PIM in the Cloud. Executive summary: Match the technology to your business needs. PIM in the Cloud WHITE PAPER. About the author.

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1 PIM in the Cloud WHITE PAPER PIM in the Cloud A pragmatic approach to project information management which recognizes that information needs to be managed both on-premise and in the cloud Executive summary: Match the technology to your business needs At Newforma, we are often asked when we are going to put our industry-leading PIM solution in the cloud. The simple answer is that it is already there. It s running on Amazon Web Services servers in North America, Europe and Asia. But let s step back and examine the question more closely. Our philosophy is that there is no single technology platform for project delivery. Different platforms are required to support different use cases, to optimize different work processes, and to manage a constantly evolving, federated project dataset, some of which exists on-premise, some of which may be located in the cloud, and the remainder of which resides in the offices of other project team members. Evaluating hosted versus on-premise software solutions can be a complex task, but choosing the deployment strategy first, before thoughtful consideration of the business drivers behind that technology deployment, is nearly always guaranteed to produce a suboptimal result. About the author Newforma Chief Executive Officer Ian Howell is an Australian architect by training, with professional experience as managing director of the Sydney office of The Buchan Group. His AEC software industry experience includes positions with Autodesk, Citadon, Alias Research and Rucaps Australia. Among his contributions to the AEC software industry, Ian was a founder of the International Alliance for Interoperability (now the buildingsmart Alliance). The meaning of PIM PIM stands for project information management. Better PIM improves your firm, strengthens your team and leads to more successful project delivery. Audience Business decision makers and non-it executives in AEC/O firms Industry analysts and influencers Objectives Illustrate the advantages and challenges of cloud computing with the experiences of Newforma and Newforma customers. Show how optimal results come from technology delivery platforms that best conform to specific business requirements and use cases. About Newforma Newforma develops and markets project information management (PIM) software for architecture, engineering and construction firms worldwide, and the owners they serve. For more, see the last page of this white paper, and visit Page 1 of 10

2 Newforma chooses different technology platforms to meet different business needs Before being seduced by the marketing hype or the latest cloud-based offering from a new vendor, the best advice we can offer is that you first ask yourself, What business problem am I trying to solve? Pausing to ask that question first will logically lead you to consider the various solutions that are best able to address your business needs. Then you are in a position to evaluate the most appropriate solution based upon your risk profile, privacy concerns, security requirements, reliability expectations, operating costs, user behaviors, and related considerations. Here at Newforma, we have chosen to deploy a number of cloud-based solutions to meet our business needs. We use Salesforce.com s customer relationship management system for our new account sales team. We use Paylocity Web Pay for payroll and human resources administration. NetSuite is our system for back-office financial administration and support case tracking. RightNow provides our online knowledgebase. All of this sensitive company and personal information is being managed online. On the other hand, we have chosen to manage some elements of our business behind our company firewall: our source code, our product feature tracking system, and, using Newforma Project Center technology, the wide array of information associated with our product development process. Each of these decisions has been made based upon various risk and performance criteria, the degree of control we want over the servers that manage and store the information, and accessibility to this information by employees who are travelling and working from offices across the country and around the world. Sometimes cloud services made the best business sense for us, but not always. The cloud is not a panacea Being available in the cloud will not make the wrong solution suddenly work. For example, formal document management systems (based upon a vault/repository with check-in/check-out capabilities, etc.) have often failed in architecture, engineering and construction companies whose busy employees will not take the time to follow strict filing rules, add metadata tags, and take other steps required by document management systems. If your staff are uncomfortable using anything but a loosely defined project folder hierarchy to organize their information, please don t imagine that implementing a cloud-based solution will suddenly change that behavior. Page 2 of 10

