Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, the internet of things, digital twin, 3D printing, and other technolOgy advancements are transforming the construction industry.
In a recent survey, 76% of engineering and construction executives indicated that they are likely to invest in at least one digital technology in 2021.1 Does your company have a digital strategy to implement new technology now or in the future?
As more contractors are turning to technology to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, cloud technology has become a necessity. Even if a company is not ready to make the move to the cloud right now, it is imperative to at least have a plan for how to get there.
This article will examine different options for moving to the cloud, dispel common myths about cloud technology, highlight how cloud technology can help businesses maximize their technology investment, provide considerations for selecting a technology vendor, and offer steps businesses can take now to make their eventual move to the cloud easier.
“Moving to the cloud” does not refer to one set process, but rather any one of several options that will allow a business to migrate its on-premises solutions to the cloud, such as self-hosted private cloud, third-party hosting, software as a service (SaaS), and add-ons and mobile applications.
Self-Hosted Private Cloud
A private cloud solution option requires the most internal resources, so this may only be feasible for companies with an internal IT staff or trusted IT partner. In this option, all aspects of moving to the cloud – including updates, maintenance, security, and support – are managed by the company’s internal IT staff, providing a great deal of flexibility. With a high upfront investment to set up a private cloud, a contractor would also be responsible for costs associated with ongoing maintenance and upgrades.
A third-party hosting provider allows a company to continue using a solution that is intended to be deployed on premises, while also experiencing many of the benefits of a cloud solution. The hosting provider would manage the technology, including updates, maintenance, security, and support. This option has an initial upfront investment for moving the solution to the cloud as well as monthly or annual fees for the hosting service.
Software as a Service (Cloud Native)
In moving to cloud native, the SaaS solution provides the most modern and robust cloud option. All aspects of the technology – such as updates, maintenance, security, and support – are included with a software subscription. This option minimizes the upfront investment necessary to adopt a new solution, as a business would only incur the monthly software subscription cost and any necessary costs for data migration and software implementation.
Add-Ons & Mobile Apps
Companies that are not in a position to completely overhaul their current accounting solution can still reap some of the benefits of cloud technology. Making small changes to their current solution, such as add-ons and mobile apps that integrate with current on-premises solutions, can allow for remote work options. It is important for teams to consider when they might be ready to change their back-end accounting solution and whether they could still use those tools with a new solution.
Dispelling Common Cloud Myths
Many business owners like the idea of moving to the cloud but are held back by one or more frequently touted myths about cloud technology.
It’s Too Expensive
Cost is often cited by contractors as a barrier to moving to the cloud. In reality, cloud solutions bring great value and cost savings; gone are the days of high costs to manage servers and deploy expensive upgrades. The cloud removes the build and operate costs, and companies can now leverage the technology without the IT expense. Businesses can also benefit from a high return on investment and low total cost of ownership.
It’s Not Secure
Cybersecurity is a top concern for many businesses, and some worry that their data could be at increased risk in the cloud. However, hyperscale cloud providers can offer enterprise grade security, covering a business from all angles – physical, network, application, and data. Financial information is protected in a highly secure environment, as cloud providers work continuously to stop threats and upgrade protections so that contractors can focus on running their businesses.
It’s Too Slow
Businesses often believe that a cloud solution will be slower than an on-premises one; however, today’s remote data centers that support the cloud have scalable infrastructures and are connected by high-speed networks. Hyperfast network connectivity is making cloud performance comparable to, or even better than, traditional in-house networks.
It’s Not Reliable
Some businesses believe that their on-premises network infrastructure is more reliable than a cloud option. In reality though, they could be at risk of losing data in their current system if they are not backing up correctly and regularly.
Also, in the event of a natural disaster, businesses could suffer a major setback. Cloud options automatically back up data and provide peace of mind in disaster recovery protocols, proving to be the most reliable option in helping companies keep their mission-critical solutions up and running.
Maximizing Technology Investment
Many businesses are hesitant to make a technology change if they have already made a significant investment in an on-premises solution. However, there are several additional factors a company should consider to maximize its technology investment.
Hardware & Infrastructure
Businesses with in-house servers should consider their condition. If they are new, chances are that the current on-premises solution will have them covered for a while; however, those with older systems may need to buy new servers or a new operating system soon and should consider all options before making that investment. It may make more sense from a financial and performance perspective to move to the cloud instead.
Businesses that have in-house hardware or networks should consider all of the associated costs, which include the hardware purchases as well as maintenance and the cost of internal IT staff or an outsourced company to manage the solution. Adding the initial upfront fees – plus the ongoing monthly and annual fees – will provide a point of comparison when considering cloud solutions, which operate on a subscription basis and include maintenance, security, and support.