Money Matters

Blending cloud and on-premises computing

There is little doubt that cloud computing has reshaped the construction industry. Many contractors I know are now using mobile devices in the field to access customer and job details, submit time sheets, and share information. Entire building teams collaborate on projects like never before by using cloud-based platforms. And change management details are captured at the job site through the use of cloud computing mobile apps.

While the industry is increasing its adoption of cloud-computing, many contractors are still not ready to move 100 percent to the cloud. Some construction companies prefer to keep sensitive, proprietary information “on-premises” within their own corporate walls. Others may want to move everything to the cloud, but need to keep a portion of their IT system on-premises until they’re ready to make the transition.

The good news is the cloud doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. As I mentioned in my previous post “Four cloud-computing trends that will impact construction in 2017,” the blending of on-premises systems, public cloud solutions, and private cloud services (also called hybrid cloud computing) will continue to gain momentum. Let’s look at two examples:

Extension of on-premises software into the mobile environment

In the coming year, you’ll see even more on-premises software becoming web-and mobile-enabled. This will allow you to provide greater authorized access to backend accounting and other important information without putting the data directly into the cloud. Essentially, you keep your on-premises software and data on your own machines or in a data center. Cloud technology, in this case, is used more as a secure “browser” or gateway into your backend systems to provide the mobile access your company needs.

Integration of on-premises and cloud-based SaaS apps

Another growing hybrid cloud trend is the linking of on-premises and cloud-based software. This allows you to keep very sensitive information more secure while taking advantage of public cloud efficiencies where it makes the most sense. For example, the largest adoption of cloud construction software has been for use in the field. These mobile Software as a Service apps, however, can go only so far if project managers and superintendents can’t access cost, contract, and other information typically stored in a company’s backend systems. Moving forward, contractors will find more options available to them where information passes easily between on-premises systems and cloud-based SaaS apps.

In construction, cloud computing is entering a new stage of innovation and application. It will be exciting to see how contractors will put that innovation to use to drive business results.