BIM Cloud, BIM Cloud, BIM Cloud, BIM Cloud…. What is it and when will it end?

BIM Cloud…. What is it and when will it end?

seems like it will never end, by the looks of things on Google.  My good friend and business partner Chris France, former CIO of Little Diversified Architectural Consulting and now Regional President of Advance2000 first introduced this term to me when I was working as a BIM Coordinator for a well-known Healthcare Developer Lillibridge, now a Ventas Company and building a startup company which I own today CaddForce.

I read an article by Chris named “BIM and the Cloud” on AECBytes way back in 2010 and now archived.  I might add that others (like Autodesk) have taken this title and changed it to “BIM in the Cloud” in AEC Magazine? Come on Autodesk; try to be a little original at least.  Actually, Autodesk, Graphisoft, and many many others have linked the words “BIM Cloud” to their services these days – all of which don’t really do what Chris was doing when the article was written, nor do they do what Chris and the entire team at Advance2000 has transformed it into today.  If you read and found Chris’s article “BIM and the Cloud” interesting you may also want to read the continuation articles “BIM and the Cloud, Part 2: The Economics of Private Cloud Computing”, as well as “VDC in the Cloud – Journey to LEAN Construction”.

I will note, every time Chris posts an article it seems like someone else follows it with their own post about the same topic.  ??

Needless to say, I thought some clarity should be made about my interpretation of what a real BIM Cloud is when it was first introduced to me and what it is today.

Of course, playing in the coordination/ drafting/ development role of an architecture firm I was met with many challenges.  Our largest problem was coordinating multiple disciplines on projects with hundreds and hundreds of drawings, literally.  My typical day became painful – all the linked drawings, out of date data, megabyte emails, gigabyte FTP downloads, saves to central, standards updates, updates for contractors, consultants, equipment vendors, interior designers, project managers, architects…… the list goes on as you know.  Oh, and then we had a big meeting with everybody to talk about the problems with the drawings.  And then everybody had to go back to their office and make changes and resend their updated models.  It was a never ending cycle moving data and unproductive work.  Maybe I got to actually do some production work 2 or 3 hours out of the day if I was lucky.

I decided there had to be a better way and began my research.  Crawling through Google inch by inch, website by website I finally stumbled across the title “BIM and the Cloud” and thought to myself, what’s this?  I clicked and read the first paragraph which immediately roused my curiosity, could this be a solution?  I continued to read this extremely long article and….. BAMMM.  It happened.  Like that first time you actually understood how to multiply and divide fractions, the “clouds” parted and I ascended into the heaven of real-time collaboration.

I thought to myself, this guy figured it out.  Immediately I shot off an email to Chris wanting to get my hands on his solution.  He graciously walked me through it step by step.  One geek to another, if you’ve made it this far on the post I’m sure you understand the passion here.  I was so lost before without this as I’m sure many of you still are today (no offense intended).

Alright alright, enough of that.  Let’s get to my definition of BIM Cloud but first I’ll start out with the phrase I read in the article from Chris “Instead of moving the data to the people, bring the people to the data”.

It’s that simple really, and accomplished by remote computing.  Logging into a workstation from anywhere with an internet connection; and that workstation is sitting right next to the server that’s hosting all your models.  So when you save to central in Revit or open that AutoCAD drawing you now have what I like to call the “BAMMM effect”.  All you guys sitting in that remote office, no waiting for that save to travel across the wire to corporate anymore.  Everybody logs into their desktop and has live actual real-time data, a single version of the truth.  When I say everybody I mean the entire project team with all disciplines – if you so choose.

There is nothing else to the concept really.  Of course the industry knowledge, backend technology, and level of service are of upmost importance, which I, Chris, and Advance2000 are well aware of – and if you’ve ever tried remote computing with Autodesk apps so are you.

There are many companies out there right now creating their own version of a “BIM Cloud” service, the majority of these are still distributing data.  They’re just finding more creative ways to do it.  It’s still not real-time and it never will be.  STOP DISTRIBUTING DATA PEOPLE!!  BRING THE PEOPLE TO THE DATA!!

With the evolution of computing and the never-ending hardware upgrades required with every new release of the predominant industry software’s it’s hard to keep up financially.  Most companies that use a private cloud solution like Advance2000 offers realize they can do much more than just project work on these virtual computers but rather they can run their entire IT business in the datacenter and be much more productive and effective while gaining a competitive edge in the industry.

Can you imagine consolidating the IT of a 10 office firm into one building?  You just got rid of a whole bunch of capital expense.  Now your IT has become an operational expense.  I’ve had clients tell me “Randall, I don’t know how the hell we were doing business before and I can’t imagine going back to that mess”.  That’s quite a statement and this is what drives me to provide the best possible solution for real-time collaboration.  I believe I’ve saddled to right horse partnering with Advance2000 to deliver their services to the industry.  They continue to impress me by expanding their knowledge, staff, improving the backend technology, improving the service desk, and also expanding their datacenter infrastructure and capacity capabilities.

Some companies are also choosing to build their own “BIM Cloud” like Chris France did at Little, who has since moved Little into the Advance2000 datacenter.  It might make sense for a company to build their own cloud but 8 out of 10 times that has not been my experience.  It really comes down to the team, the budget, and the benefits they are trying to gain.  Long term, consolidating infrastructure and not having to worry so much about the backend technology is going to save you money folks and make you more productive.

In closing, I hope you’ve enjoyed my rant about the many different “BIM Cloud” services and if I helped one person understand all this mess a little better it’s worth it to me.

You may also enjoy some videos on this topic:

AEC Cloud Chaos – Lifting the Fog” Webinar

AIA CES: How to Enable Real-Time Revit Collaboration in the Cloud

AEC Collaboration Hub: A Network of Private Clouds to Facilitate Real Time Project

All IT, All Cloud

Private Cloud for Quorum Architects

Amenta Emma Architects in the Cloud

Cadd Force teams up with Advance2000 to Deliver Private BIM Cloud to Woolpert

FKP Architects Private Cloud – Bruce Houck, VP & CIO

P.S. – Below you will notice an exuberant amount of repeated “BIM Cloud” tags.  I want to make sure this article gets noticed on Google so people can read and learn before they get to that “other version” BIM Cloud webpage…  Have a good one!!

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