Tag Archives: Cloud

Down Side of the Cloud

30 Apr

In a previous post, the idea of the Cloud Office was introduced.  In this, the second of our three posts regarding Cloud Computing , we will take a closer look at the potential pitfalls of having your information stored not on a local drive, but in the vast expanse of the Cloud.

Cons:

  • Limited Customization – The entity hosting your information may have a standardized way of organizing your information / folder structures, and it may not be YOUR way.No Cloud
  • The host controls your data – You are at the mercy of the host as it relates to scheduled backups and security updates.  While we’ve all hit the “Install Updates Later” button on our local PC’s, the host may run updates and backups when it is convenient for THEM, not necessarily for YOU.  This may be especially true if the host is overseas or in a substantially different time zone.
  • If the power goes out for some reason, snowstorm, earthquake, lightning strike, you may be able to continue working if your information is on a local server/LAN.  If you rely on the internet to access your information, and the internet is offline for some period of time, your data may be inaccessible.
  • The “Cloud Office” may not be viable for rural companies with limited internet options or smaller bandwidth capabilities.
  • If your company’s internet connection does not support a Bandwidth supportive of your company’s needs, there may be complications, including but not limited to
    • Latency or lag time accessing information (slow response time)
    • May be impractical for uploading/downloading larger files
  • If the host company goes out of business, your data may be lost if there is no plan of action to transfer that data to another company or to your company to look for a new host.
  • Some business owners/operators may cringe at the notion that sensitive data, perhaps including trade secrets or confidential documents, are not locked up on company premises but are floating somewhere in a cloud.  There have been cases where online hosting services have lost supposedly secure data.
  • Some users may wonder about compatibility and security, especially when sharing files with other companies and whether cloud solutions really have as many features and functions as on-premises programs such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel.  For example, an Excel power user who has built a lot of macros and has a high number of cells with built in complicated formulas will find a drop-off in the functionality of those complex macros when switching to cloud-based spreadsheets.
  • Integrating cloud-based products with a company’s industry-specific programs/applications may prove problematic, but the expectation by “Cloud” supporters is that applications of all kinds (industry specific and ‘generic’ programs alike) will migrate to the cloud in the future, as vendors focus on how to make them work seamlessly together.
  • Adoption and training of employees who may be resistant to change and insist on doing things the ‘old way’, such as emailing the file back and forth continually revising the naming convention rather than communally collaborating on a file. Part of this would involve changing the processes and work flows that have been in place for many a year.  Working on the same file simultaneously — a much more efficient and effective way to collaborate – is one of the main benefits of the “Cloud”.

The future third installment will focus on the plus side of the Cloud features

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What is the “Cloud”?

9 Apr

What is an office?

The dictionary describes an office as “a room, set of rooms, or building where the business of a commercial or industrial organization or of a professional person is conducted.” While this may be true, in today’s global environment, an office can be anywhere, anything (building, cubicle, taxi cab or coffee shop) and at any time.

In the past, and currently as well, employees report to a centralized location to perform their responsibilities. At this place, this office, are the required items –conference rooms, printers, computers, phones, whiteboards, desks, tables, etc. – each employee needs to perform their daily tasks.

But what if your employees were not tied to a centralized office? What if your employees could work from anywhere, anytime, and with little to no loss of productivity? What if the files, software and databases your employees needed to access were always at their fingertips, anywhere, any time? What if meetings were not required to be done in a large room, but through laptops, tablets and cell phones. It sounds rather futuristic doesn’t it? That future is the “Cloud”. That future is NOW.

What is the “Cloud”?

Cloud Computing

The “Cloud” is an IT term for the Internet. More particularly (and more techno-jargon specifically) the “Cloud” is an ‘Internet-based computing in which large groups of remote servers are networked so as to allow sharing of data-processing tasks, centralized data storage, and online access to computer services or resources.’

“Cloud Computing” or “Cloud Integration” means storing and accessing your data and software via the Internet, rather than running it on your office workstation or office server. If you use programs such as ‘Gmail’ or ‘Google docs’, you may not realize it, but you are already using the “Cloud”.

