The Walsh Group, www.walshgroup.com, Chicago, Ill., has big plans for technology in the future—chiefly moving its Microsoft SharePoint environment into the cloud with Microsoft Azure. From there, the company will continue to leverage Azure for improved performance, simplicity, and security.

Patrick Wirtz, innovation manager, The Walsh Group, explains the next big tech transformation for the company is to move to cloud services and storage. This move is possible, in part, because of a decision the company made five years ago when it opted to improve its network connection.

With roughly a dozen regional offices, one main office, and anywhere from 150-200 jobsites connected to the corporate environment, The Walsh Group needed a fast and secure method to send project information.

Like most construction organizations being able to share files is key, and traditional connections can easily become overburdened with the amount of data that needed to be shared on a job. Although, as Wirtz points out, it isn’t only the fact that file sizes are large, but also the fact that team members are editing the files often.

“BIM (building information modeling) coordination is only growing,” says Wirtz. “I would say 90% of our jobsites have some sort of 3D modeling.”

As the company began to rely on the Internet more and more, it needed network connections that could deliver improved application performance and file-sharing capabilities. As such, five years ago, The Walsh Group began evaluating new technology and settled on Riverbed Steelhead, www.riverbed.com, San Francisco, Calif.

Today, all of its regional offices and some of the larger jobsites have that connection in place. Wirtz says the biggest benefit is the ability to transfer large files between offices. Riverbed Steelhead also allows The Walsh Group to improve application performance across its WAN (wide-area network), whereas before the company had slow application performance and sharing of files.

Additionally, now, as the company is looking to move to the cloud, having Riverbed in place will enable the company to move SharePoint to the cloud with less effort. “By moving our SharePoint to Azure and then putting in this new device from Riverbed, it allows for the cloud acceleration,” says Wirtz.

More so than most industries, construction needs to seek out the right WAN and Internet connection in order to transfer files in a timely manner. Now, as mobile and cloud trends continue to gain traction in the construction industry, having the right connection will be key in order to move large sums of data quickly.