BIM Projects in the Cloud? High Risk or High reward
Feb 15, 2023
Cloud-based technology offers a lot of benefits. However, there are potential downsides you should be aware of. This post discusses honest pros and cons of cloud-based solutions for construction. We largely conclude that the benefits far outweighs the potential downsides. Decide for yourself!
Pro # 1 Accessibility
Web based cloud solutions require no downloads or updates. Might sound trivial, but if you think about how many tedious steps and roadblocks you meet when downloading heavy construction software, it is a huge selling point. No more updates, downloads, or annoying licensing work.
Unable to access your work computer? No problem, just log on your private computer via browser and everything is good to go.
Pro #2 Collaboration
Locally stored software radically decreases your ability to collaborate with others. Cloud-based solutions on the other hand, facilitate collaboration and information flow among stakeholders. Resulting in fewer misunderstandings, less duplicated work and ultimately saved costs.
Pro #3 Scalability
Cloud-based solutions can easily be scaled up or down as needed, and thereby making it easier to accommodate changes in project scope and size. Often, licenses are distributed as “seats”. Meaning, they can be passed freely around to the ones in current need of the solution, resulting in saved costs. And guess what? Each time you pass a license, there are no downloads needed to for the current stakeholder!
Pro #4 Cost Savings
Cloud solutions will reduce your need for expensive hardware and IT infrastructure, i.e. servers, storage devices and networking equipment. Instead, you pay for the infrastructure hosted in the cloud provider’s data center via internet.
Pro #5 Centralized Data Storage
Cloud-based solutions provide a centralized storage location for projects, resulting in better access and analysis of data. This fundamentally changes the company’s possibility to make data-driven decisions. In other words, a huge competitive advantage.
Con #1 Requires Internet Connection
The most obvious downside to cloud-based solutions is the need for a constant internet connection. Luckily, most modern countries have sufficient internet connectivity, and it is rarely a problem. However, if you struggle with you connection you simply will not get your work done. This can be especially challenging when working at remote construction sites. Comes without saying, nearly every construction job requires a steady internet connection.
Con #2 Security Risks
If the data is not properly protected it might propose a security risk. When all data flows through the internet, the possibility of data leakages increase. It is therefore important, that both the software company and the construction company have sufficient security procedures to protect their sensitive data. When done correctly, it is just as secure as any other information flow. In any case, as a baseline, it is the software company’s responsibility to ensure sufficient technical data security.
Con #3 Technical Challenges
Cloud-based solutions might have unexpected downtime, which can disrupt the flow of data for construction projects. If the downtime is significant, this can propose some serious consequences. During downtime, there may also be data losses, resulting in setbacks.
Con #4 Integration Difficulties
Construction is an integrated process with high complexity. Integrating a new cloud solution to existing data flow might be a challenge. Especially for larger contractors. However, it is in most cases fully solvable.