So what does the “Cloud” have to do with the office?

The concept of the “Cloud” or virtual office is not a new one, but has quickly gained ground of late. With the introduction of the newest version of Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps, moving the business office to a virtual format has never been easier.  While some businesses have been early adopters of the “Cloud” office model, others are resistant, stating most often, ‘ We’ve always done business this way (brick and mortar), there’s no reason to change.’ This is a valid argument, but just for the sake of a differing viewpoint, what are the main challenges, benefits and drawbacks of a decentralized office? In upcoming articles, this will be explored at great length.

So, with all things being equal, if your software and databases and files were all at your fingertips via your internal network or the “Cloud”, let me ask you…would you rather perform your daily tasks from the conventional office or from the coffee shop around the corner, the cushy softness of your couch, or even the beach?

Apps Everywhere

18 Sep

Hundreds of thousands of apps exist today. There are apps that can do everything from convert metric measurement to standard measurement, game apps, and punch lists for contractors to perform closeouts. So where to plotters fit into the mix?

KIP America has been the leading innovator in wide format printing for decades. They have historically been a step ahead of what the market bears year after year with incorporating useful technological advancements into their KIP wide format plotter lineup. This statement has held true right into the digital age. When plotters started incorporating hard drives to increase processing times, KIP was on board. When the user determined accessing the user network at the plotter would increase productivity, KIP added the PC, later upgrading it to the touchscreen. When apps flooded the world, KIP invested once again. Now, the first few apps set to work with KIP print engines have been inserted into the marketplace.

Cloud Apps. Email copied/scanned documents to anyone anywhere in the world. Conversely, email to your KIP the documents you need printed.

Web-based Apps. The most robust batch submittal, file viewing, print management tool on the market, completely accessible from—you guessed it—the internet.

iPad Apps. KIP even has an app for the iPad. Connect as many as 5 KIP plotters with this app and use it to view, scale, and submit prints and view and manage print queues.

Visit BPI’s website to learn more about any of the new KIP apps.

Under the Hood

30 Aug

Under the hood of Online Planrooms and Digital Document Management – First in a Series

  • Where do I start with selecting a Digital Document Management System / Online Planroom?
  • How do I get the right information for a project to the right people quickly?
  • How do I handle the bidding phase of your project?
  • How can I win more bids and/or track my project?
  • Are my project documents secure and available 24/7 online?
  • Do I have the right addenda or revision and how can I track this?

These are a few questions you will ask yourself when considering the adoption of a digital document management system or online planroom.

Which phase of the project? There are numerous solutions available to provide online document management through the different stages of a project.  Each application has its strengths and weaknesses. Some products focus on only the bidding phase of the project life cycle while others incorporate multiple stages allowing you to utilize the same software throughout the entire project.

Typically, an online planroom is utilized during the bidding phase and then the General Contractor is responsible for managing the construction bulletins and other information during construction.  Why switch document management solutions in the middle of the project, when you can continue to use the same solution through closeout?

Reviewing your internal process and creating an internal standard of utilizing an online document management solution allows you to become more efficient, along with the consultants and contractors you deal with on a daily basis. Furthermore, your process will become more efficient, subsequently lowering your costs.  At the end of construction, when utilizing an online document management system, you are able to track the project from start to finish allowing all the information to be handed off to the facility maintenance team.

Online Document Management Model: Online document management systems are delivered in a couple different models, such as SaaS (Software as a Service) model, cloud based model, or a solution which requires investing in internal IT infrastructure to operate the document management system. The SaaS model has been increasing in popularity recently with the push of the “Cloud”. The SaaS model allows you to shift some of the responsibilities and costs, such as hosting and maintaining the online document management system, to the solution partner.  During these hard economic times, companies are turning towards SaaS solutions to alleviate administrative labor related to plan distribution and information tracking, allowing them to focus on other aspects of the project.

How can BPI Help? At BPI we make every effort to stay on the cutting edge of technology and offer you the best solutions available in the industry. If you have questions on selecting the right online document management system.  Let us know and we can help analyze your needs.

Be sure to check back soon for more information on selecting an Online Document Management System that is right for you.

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