
Hosted desktops transform computers into more powerful workstations without having to purchase expensive PC hardware.
A hosted desktop is ideal for AEC firms running multiple AutoCAD workstations. Scaling is also a breeze as hosted desktops can increase their resources to handle any task.
A hosted desktop transforms cheap laptop or tablet devices into a powerful workstation. The kind of devices that can launch power-hungry programs and model complex drawings. That makes it great for the crew out in the field who don’t normally have access to powerful computers.
IronOrbit INFINITY: The All-in-One Solution
In a 2017 article entitled 7 Reasons Why AEC Firms Need Cloud Software, Eliza Fisher points out “cloud-based platforms are more appealing than hosting project management software because they do not require users to rely on their own computing power. There are quite a few other benefits to consider if you’re thinking of adopting a cloud solution for your AEC firm.” The article goes on to list the following benefits:
- Safety & Data Loss Prevention
- Easy Installation & Maintenance
- Remote Access
- Streamlined Work
- Insights, Audits, & Compliance
While it’s true that moving to the cloud will have positive impact on the way you do business, it’s important to shop around for the service provider that best fits your company’s future strategy. Keep in mind, not all clouds are created equal. Cloud-based products like our INFINITY Workspaces offer tremendous functionality and flexibility.
Our GPU-Accelerated INFINITY Workspaces combine the best features of cloud-based solutions into one place, including:
- Hosted desktops
- Cloud storage (including Panzura integration)
- Application hosting (any application, including accounting and ERP software)
- Unlimited computing, upgrades, and bandwidth
- Managed backups and disaster recovery
- Managed security and compliance
- 24/7 US-based IT support
The GPU-Accelerated INFINITY Workspaces allow access to CPU and graphics-intensive applications from anywhere and on any device. End-users will enjoy the fast uptimes, zero latency, and incredibly fast performance..
With unlimited CPU and RAM upgrades you never have to be concerned that you’ll run out of processing power and collaboration is easy when your whole team is working in a centralized environment.
Centralization allows the team to work with the same version software. The whole team uses the same application and work from the same set of files. There’s no longer the concern that employees are accessing different versions.
Inconsistent files can cause delays, accidents, compliance violations and more. Having the team working from the same set of files is a considerable benefit.
Then there’s the convenience of dealing with one vendor. Forget about tracking costs from multiple service providers. There’s no dealing with half a dozen account managers and support teams. IronOrbit gives you everything in one package so that you’ll only ever need to work with a single company.
An Easy-To-Manage and Future-Proof Solution, Too
Speaking of the all-in-one package, IronOrbit wants to make cloud management as simple as possible. They take care of setup, backups, application security as well as user support.
Other cloud solutions require the client to do a number of things. They have to set up the service. Integrate the service with existing infrastructure, and manage it on an ongoing basis. With IronOrbit these time-consuming processes are gone.
When considering a cloud service provider, it’s important to think about the future. IronOrbit is backed by today’s cutting-edge technology. It’s flexible enough to support any future technology growth.
IronOrbit is constantly upgrading its infrastructure. Their clients can take advantage of unlimited GPU and RAM; unlimited bandwidth, and unlimited upgrades to the latest versions of Windows and Microsoft Office.
Whatever devices and operating systems the future holds, IronOrbit’s GPU-Accelerated INFINITY Workspaces will be ready to support them and deliver the same level of service that you’d expect from a professional cloud-solution package. With INFINITY’s centralized, all-inclusive and convenient software you’re always in good hands.
In this age of acceleration, companies have 3 major objectives. They want to do more. They want to move faster. They want to do it at less cost.
To achieve all 3 objectives, a company has to ensure one thing. That there is alignment between their business objectives and their IT capabilities. Harmonizing clear objectives with IT capabilities, companies will realize their full potential. Not all companies are able to follow that path on their own. They may know they need to change, but don’t know how to get there.
If they do know how to get there, they don’t know who will manage the new environments. It’s more common now that company leadership won’t have a clue of what their future state should look like. Our primary job is to listen to the customer. We need to understand our client’s objectives and future-state desires. Then we analyze the requirements against IT capabilities. It has to be a solid yet flexible enough infrastructure that will support the future business goals. To the degree this harmony between goals and technology is in place, the intended transformations will happen.
It’s Time for an Upgrade
In the last couple of years, there have been a lot of exciting developments in the AEC-cloud-industry. From time and maintenance tracking to hosted desktops allowing users to render complex projects on their iPhones, the cloud has much to offer.
Not to mention savings, when you factor in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars you can save by not having to continuously upgrade your workstations.
If you haven’t looked into moving to the cloud yet there has never been a better time. The AEC industry is heading toward cloud computing faster than ever. No firm wants to play catch up to its competitors.