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Cloud Computing

Top 5 Benefits of a Cloud Deployment for your MEP Business
Viewpoint recently announced their MEP Estimating solution is now available in the cloud, providing users a worry-free IT experience that is configured, managed and supported by Viewpoint. For more information, please visit MEP Estimating.

Why would a business choose a cloud deployment?
A cloud deployment brings MEP contractors a convenient, affordable and on-demand infrastructure as an alternative to having to configure, optimize and back-up in-house software applications. Leveraging a cloud platform gives MEP contractors several distinct advantages including smaller expenditures for IT resources, hardware and maintenance. Additionally, with a cloud deployment, multiple users can access and update their data without purchasing licenses for different applications.

Here are 5 ways a cloud deployment can benefit your MEP business:

1. Ease of Use – Though often overlooked, this is “easily” the most powerful benefit. The cloud’s true
potential is to provide more than a web-based version of an application— its true potential is the ability to host ALL applications, and make them as easily accessible to the end user as if sitting in their office.

2. Cost savings – Most software vendors operate on a subscription basis, charging monthly, quarterly, or annually for their services, so expenditure on software, hosting and support is more predictable. With less investment in hardware, there is less depreciation of company assets and immediate expensing of operational costs.

3. Increased Flexibility – New software can be implemented more quickly, with training and ongoing support delivered on demand. Little or no capital outlay is required for new hardware or software, as access is usually via a standard internet browser. Pay-as-you-go services can be turned on and off quickly, and processing power, memory, and bandwidth, can be scaled up or down as needed.

4. Improved Reliability and Security – Software services are provided 24/7 from highly resilient data centers with security, back-up, and secondary systems that would be difficult even for the largest corporates to replicate. Cloud storage offers better disaster recovery, with automatic back-up and improved security.

5. Lower Risk Transfer – Responsibility for ensuring constant availability of data to a project team is transferred to a specialist third party. This third party is less likely to become embroiled in any construction disputes which may arise between the construction businesses, providing higher levels of neutrality and trust.

 

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You’ve heard the buzz, but are you in the know? Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been discussed, analyzed and debated in the construction industry for years now. The analysis and discussion are turning into action and the adoption of BIM is growing. First architects and engineers, and now increasingly contractors, are adopting BIM to reduce risk and increase margins. There are signs that owners are also realizing benefits from BIM and that operations and maintenance, which are responsible for about 80 percent of a building’s lifetime cost, may be the part of the lifecycle of a building where BIM provides the largest benefits.

As you know during the construction process there are a series of complicated processes that involve considerable input from multiple parties. If there isn’t a standard process or tool that can be used by everyone, workflow cycle times increase, significant re-work may be necessary and project costs can escalate. Common issues all contractors may face any given day include, “Am I working from the latest model?”, “No one told me I was supposed to fix that,” “I can’t send it by email, the file is too big” or “my computer can’t open that file format.”

Clearly, the successful completion of construction projects relies on clear communication and having everyone bring the necessary project data together quickly and accurately. To do that tools are needed to foster and support multiple channels of communication, open collaboration, and provide easy access to a platform that makes data available to the right people, at the right time.

Viewpoint continues to be at the forefront of offering technologies that provide increased value and the tools contractors need to remain competitive. And we recognize the power of BIM and that is why we now offer BIM Manager to the North American market. BIM Manager helps address the questions and concerns listed above, by offering a collaborative environment and a single place where everyone can access the data they need without significant training or specialized software. To learn more about how BIM can help your organization, please click here.

IFC models can be federated, explored and collaborated around in the BIM Manager web viewer.  The model remains segregated so that each object can be traced back to its origin. IFC models can be federated, explored and collaborated around in the BIM Manager web viewer. The model remains segregated so that each object can be traced back to its origin.

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Software Advice spoke to thousands of buyers evaluating new construction software. Below is a report sharing key data from these interactions, shedding light into what criteria buyers are using to make purchasing decisions.

Key Findings indicate:

– The primary reason buyers evaluate construction software is to increase efficiency.
Project management and estimating are the most-requested applications.
– A vast majority of buyers (78 percent) don’t have a deployment preference, but among those who do, 62 percent prefer Cloud-based applications to on-premise solutions.

If you or your organization is currently evaluating new construction software, how does your criteria line up with findings in their report?  Are you evaluating cloud-based solutions?

 

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Viewpoint booth at World of Concrete, 2014I was recently reading the 2014 Market Survey completed by FMI Corporation and while a lot of the survey confirmed most of what we already knew, aging population is driving healthcare cost and in 2014 we will see a rise in the economy with cautious optimism, it also emphasized the need for contractors to strategize more than ever on how they can build a competitive edge. That is more than just looking at how to win bids, but rather how the business is going to drive profitability with each project, often by looking at organic growth through joint ventures, P3s and acquisitions.

With many of the industry’s largest tradeshow events like World of Concrete and ConExpo, taking place during the first part of the year, these events become a mecca for new products and technologies built specifically to help contractors stay competitive and increase profits among other initiatives. In fact, many of the exhibiting organizations use these events to launch new products and services for contractors. We were no different, as we launched our BIM Manager App for the Viewpoint For Project Collaboration solution at World of Concrete this past week. It was exciting to discover that this exceptional collaboration product was of great interest to most of the contractors that visited our booth.

