The cloud is no longer a far-off concept. Many tech providers in the construction industry are offering up solutions in the cloud—allowing contractors to choose between an on-premise or hosted solution. With this in mind, construction companies need to determine if the cloud is a good fit for their company. Also, if it is a good fit, what are some key considerations when moving to the cloud?

For Real Goods Solar, www.realgoodssolar.com, Louisville, Colo., a solar-power installer for commercial, residential, and utility, moving to the cloud was the right choice.

“I think one of the most difficult tasks an IT manager faces is to quantify the cost associated with an application,” says Joe Thielen, IT director, Real Good Solar. “If you go into the cloud, questions about cost disappear. You know exactly how much it costs each month—no surprises and no estimating. In addition, a cloud-based ERP (enterprise-resource planning) solution provides better scalability as Real Goods Solar prepares for strong growth in 2013.”

Late last year, Real Goods Solar decided to use Viewpoint V6 Software from Viewpoint Construction Software, www.viewpointcs.com, Portland, Ore. The cloud-based solution allows Real Goods Solar to eliminate its need for a data center or co-locating the company’s servers at a secondary location.

For construction companies, one of the benefits of moving to a cloud-based solution is avoiding much of the maintenance and infrastructure associated with hosting the solution on site. Still, contractors are able to take advantage of all the same capabilities of an on-premise solution.

Making the move to the cloud has been a big trend in the construction industry as of late, as it offers the ability to shift much of the IT burden to the technology provider. Additionally, as Thielen explains, the cloud-based solutions provide better scalability as a company grows and offers peace of mind that the costs associated with an application remain the same every month.

Should you move to the cloud? Is it the right fit for your construction company? Some construction companies may choose to stick with traditional on-premise solutions. For some, it offers the ability to manage the infrastructure in-house, while others are simply hesitant to make the switch.

Whatever your company decides, it appears the cloud is here to stay in the construction industry, offering contractors a bit of flexibility and more options for how to deploy technology.