For IT professionals in the construction industry, cloud computing is creating a certain level of complexities for doing business. Before diving head first into the cloud, contractors need to carefully consider how such technologies will work within the business, creating a strategy for how to move forward with the cloud.

When it comes to cloud computing, there are several different delivery methods including IaaS (infrastructure as a service), PaaS (platform as a service), SaaS (software as a service), and RaaS (resource as a service), as well as many deployment models, which include public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud.

Meraki, www.meraki.com, San Francisco, Calif., is an example of a company that provides cloud-managed switches for construction. How does this help? Contractors will no longer need to send an IT specialist out to every jobsite to manage the hardware on the job. Rather, the networking equipment at the jobsite can be managed in the cloud.

The technology provider recently announced upgrades to its switches. Instead of just monitoring basic host and port information in the cloud, the new switches now provide visibility into the applications, users, and devices. The company provides these examples: Now, the dashboard can show how iPad utilization compares to Android tablets; which port the CEO’s phone is connected to; and how much bandwidth is being consumed by video. This upgrade also includes new security and management features.

While Meraki is an example of a company that offers networking equipment, another area from which contractors can benefit is application hosting services. The Cram Group, www.thecramgroup.com, New York, N.Y., is an example of a company that provides managed hosting and software development services for the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry.

For example, with the AECCloud application hosting services, contractors can use Web applications running through a browser on Microsoft and Apple operating systems, desktop applications running on Microsoft, Apple, and Android-based devices, or native apps such as OBAs (Office Business Applications), Prolog Mobile, or Primavera products that are part of a standard hosting service.

At the end of July, the company announced its AECCloud Broad Access strategy, which is a service that brings control and transparency to the way companies manage products, services, and resources offered via the cloud.

At this year’s Technology Day conference, a session will focus exclusively on uncovering how cloud-based technologies are changing the way construction is doing business, helping the industry understand the true ramifications, both now and into the future.

In one half of this session, the discussion will address the definition of cloud and options for adoption, the true cost of moving to the cloud, security considerations, and even what the user experience will be for construction companies. The second half of the presentation will speak to cloud-based networking equipment and specific areas in the construction industry where cloud technology is making an impact and where trends are headed.