As part of my work, helping AEC firms adapt to technology change, I am often asked about "The Cloud". First, let us start with a definition:
"Cloud computing is the use computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet)". (Wikipedia).
Often professionals say "I will never have my work 'in the cloud'". First, never is a long time, and technology is ever-changing. The AEC industry moved from hand drawn drawings in the 1990's and many firms moved to Building Information Modeling in the past decade. Technology marches on.
What are the business benefits of a move to the cloud for designs/documentation, etc.
- Information can be obtained while at client offices, jobsites, work from home.
- Computer intensive activities (rendering, computation, simulations) can be done 'in the cloud' while design/documentation work can continue to be done (freeing up computer resources and productive time).
- Maintain a 99+% uptime of information accessibility.
Here are the perceived cons of cloud computing:
- My client will not allow it.
- This is the reason I hear the most. If this is correct, a conversation with the client is necessary to explain the limitation the restriction plays.
- I fear my work being stolen by the cloud host (usually Microsoft, Amazon, or Google).
- This seems unlikely. The amount of data passing through the cloud service providers is so huge, it is unlikely that any one file is reviewed.
- Data being collected by the cloud host.
- This is the most logical. Google has always gathered information about your web-search activities. So, is it possible that data collection might be done to determine if your project has the word "masonry" in it - yes - but should you be concerned?
Projects require the ability to be nimble and agile - fast moving and democratized in the access to project information + data. That is the hallmark of 'cloud' services.
Cloud services are here to stay, and will grow in usage and functionality. "Staying on the sidelines" is not a viable option for long.
David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com). David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation. @dhaynestech