3 Which platform best suits the task? In the case of architecture, engineering and construction project management, the question is, How can organizations best manage large volumes of dynamic and unstructured information? Newforma s answer to this question is a purpose-built PIM solution that indexes the dataset to make its contents fully searchable, just as Google indexes the web to make its contents searchable. The Newforma solution includes a number of different software components that run on different platforms, depending on which one will most completely and effectively support our customers business needs. Different platforms meet different needs After reaching clarity about the problem you are trying to solve, consider how to best to implement that solution whether on your enterprise network, in the cloud, or some hybrid solution. Here s how Newforma does it. The need for a Windows client Newforma enterprise software includes a Windows client that runs on desktop or laptop computers. It provides a rich user interface to access more than 200 file types and very large amounts of project information typically being saved on a central file server behind our customers firewalls. This ability to search, view and mark up project files stored locally in project folders cannot be provided from a cloud-based solution. The need for Web access You may say, What about all of the files I need to share with other members of the project team who work for companies outside of my firm? For this purpose, the Newforma PIM solution includes a web component that leverages the Microsoft.Net platform. Project information sent from and received by your organization can be managed via this web interface. All of the documents, and logs for a project are accessible using an internet browser, including those on smartphones and tablets. One virtue of this solution is that it does not require users to file project information in two places on their networks and in the cloud. Why make our customers upload existing files to the cloud where you must pay to store them a second time when a perfectly pragmatic solution is to manage them where they are? The need for a tablet to keep working when disconnected from the cloud As another example, Newforma provides a punch list tablet app that is specifically designed to run when disconnected from the cloud. This capability solves a business problem faced by our customers: to be able to enter defects for a building when no mobile signal exists, such as when working deep in a multi-story basement parking garage. Page 3 of 10

4 In this case, the appropriate platform is a tablet. It s portable; it provides a built-in camera and microphone for recording a description of the problem; and it offers enough screen real estate to read a plan or navigate to a view of the building model. (The Newforma Punch List application runs on Apple ipad and Android tablets.) The Newforma philosophy in a nutshell Our philosophy is that there is no single technology platform for project delivery. Different platforms are required to support different use cases, to optimize different work processes, and to manage a constantly evolving, federated project dataset, some of which exists on-premise, some of which may be located in the cloud, and the remainder of which resides in the offices of other project team members. Different approaches to PIM in the cloud As noted at the beginning of this paper, our Newforma PIM solution can be deployed in the cloud today just as easily as it can be implemented behind your corporate firewall. The simple prerequisite question is, What is the location of the project data you want to manage? We have worked with a number of our customers who have made the business decision to leverage cloud-based computing to streamline project delivery, as follows: Case No. 1: Move IT into the cloud Several of our customers have decided to move their entire company IT infrastructure into the cloud. Their company network now exists in a private cloud managed servers in a data center. In such cases, the two Newforma servers that our customers deploy for our PIM solution the indexing server and the web-based information sharing server are deployed on virtual machines at the same data center as the company s project information. In this case, internal users (company staff) access project information via a remote desktop connection (RDC). External users (such as consultants) have browser-based access to shared information. Being able to deploy our solution in the cloud in this way supports our customers business decision to reduce their total costs of ownership by outsourcing hardware and IT infrastructure. Case #2: Set up individual projects in the cloud For a large or complex project a mega-project perhaps a firm will inevitably want to utilize resources firm-wide that may be located in a number of different offices. To achieve this end, the firm can deploy just that one project in the cloud, essentially setting up a virtual office for that project. In such a case, internal users access project information via VPN (a virtual private network). External users have browserbased access to shared information. Newforma can facilitate centralized management of all project information. It can be Page 4 of 10

5 accessible by both internal and external project team members through VPN, via remote desktop protocol, from a browser, or from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Case #3: Owners lease a cloud server An owner may wish to monitor the progress of the project team or collect the full history of a project as it progresses by deploying our PIM solution on a leased server in the cloud. Each company working on the project with the owner can then be connected using Newforma to Newforma technology to create a transparent project network. With Newforma to Newforma, users access project information locally, but all information is shared transparently with the owner, as well as with all of the other consultants using Newforma software who have opted into using Newforma-to- Newforma connectivity for that specific project. External users who are not using Newforma software have browser-based access to all shared information. In this case, the owner has on-demand visibility into the progress being made by the project team. The owner also collects the full history of the project as it progresses, without any incremental effort to upload or download files and without having to design and administer a security model for a project extranet. Case #4: Construction managers lease a cloud server Similar to case No. 3, a construction manager can choose to employ a cloud solution using Newforma to Newforma connectivity. The CM could monitor every activity on the project by being connected to the design team, general contractor, specialty subcontractors, and the owner. In addition to full transparency, every activity is also being logged to ensure accountability. Case #5: Back up and archive in the cloud A number of our customers are already using inexpensive, expandable, managed cloud storage to back up their project information. If that backup ultimately becomes a project archive, indexing those files for future search and recovery of knowledge is made possible by deploying a Newforma indexing server in the cloud where the data is stored. Alternatives are to save and index the information before the project is archived, or to index the cloud storage as a virtual drive on your company network. What business decision is right for your firm? Where do you want your project information to be located? If your answer is Behind my company firewall on servers that I own and control, then no matter how loud the hype gets, the cloud may not be for you! If you are not an all-things-behind-the-firewall company, you may want to consider the following options: Page 5 of 10

