Integration Of Cloud Computing Services

Introduction

Cloud computing is among the current trends and results of the fourth industrial revolution. It has been in cooperated in different activities that human beings involve in including physical and economical activities to further enhance their efficiency and productivity. This report delves into evaluating the utilization of cloud computing within the construction industry through consulting a primary study on one such company. The report will also further conduct a secondary study on cloud computing and the construction industry to highlight the extent to which cloud computing can be used to enhance the activities within the construction industries. Further recommendations are provided to ensure optimization of cloud computing within construction companies to improve productivity and profitability

The Company

The report focused on an archetype company with the Alias Symmetry constructions. This company is involved in the construction industry and offers a wide range of construction services and advice ranging from the design phase of a construction project all the way to the actual construction process as well as management of the building itself. As such it is a consortium of construction firms including within its organization Architects, Construction Managers, Quantity surveyors, real estate agents as well as contractors and interior as well as exterior designers. This is beneficial to the client as they get to experience and get all services associated with their projects in construction all under one roof and management thereby limiting confusions and tedious follow ups due to hiring a wide range of companies. Upon a clients contraction of the companies services the company takes over the development and delivery of the project and the client only has to deal with one individual.

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The company therefore generates a wide range of data in relation to a single project including the actual construction process, documentation and accounting for the finances, the materials used in construction, tenant information, employee information, actual building designs and structures all of which need to be manipulated and classified for easier access and reference in the course of the project by any department mandated to do so. The company therefore requires a management of their information with regards to all the phases of the project as well as the finances and the human resource management, all of which are Business IT requirements for the company and thus the need for IT applications including cloud computing for the manipulation and storage of such extensive and crucial information.

The company being a consortium of companies has a wide range of different company and departmental headquarters all across the country and thus prompt communication and interaction between the different employees is crucially necessary. In addition information regarding all departments need be available for all the departments regardless of the location for proper and coherent teamwork. As such, cloud computing systems with main servers on the headquarters and interconnected with the different departmental headquarters is the current network infrastructure in use within the Organization. This is ideal since different employees/users can be able to not only access but input a full range of information concerning their department as well as other departments within the cloud network from their respective geographical location. This enables easier project and information management for the business.

Cloud computing in the construction industry

Cloud computing is a relatively new phenomenon and is increasingly being adopted by different industries all across the globe to be able to enhance the production and delivery of service processes. One such industry is the construction industry which has in the last five years seen increased use of computer network applications such as cloud networks (Rouse, 2018). Mathews (2018) emphasizes that within the construction industry, cloud computing allows the delivery of a wide range of computing services including storage of data, networking, as well as data analytics to allow building professionals access to faster and more flexible resources that eventually impacts the quality and durability of the structures delivered. A construction company utilizes cloud computing to store extensive construction project data, manipulate the data to predict future trends and enhance financial management as well as ensure effective construction process that saves time and cost of the project eventually while delivering on quality structures (Sage, 2012).

A number of construction companies have adopted cloud computing in one way or another to enhance their practices. Most of its application in these industries however is in the actual construction process where software is used to enhance engineering and mathematical calculations for building and structure designs. Procore, PENTA and Co Construct Software are among the most popular cloud construction software used by construction companies all across the globe (Constructionworld.Org, 2018). Limited Control and flexibility of the cloud networks by construction companies is a major limitation leading to most construction companies’ reluctance to use cloud computing (Larkin, 2018). Given that the cloud infrastructure is entirely owned and controlled by the cloud service provider, the customer who includes the construction companies have limited control over their data which in turn renders them and the whole company vulnerable to attack and manipulation. Adoption of cloud computing is however very likely to impact the company positively in all aspects.

Potential Benefits of Cloud Computing

The construction industry and especially Symmetry Consortium generates a wide range of data that can greatly benefit from cloud computing in terms of storage and manipulation. According to Trapp Technologies (2013) pooling together configurable resources enhances cost savings. Through cloud computing, different departments and their resources; including the construction, financial management as well as the design department can be effectively managed from the cloud systems to enhance effective production process and effectively cut down on costs. In addition through cloud computing the financial requirements of the project can be effectively managed and manipulated to enhance efficient expenditure which consequently impacts the company through increased profits (Privo, 2018).

The company’s better usage of cloud computing technologies could help to effectively manage information and make them flexible and easier to access upon the need for them within any geographical location of the organizations premises. Given the huge amount of information developed in the process of construction, financial management and general information system management could greatly benefit from increased adaptation and proper use of cloud system within a construction company. This not only impact growth in terms of production efficiency and flexibility but also its business capability and thus revenue and profit accumulation.

Potential Security Issues

The sector chosen, which includes the construction industry, is an information sensitive industry in terms of marketing and pricing techniques as well as building design and construction techniques. As such the potential risk involved is the theft or even manipulation of information in the cloud network which may consequently have adverse impacts on the company’s reputation, profitability and trade secrets. Larkin (2018) highlights privacy and security as one of the major disadvantages of cloud computing pointing out that despite cloud computing being the best in security standards and industry certifications, storing data and important files on external service providers always exposes the information to great risk. In addition, given that every component of the cloud computing network is online, the entire system is vulnerable to attacks despite any extraneous security measures used and any small loophole could lead to compromise of the system and information therein.

Proposal for Secure Implementation

Given the size of the company and despite the fact that building an in-house cloud system from scratch is quite a challenge as compared to contracting already existing services (Ward, 2018), the company could actually hire their own service providers to build and maintain the companies cloud system. In this way developers and service providers are part of the company and employees who are bounded by the non disclosure agreement. This adds an extra layer of security to the system which enhances the maintenance and protection of the company information.

