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Cloud computing is creating a storm across the world of IT (information technology). As companies try and figure out how the concept best applies to their particular business, there are many questions that need to be answered up front.

For instance, you have the debate of private clouds or public clouds. Construction companies face the dilemma of determining which information fits into the cloud, and from there which type of cloud model fits best.

Then you have companies like Balfour Beatty, www.balfourbeattyus.com, Dallas, Texas, which works under a hybrid-cloud model. This concept combines the idea of a private cloud–a proprietary computing architecture that hosted data to users behind a firewall–and a public cloud–the more traditional hosted model.

The construction company recently announced the implementation of this approach for a file-sharing solution as a part of the Dallas Fort Worth Airport reconstruction. The solution, provided by a company named Egnyte, www.egnyte.com, Mountain View, Calif., is allowing Balfour Beatty’s design team to reduce costs by more than 70% (equaling about $5.1 million).

The Dallas Fort Worth Airport Terminal Reconstruction and Improvement Program seems like an ideal project for such a deployment, given the unique set of challenges related to both scale and security. As described by Jeff Pistor, project manager, Balfour Beatty, the drawing set was projected to be 20 times larger than typical large projects. Due to this complexity, along with the number of subcontractors working on concurrent projects and the distance between the jobsite and the jobsite office, the company required a way to make the current drawings available to everyone electronically.

Pistor says the company uses the hybrid-cloud solution as the backend storage and iPads in the field as the display device. This ensures all personnel in the field have access to the most current drawings.

Balfour Beatty points to security and control in the process of both the set-up and the management of folders as two key factors for selecting Egnyte. A copy of the data is synched behind the firewall and inside the network, which eliminates need for more bandwidth to the Internet and increases the access speed to drawings.

Pistor says, “Because ELC access was managed at the jobsite, we were able to use it for collaboration with our design team. The team members working with large 3D models were housed in our office and were able to store and share their files on the ELC even though they were all on their own company machines and did not have logins to our network. Our network security was maintained and the team was able to accomplish their need to exchange information quickly.”

Constructech

May 17, 2012

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