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Is it safe for your construction company to jump into the cloud?

Posted: September 8, 2016

The cloud enables real time collaboration in the field
The cloud enables real time collaboration in the field

We know companies are struggling with the decision to move their business resources to the cloud. This is partially due to a reluctance to give up control. They are missing out on improved productivity, seamless upgrades, and convenience that come from the cloud. Security and privacy are also holding some back. Why? Online banking, bill paying, and email access are business as usual in the 21st century. It’s time to see the silver lining of the cloud. Gain access from virtually anywhere. Do you use Gmail, Yahoo mail, iCloud or Hotmail? Have you ever not been able to access your email via a browser, phone or email client? That is the power of having your data in the cloud. You can connect from a Starbucks, a friend’s house, the library, a customer, on a cruise ship – wherever you have an internet connection.

How often have you had to deal with product and security updates to Windows or Linux servers? Automatic updates for cloud products happen seamlessly. You don’t have to download and install the latest version or security patch. All you have to do is log in. IT ticket or support help are not needed.

Disaster recovery is handled behind the scenes. Your cloud vendor has hourly backup and replication. Google mail currently has 1-billion monthly users. That’s because their infrastructure is bulletproof after years of building a robust network with backup servers in various parts of the U.S. Even if your office has a fire (as ours did), your data is safe in the cloud. Cloud platforms are much more focused on security than traditional systems. Security in the cloud is principally controlled by encrypting data during transfer and storage. The physical location of your data matters far less than the means of access.

Please join me in clearing up some clouded perceptions in the industry.

Cloud computing is no longer smoke and mirrors

By Don Hobson, former VP of Engineering, On Center Software, Part Two, October 21, 2016

Small- to medium-size companies have the most to gain from converting to the cloud. Today, 36 percent of construction companies have moved to cloud computing, nearly 47 percent believe the cloud will deliver better performance, according to On Center Software’s 2016 Industry Trends study. Here are the key reasons construction companies can benefit from the cloud:

Seamless disaster recovery. Cloud providers have hourly backup and replication. Server farms are in two or more parts of the U.S. If your office is hit by a hurricane, or as ours was, a fire, your data is safe in the cloud. Your employees are able to log in from home or the construction site as if nothing happened. You will see a decrease in power usage, IT support, maintenance, rack space, new hardware, and never-ending upgrades.

Collaboration is easy in the cloud. The ability to save and access various files through the cloud enables employees in the office, and on the building site to work on the same plans. Cloud collaboration tools, such as Google Drive, allow team members to upload, edit and comment on documents, which makes for fast, accurate collaboration. With cloud computing, you can access project files and plan revisions from any device, smartphone, laptop or tablet. No longer are files stuck on a single server back at the office.

What’s more, increased mobility and flexibility in the cloud can lead to additional cost savings. Your company can allow employees to work on devices they own and are well-trained on. You save the cost of supplying company laptops and training. You incur no extra costs for onsite cyber security. Security in the cloud is controlled by encrypting data during transfer and storage.

You can integrate specialized software for construction with payroll, project management, and accounting. You no longer have to buy an expensive enterprise package of software when you only use a few applications. .

With all the benefits, why aren’t more companies moving to the cloud?

Most CIOs and VPs of IT don’t move to the cloud because they don’t have time to absorb the transition, they know it will take longer than expected and they are already six months or more behind on what they are working on.

The decision to move your IT infrastructure or applications should be handled like everything else you do. What is the business case? What is the ROI? How much will it cost and how long will it take?

If the team decides to move forward, then the allocation of the right amount of time, building a team and executing will fall in place. In the end, it will save the company a lot of time and money, you just have to spend some time and money up front and that is usually a luxury that most companies don’t have.

You can make the transition now or later because the cloud is here to stay and eventually everyone will move to the cloud.

Don Hobson, former VP of Engineering
Don Hobson, former VP of Engineering

Don Hobson was vice president of engineering at On Center Software (until Nov. 2016, when he accepted an executive position with a Fortune 500 company). Hopson led R&D and a globally-distributed engineering team that delivers innovative, cloud-based applications while enhancing current software solutions. He most recently was Director of Global Support and Services at ITinvolve and held management positions at BMC Software and NetIQ. Don received a degree in Computer Science from Prairie View A&M University and is pursuing an MBA from Rice University.

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