You have likely heard the term cloud—but have you evaluated how it is already impacting your construction company and how it will continue to change how your company does business in the future?

For years one of the benefits of the cloud that was widely discussed was the fact the cloud could save IT costs, as systems wouldn’t necessarily have to be in house. However, now construction companies are beginning to look at the true long-term costs of the cloud.

For example, back in 2009, Gartner, www.gartner.com, Stamford, Conn., first addressed this when it indicated one of the service models in particular—SaaS (software-as-a-service)—is less expensive for the first two years of deployment, however, in the long run, the SaaS model can start costing companies more on a month-by-month basis.

Still, the analyst firm went on to define some key savings of the cloud in 2010 including fewer hardware assets, which means lower operating costs and less maintenance. Some of these ‘behind the scenes’ cost savings can provide big value to construction companies in the long run.

Looking at the economics of scale of moving software to the cloud and the support skills that must be maintained within an IT department are a few items to consider.

Procore Technologies, www.procore.com, Carpinteria, Calif., offers project-management technology for the construction industry and says the cost of moving enterprise applications to the cloud is commonly misconstrued as arduous and costly. However, switching from on-site servers to SaaS actually provides cost and security benefits.

With the cloud, there are no depreciating servers, less IT consulting, more storage space and security, and accessibility from any Internet-connected device, according to Procore Technologies.

As the construction industry continues to look more closely at the cloud, the long-term costs are something many contractors are examining.