Alberici deployed Egnyte to its teams in order to achieve the reliable file syncperformance they needed to effectively collaborate across all of their offices and projects sites.
Solving complex challenges on aggressive timelines is in the DNA of Alberici Corporation, a diversified construction company that works in industrial and commercial markets globally.
When longtime client General Motors Company called on Alberici for an urgent design-build request to transform an 86,000 square-foot warehouse into an emergency ventilator manufacturing facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, they answered the call. Within just two weeks, the transformed facility produced its first ventilator and, within a month, it was making 500 life-saving devices a day.
Drawing on their more than 100-years of experience successfully completing complex projects like the largest hydroelectric plant on the Ohio River, automotive assembly plants for leading car manufacturers, and SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, Alberici was ready to act fast.
Engineering News-Record recently ranked Alberici as the 31st largest construction company in the United States with annual revenues of $2B. Nearly 80 percent of Alberici’s business is generated by repeat clients, a testament to their service and quality and the foundation for consistent growth.
Ron Borror serves as the Director of Technology Infrastructure for Alberici and has been with the company for 28 years. His team is responsible for all core infrastructure including compute, storage, telephony and user support. According to Borror, the primary goal of his team is to provide the best technology solutions to support project teams in the field and deliver the best construction projects to their clients.
Alberici operates 17 regional offices across the United States, Mexico and Canada. The company typically averages around 100 construction projects across a wide variety of commercial and industrial markets. With the majority of Alberici’s business conducted at work sites, in the field, Borror and the IT team architect systems that are accessible from anywhere.
Given the scale of regional offices and concurrent project sites, Alberici was facing content sprawl across a variety of disparate apps and file repositories. They needed to consolidate into a centralized content platform that would allow them to organize data into a standard folder structure and give the correct individuals access to the data they needed, while excluding those who did not. Borror’s team also needed to efficiently sync data to regional offices and project teams in the field with the goal to have one centralized copy of the data.
Needing to address these challenges, Alberici did a small-scale proof of concept with cloud storage company Nasuni. They tested three locations with a limited set of data and according to Borror, the sync times were acceptable. However, after setting off on the journey of migrating all their data and adding more locations to the mix, five-minute sync times became 15 minutes, then 30 minutes, then one hour.
For Alberici’s Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) teams working with the large models, this process was extremely frustrating.
"Sync times became a real struggle for our remote people in various project locations to access data when someone in a branch or home office saved a file and a project team out in the field had to wait an hour or longer to access the data," Borror said. "We soon found that Nasuni was unable to scale to the amount of locations we have and the amount of data we were putting into it. This was creating a significant problem for our teams."
Borror’s team evaluated numerous file-services solutions including Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Citrix Sharefile.
Borror originally thought SharePoint was the direction to go for presumed cost effectiveness given they used Microsoft 365; however, they quickly realized that perception was not reality.
They retained SharePoint consultants to help them in the evaluation and started by reviewing their project estimating process. The estimating department creates upwards of a thousand files for a single project and organizes estimates by year for easy access. With the number of items and size limitations of both site collections and document libraries, they quickly ran into problems. The fundamental architectural limitations of Sharepoint meant that they would face considerable reorganization of their data and be forced to change the way that departments operate. Additionally, Sharepoint could not sync to storage appliances at their remote locations.
Document sprawl across multiple site collections and many document libraries would create additional complexity for users and IT administrators alike. Between the added process inefficiencies, the cost of retaining necessary consultants, and the probability of increased risk due to a complex permissions model, Alberici determined the actual costs on the business would be too significant.
Since implementing Egnyte, Alberici has not experienced problems or delays in accessing data as they were before.
"Egnyte has opened new doors of possibilities where we didn’t have access out in the field previously,” said Borror." The VDC and BIM teams utilize Egnyte to sync huge files offline. They have been our largest proponents of Egnyte."
Smart caching capabilities analyze file access patterns and automatically caches the files that users access. This allows Alberici to maintain a lower operating cost at remote locations by keeping the storage utilized on-premises and network bandwidth in check by hosting only the most relevant files.
The company set up a standardized project folder structure for every project in Egnyte to give access to subcontractors, architects and clients. Auditing and reporting functionality within Egnyte makes it easy to verify who has accessed the data, which prevents unauthorized usage.
Alberici’s initial goal was to move all their project data and construction folders to Egnyte then move onto departmental file shares. With employees working from home during the pandemic, they have begun moving individuals over ahead of schedule.
"Egnyte has been very helpful with individuals working at home during COVID-19. It’s made their transition to working from home seamless," said Borror. "The architecture and performance of the Desktop App - that they only have one drive letter to worry about -with all of their data contained within has been amazing for the individuals working at home."
With the Egnyte for Procore integration, Alberici provides subcontractors and clients the ability to collaborate on project bids, onsite photos, designs and more, all from within Procore. This provides users the optimal experience to access critical documents for a specific job through a single system and log-in experience, while the remaining Alberici data remains secure and inaccessible.
With exciting projects on the horizon, Alberici now has the technology and partner in place that equips its team to meet the demand required of complex projects and earn repeat clients.
“The support from Egnyte has been great. It’s refreshing that you can reach out and chat with Egnyte senior leadership anytime you want,” said Borror. “Egnyte has been a really nice success for us.”
Alberici is a diversified construction company recognized for superior quality and customer service. With operations throughout North America and clients around the world, they offer general contracting, construction management and design-build solutions, as well as the ability to self-perform key components of their projects.
St. Louis, MO