6 Option #1: Subscribe to online services You may be able to meet some basic project information management needs by using such services as Microsoft Office 365, Google Docs, Gmail, Dropbox, and others. The good news is that Newforma software can interface with all of these solutions. However, choosing to use a collection of unaffiliated online services like this can result in a highly fragmented project dataset and may limit many of the benefits the Newforma PIM solution provides. Option #2: Redeploy your entire IT infrastructure to the cloud This is the option to pursue if you seek to experience the joys of not having to purchase any more disk arrays for your file server, saying goodbye to managing fail-over redundancy, giving the heave-ho to problems with your Microsoft Exchange server, and other such payoffs. In this option, all of your systems are hosted either in the public cloud (such as on leased Amazon EC2 servers) or in a private cloud (managed servers at a data center). Option #3: Put one project in the cloud Putting one large or complex project in the cloud is a way to try the cloud and learn from that experience. Option #4: Use the cloud to host a virtual project team Colocating everyone in one space has been proven to facilitate faster communication, better cooperation and more collaborative decision- making. A cloud-hosted virtual project team offers a way to achieve these benefits without first setting up a dedicated project domain. Now it is possible, either by using a cloud server with everyone on the team having remote desktop access, or by using Newforma-to-Newforma technology to simulate a project domain. Two current trends that may impact your business decisions Trend No. 1: work sharing At a time when competition demands every ounce of productivity from existing employees and the need to optimize work processes for maximum efficiency, Newforma customers are relying more on sharing work between offices to maximize the use of existing skills and resources. To this end, technologies such as Revit BIM Server, Citrix Server with RDC Access, and DFS file replication are all at the forefront of new technology adoption. We would advise you to question the need to facilitate work sharing by aggregating all of your project information in a vault, having it reside on a single BIM server, or having it uploaded to a project extranet workspace. The problem is better defined as being How should you manage a federated project dataset by a distributed project team? a question the Newforma PIM solution has been designed to answer. Page 6 of 10

7 Trend No. 2: mobile access to data One of the truly compelling benefits of cloud-based services is ubiquitous access to your information on any device, from any place, at any time. To use a consumer-oriented example, you can now listen to your favorite songs on your ipod/mp3 player, smartphone, ipad/tablet or PC/laptop whether you are at home, in the car, at an airport gate lounge, or in your hotel room, among other locations. Similarly, with an increasingly mobile workforce and the need to access project information from the jobsite, easy access to up-to-date project information is essential for effective project management. Of course, the key to having mobile access to the project information you need is a web service on a server that may or may not be in the cloud. Newforma customers use their Newforma Info Exchange servers to reference record documents, review RFIs and submittals, respond to project s and more from any device, from any place, at any time. Newforma subscription licensing Newforma adopted the subscription business model at its founding. We believed subscription licensing to be the correct model whether our solution was to be deployed on-premise or in the cloud. In Newforma s experience, the subscription business model promotes much stronger relationships with customers. During the recession of 2009 through 2010, Newforma worked closely with customers to help them adapt to staff reductions. In an industry in which projects come and go and staffing is the key variable to controlling overhead, the ability to tie technology costs to the business cycle is a huge advantage. In addition to its advantage in cost and flexibility, subscription licensing strengthens customer relationships by promoting better products and services. Our success depends on ongoing investments in product development, in delivering high quality support and services, and in providing an ongoing return on investment to our customers. We earn each annual renewal. Have customers embraced subscription pricing? Our 99 percent renewal rate speaks to its success. Some advantages of the cloud 1. Pay as you go: Cloud-based applications are commonly licensed as subscriptions; that is, you pay a monthly or yearly fee rather than purchase a perpetual license and optional maintenance contract. The benefits of software as a service (SaaS) are many: 1. The company s cash flow improves by avoiding large upfront payments for perpetual licenses. 2. Cost of ownership scales with usage; that is, as needs rise and fall, subscription fees rise and fall proportionately. Page 7 of 10

