Sept/Oct 2014

Every time I hear something about how confusing and ambiguous the cloud is I chuckle because I know it is absolutely true—but it also causes a bit of concern for me. How long has the term ‘cloud’ been around and we still have a difficult time defining it?

A few years back at Christmas dinner was the first time the cloud came up in a personal setting—of course at the time I had already been discussing the topic for years in the workplace, due to the nature of writing about technology for the construction industry. My family somehow got on the topic of the cloud and the sheer lacking of understanding was quite interesting. Now, mind you, the demographic of individuals at the table weren’t necessarily IT professionals, but were executives in accounting and other fields.

One person thought the cloud had something to do with Amazon, right? Well yes, but not exclusively. Another person described it as when your data is stored in the ‘air’ (as he made hand motions in the air indicating the information was someplace far away, yet still within reach). Everyone else at the table looked completely confused as to what we were even discussing.

It seems today society as a whole still doesn’t understand the meaning and purpose of the cloud. I was flipping through the channels the other day, only to pass a preview for the movie Sex Tape. Granted the movie has a very thin plot about uploading a sex tape to the cloud, still, I did rewind my DVR to catch one key statement in the trailer, “Nobody understands the cloud.”

This confirms my suspicion that society as a whole has a difficult time comprehending the cloud. While IT professionals within a construction organization might have a better understanding than most, your average administrative personnel, production worker, or even corporate executive might not truly be aware of the cloud. The challenge is these people are working in construction companies all across the country where they are likely coming in contact with technology either in the office or the jobsite.

How do we move forward? I recently was having a conversation with Thad Lutgens, a member of our editorial advisory board, about the confusion surrounding the cloud and he equates it to the ambiguity surrounding the term BIM (building information modeling) a few years back. What is ultimately needed is a solid definition of what the cloud actually is.

The objective with this issue of Constructech magazine is to educate everyone involved in a construction project about the cloud and how it will impact business.

Laura Black

Let’s Talk about the Cloud

What is the cloud? How safe is the cloud? Where exactly is the cloud? Who regulates the cloud? There are those that talk about the cloud as being this amazing resource that is going to help the construction industry through yet another recovery. Let me be very clear at the outset, do not be fooled.

The cloud is only as good as the partners you are working with and as smart as you are about tapping its potential and cognizant of its risks. Simply put, you would not walk into a bad neighborhood waving $100 bills, so why would you put your most valuable information out in the open without guaranteeing it is secure? The key here is to protect it. The cloud is nothing more than a server that is networked for sharing lots of resources. Making a move to the cloud means moving your most valuable IT from being a central focus to a business focus.

While many will say the cloud is highly secure, it’s only as secure as the people who follow personal cyber hygiene, as well as work with the partners that have solid security practices. At that point, the cloud has real potential for construction. Once all the above is completed you can build the foundation to help your customers, employees, and partners access their applications and data from anywhere, at any time.

Peggy Smedley
Editorial Director

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