The company could also secure different levels of the cloud system with encryption and only provide access to limited employees for different levels depending on the value of the information contained therein as another way to enhance security and flexibility of use. Critically, ensuring limited vulnerabilities to the cloud network as well as efficient utilization of the information is crucial in ensuring maximization of the cloud networks use.

Research Methodology

The study employed a qualitative research methodology which involves the use of interviews for various professionals from all the departments within the organization in an attempt to establish the level of usage of cloud computing in their departments and therefore in the entire company. Departmental heads within the company were interviewed with regards to how their department utilizes cloud computing to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of information manipulation and use. These interviews were limited to just four questions for which the interviewee had no limitation in the extent of answers given. The departments interviewed including the design, construction, project management and financial management departments. Combining the responses from the various departmental heads the report highlights the usage of cloud computing by different departments within the company and how this contributes to the eventual success of the company in its production and service delivery processes.

Very little potential risks were envisioned and experienced in as far as safety and dignity of participants is preserved. Primary data collection was critical in the development of the report and this involved the direct interaction and the use of humans as the major information source, ethical considerations in terms of relevant courtesy to be afforded the various individuals while collecting this information as outlined by British Psychological Association (2013) is therefore a major concern. However their might be potential risk to the businesses and the maintenance of its competitive advantage if any information were to be leaked to the public or any employee would talk to a researcher without prior and proper notification of the company heads. The various employees interviewed depend on their jobs for their livelihood and divulging information about their companies, especially when it comes to the strategies adopted by the company and the sensitive information that is singular to the company itself may inform breach of ethical code of conduct at work. To avoid ethical issue therefore the researcher will secure an advanced permit from a company or organization to interview any of their employees also the study will focus on interviewing only willing participants and further keeping their names and identity anonymous so as to enhance their privacy.

Project Management

The management of the project adopted in the evaluation of the use of cloud computing by Construction Company, the researcher used a gnatt chart in being able to develop a framework for managing the project. The project overall, involved the conduction of a background study into the construction industry and highlighting the use of cloud computing networks in the storage and analysis of their information, identification of a construction company that is suitably involved in the use of cloud computing within the management of their data and activities, conducting a primary research study on the company, analysis and presentation of the findings and results of the research Project. Conducted within the period of 10 days the gnat chat highlighted in Appendix I shows the breakdown of the project and its effective management.

The entire project and the process of conducting it were smooth with very few limitations and challenges. One of the major challenges experienced was the securing of a location in terms of a construction company so as to enable the actual primary research. The other sections of the project were however considerably fluid and relatively easier to manage. From the collection of secondary data which was in wide range from peer reviewed as well as internet sources pointing out that cloud computing is actually quite extensively adopted within the construction industry and not just in the process of construction itself, but also in the process of management of the construction project. The review of literature in the field of construction enables some insights into the extent of cloud computing application within the industry and base lined some of the questions used in the actual primary study,

Given that the study only focused on one company, collection of data was relatively easier and the researcher managed to collect the data in two days given the headquarters of different departments of the organizations are in different geographical locations and as such travel was necessitated. Given the adequate planning and project management, the process of conducting the research process was eventually successful and without much flaws.

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Conclusion

Cloud computing has been greatly applied all across the globe in almost all businesses and is particularly used for storage of data and analysis which impact company strategies and success. A wide range of scholars highlight that this is only the beginning, and this is quite literally true given that in the construction industry, its adoption is only beginning to increase in all departments. Cloud computing is eventually quite impactful to the construction process in all the phases, right from design where analytics impact the development of modern and durable designs that are appealing to the client, in finances where it impacts financial management and thereby enhance profitability and cost savings as well as in the actual construction process where efficient construction techniques can be first analyzed before they are actualized.

The major problem experienced by construction companies when it comes to the use of cloud computing include the lack of flexibility and security of the systems as well as vulnerability to attacks as the companies are not in full control of the systems. The research thereby enlisted the following recommendations to help with these challenges

Hire ICT experts and cloud service developers and providers to be part of the company and as such work under the wings of the company to limit vulnerabilities and enhance control of the system. Secure different levels of the cloud system with encryption and only provide access to limited employees for different levels depending on the value of the information contained therein as another way to enhance security and flexibility of use. Critically, ensuring limited vulnerabilities to the cloud network as well as efficient utilization of the information is crucial in ensuring maximization of the cloud networks use.

References

  • ConstructionWorld.Org (2018). Top 10 Cloud Construction Software - Construction World. [online] Construction World. Available at:
  • arkin, A. (2018). Risks & Disadvantages of Cloud Computing - Cloud Academy Blog. [online] Cloud Academy. Available at:
  • Mathews, K. (2018). How the Cloud Has Changed the Construction Industry. [online] CloudTweaks. Available at:[Accessed 1 May 2019].
  • Privo (2018). Benefits of Cloud Computing for the Construction Industry. [online] Privoit.com. Available
  • Rouse, M. (2018). What is cloud computing? - Definition from WhatIs.com. [online] SearchCloudComputing. Available at:
  • Sage (2012). Cloud Computing and the Construction Industry. [online] Ics-support.com. Available
  • rapp Technology (2013). How Cloud Computing Benefits the Construction Industry. [online] Trapp Technology. Available at: [Accessed 1 May 2019].
  • Ward, S. (2018). There Is a Downside to Cloud Computing for Business — but What Is It?. [online] The Balance Small Business. Available at:

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