8 3. Licensees are spared from paying maintenance fees on inactive licenses lest they lose the licenses and sacrifice fees already paid. 4. Subscriptions include regular upgrades to the solution, enabling subscribers to get the latest software enhancements without budgeting separately for upgrades. 5. Software companies must work to earn subscription renewals, ensuring strong relationships and ongoing service excellence. For Newforma customers experience with subscription pricing, see the sidebar Newforma subscription licensing. 2. Elasticity: The convenience of access to theoretically unlimited resources is a very attractive element of cloud computing. For example, for scalability and performance testing, we have fired up 80 Amazon EC2 servers for seven days as a temporary quality assurance test bench. They simulate the transaction loads that our largest clients, with their multiple offices, would place on our Newforma solution. The costs of doing this via traditional IT infrastructure for the limited duration of the test would have been cost-prohibitive. 3. Computing power: Certain tasks, such as rendering for high-definition visualization, can take hours, even days. The idea of a temporary server farm using extra CPU power to cut processing time dramatically is very compelling when you only pay for these resources for the actual time they are in use. 4. Managed storage: Per-gigabyte-per-year rates are very affordable for managed storage. Managed storage means that someone else worries about redundancy, backups, and data recovery after a hardware failure, for example. The discipline required here is to keep your saved data organized and up-to-date rather than to just have your archives become a digital landfill because the storage is so cheap. Public versus private clouds: What is your tolerance for risk? When it comes to adopting the cloud as a technology platform for streamlined project delivery, our best guidance is that you should use the time-proven what keeps me awake at night test: Public cloud: shared multi-tenant virtual servers Recent events, such as the Sony PlayStation network being temporarily shut down for several weeks, and two different Amazon outages that lasted a day or longer, have demonstrated that some caution is required in relying on the public cloud as having guaranteed availability. However, using public cloud-hosted solutions for specific business functions such as the Gmail webmail service, the Google Docs program, Microsoft Office 365 apps, Dropbox, CRM, etc., may be the most effective way of addressing the business needs they meet. Page 8 of 10

9 Private cloud: hosted servers in a secure environment If you would prefer to have dedicated servers hosted at one or more data centers, and to have your information and IT resources consolidated in a highly secure environment with 24x7 network monitoring and emergency power generation on standby, then a private cloud may be the option for your company. Hybrid: whatever works best for the task at hand As described at the start of this paper, Newforma has adopted a hybrid approach of using both on-premise and online services to satisfy our business requirements: We use Amazon EC2 cloud servers extensively. We rely on a number of online services for key business systems. We own dedicated private servers at a local Class A data center. We maintain servers on our premises for product development. In each case, we carefully considered our business needs before choosing a solution. On-premise: still relevant for some enterprise systems Client-server based enterprise systems deployed behind the company firewall on a company local area and/or wide area network are still completely relevant for many applications, data types and work processes. Project domain: privacy and limited access For certain maximum security situations, such as a secure government facility, for example, a dedicated project network may be required. It may even need to be completely isolated from the internet. Once again, you should adopt the solution that best satisfies your specific business requirements. Page 9 of 10

10 Conclusion: Clarify your business problem to find the optimal solution To be (in the cloud), or not to be (in the cloud) is NOT the first question to be asking yourself. Instead, begin with a thoughtful examination of the business problem you are attempting to solve. Many insights will flow out of that examination, including the most appropriate choice of technology platform. Frankly, we believe that the answer can and probably will be different for each individual company and, within a company, for specific applications. We are strong proponents of a hybrid approach, incorporating the use of cloud-based solutions dependent upon personal preferences, business requirements, the chosen method for project delivery and any unique demands of a specific project. For our part, we are committed to providing a comprehensive project information management solution to our customers. That commitment includes the option to leverage the cloud for streamlined project delivery, as business needs dictate. Which Newforma product is for you? Newforma Design Suite Newforma Construction Suite Newforma Owner Suite Newforma Project Analyzer Strengthen your company, strengthen your team Manage project information. Streamline work processes. Connect to partners. Access project information remotely. Drive accountability. Improve project delivery Raise productivity. Reduce risk. Strengthen your brand. Liberate time for better design and construction Elm Street, 10th floor Manchester, New Hampshire USA , option Newforma, Inc. Newforma is a registered trademark of Newforma, Inc., in the United States and in other countries. All other brands or products are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders and should be treated as such April Page 10 of 10

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