World of Concrete 2014I was fortunate to attend World of Concrete despite the speculation going into this year’s event , that it would be sparsely attended compared to years past due to the fact that ConExpo, an event that only occurs every three years, is approaching in March and contractors may choose to attend that event instead. To add to the possible attendance woes, the eastern part of the country was experiencing a snow storm impeding travel all over the country. Speculations were valid, but glad to see that this ended up not being the case! After all, who wouldn’t want to get away from the cold weather and head to sunny and somewhat warm Vegas for the week! One area of the world that really seems to get the concept of organic growth through P3 partnership is Canada and we were excited to see so many of our Canadian contractors at the show. The major trend that we saw is that contractors are really looking at best of breed technology that can solve their specific needs, while having the ability to integrate to other best of breed technology already in place. World of Concrete 2014This means looking at standalone applications like Enterprise Content Management, Mobile Field Applications and Project Collaboration. As contractors look at their business and determine their initiatives for the year, they begin to evaluate whether core technology, such as accounting, will get them where they ultimately want to go. A lot of the contractors that I had the opportunity to speak with were less concerned about today, but rather more concerned about tomorrow and how their systems are going to be able to handle serving their long term needs. I’m noticing that as more contractors heed the advice of organizations like FMI and strive to stay competitive through joint ventures and partnerships, technologies like project collaboration become even more important.

Overall, it was a great show and exemplifies that 2014 will be a year where contractors will be working smarter to gain profitability.
Learn more on how Viewpoint can help at www.viewpointcs.com/solutions.

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When Viewpoint first went to market with a cloud solution, we spent a lot of time talking with our customers to really figure out what their needs were. What we found, was that a majority of our customers were not only maintaining their own Viewpoint servers, but a myriad of other servers – from file servers to other line of business applications such as estimating and scheduling software. Most of these applications also needed to be integrated with their ERP software solution as well.

The burden of IT management

The problem we started seeing was that the IT infrastructures of construction companies were becoming more and more complicated. The amount of time used to keep these infrastructures up and running was increasing exponentially on an annual basis. On top of that, our customers wanted to keep adding new technology to streamline business workflows and processes, adding to the list of issues. Accumulating additional computing resources makes things even more problematical and difficult to manage, especially with limited IT resources or utilizing a third party vendor to maintain these systems. The bottom line is that this complicated management set-up starts to get very expensive to keep systems up and running. Additionally, companies can become vulnerable if IT personnel quit, a server crashes, or a natural disaster occurs. What most companies don’t realize is the amount of time and resources it takes to do a complete restore from back-ups. This can take days or weeks. The question contractors should be asking themselves is how long can I afford to be down? What would even two days cost us if we didn’t have access to our critical data systems?

Think beyond traditional IT

Traditional IT is expensive and not scalable. Every time you purchase a new piece of hardware you have to configure it, secure it, manage it, back it up, and keep it up and running. In three to four years that hardware runs out of warranty and you’ll be starting the whole process over again. The cost savings potential with the cloud is huge – eliminating capital and operational expenses associated with servers, software licenses, and maintenance fees. Thanks to the cloud, construction companies won’t be stuck with obsolete legacy systems and outdated hardware. It’s elastic. Unlike many technological advancements cloud computing can provide a quick dramatic return with limited investment.

What to look for

A cloud provider that just hosts your ERP software alone will not resolve the myriad of IT issues you’re bound to experience. You need a cloud solution that’s not only scalable, but offers a solution to all your IT issues.

Look for a true cloud platform – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), where a business will use the hosted environment as a logical extension of the on-premises datacenter. The servers are rented on an as-needed basis, and the IT professionals who manage the infrastructure have full control of the software configuration, allowing flexibility in hardware configuration.

A cloud service like this removes your responsibility for maintaining expensive infrastructures, providing the freedom to concentrate on the technology. It gives you the peace-of-mind that the cloud provider will maintain uptime no matter what and you’ll have the opportunity to truly take advantage of the technology you own. Your IT department can now focus on helping the company become more profitable by concentrating on creating new workflows and business processes using the technology you were previously simply maintaining. After all, isn’t this is why the software was purchased in the first place? A good cloud service provider should offer the following:

  • Backups- All data is replicated across 3 distinct data centers
  • Security- A SAS type II data center, the highest level available, using the latest antivirus, intrusion detection, and firewall technology all data is encrypted to and from the data center
  • Updates- All updates managed and installed, upgrades, and security patches for any application hosted in the cloud
  • Availability- A 100% uptime guarantee
  • Support- Guaranteed 24×7 support
  • Mobility- Ability to use unlimited devices per user, laptops, desktops, smart phones, tablets, ipads, Work anywhere anytime from any device
  • Continuity- Even if your office building is destroyed you’ll be up and running no matter what

Thanks to the cloud, construction companies won’t be stuck with obsolete legacy systems and outdated hardware. As mentioned earlier, it’s elastic. Unlike many other technological advancements, cloud computing can provide a quick, dramatic return with limited investment.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Abram Holmlund, Cloud Sales Manager, at 971-255-5312 or abram.holmlund@viewpointcs.com.

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