Cloud application walk through – a complete business suite in minutes
Power of cloud for construction: speed, convenience and security.
In 1984, John Gage, from Sun Microsystems, coined the phrase “The network is the computer” to describe the emerging world of distributed computing.
This was only three years after the stand-alone, non-networked PC had been introduced to the workplace, and most people dismissed John’s idea. They couldn’t comprehend what he was talking about. To them the computer was the new beige 386 computer sitting on their desk running Windows.
Now, over twenty years later, we are starting to understand what these five words really mean. We see the power of that statement in the current offering of cloud technologies.
This article gives a view of what can be achieved in the cloud, with a focus on construction.
Firstly what is cloud and why is it important to me?
Cloud storage is a virtualised pool of network storage most commonly hosted by third parties. Cloud storage is a network-based service which physically does not exist but resides somewhere in “the cloud”. This means sharing data over network, rather than having local servers or individual appliances. The same applies for Cloud apps – sharing apps over multiple third party computers, rather than having local servers or individual appliances.
The benefits today are you can run your business from a web browser from an off the shelf PC and access applications from anywhere that has a good network / internet connection such as Onwave Hybrid. According to a Forbes article on a survey for Rackspace,
“Using the cost and time savings from cloud computing to free up up resources for product innovation is giving these companies a long-term competitive advantage in the market.”
Cloud walk through – storage, infrastructure and apps in an instant
Imagine you have a new project. You want to mobilise a team quickly and give them business grade connectivity which is reliable and scalable. Onwave can set up a Hybrid Site for you which means there is business grade connectivity. This is essential for cloud and modern office setups. We are going to demonstrate what’s possible with a Hybrid Site and a browser. In this case we are using Outlook.com, Microsoft’s cloud based productivity suite with a standard install of Windows 7 connected at a Hybrid Site consisting of 2 x 4G bonded cricuits. You can do the same from your desktop, providing you have a good internet connection
Step 1: Register, create an account and login.
This can be done by visiting Outlook.com. We have done this with a standard install of Windows 7. Note all data is passed using HTTPS – secure protocol for web traffic. Additional security can be provided by Hybrid Site managed equipment.
The 2 minute setup process enables the power of the following components at no additional cost:
- A slice of cloud server
- 7GB Onedrive cloud storage ( was skydrive)
- Email server and web based mail client (Outlook)
- File sharing
Microsoft online apps:
All this is achieved to your benefit because of the scalability of the cloud. Microsoft’s cloud allows it to add users instantly.
Step 2: Selecting an online app from the inbox.
Once in, it’s possible to configure outlook.com to work with your head office email and access applications. To change settings, click the cog next to your name. To access a list of available apps and reveal the magic, click the down arrow next to the (+) New button. Available apps will appear.
Step 3: Open a document from Onedrive, use a template or start a new workbook.
In this case, we’ll have a look at our “2 week look ahead” of tasks for our project. Clicking the folder icon will give us access to files stored in our cloud, courtesy of Onedrive.
Even though a list of files is presented online, Microsoft have a very clever trick up their sleeve. This set of folders can also be synced automatically to a choice of devices. Ideal If you like having access to local files or even as a backup. Onedrive is available for PC, Mac, Windows tablet, iOs (iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod), Android, Windows phone and even Xbox. In this case we will choose the 2 week look ahead excel file from our recent documents. Then click Open and choose Open in Excel Online.
Step 4: Editing and saving.
Files in Excel online are saved automatically. If you want to save a copy, choose FILE, Save as…
Print is achieved at the local level, or if you have a network printer installed you can command this over the Hybrid connection from a remote project site.
Step 4: Sharing and collaborating
You can invite others to view and collaborate. Not only can you see your cohort viewing the file, you can see updates in real time, too. You can choose whether it’s read only or editable. The recipient will receive a link and can view the document, even if they do not have an outlook.com account. As the file is stored in the cloud, then it is shared on their Onedrive or only downloaded when needed. No additional storage is used in their email account.
In addition to sharing a file, it’s possible to see where the person who is invited to contribute (guest) is viewing and editing. Changes are viewed by all parties in real time.
In the example above, a document has been shared with a guest viewer – they don’t have an Outlook.com account, yet they are able to contribute immediately as you have given them write access. Cell H6 has just been edited with important information for the installation at site.
Here ends the demo – I hope you have had the opportunity to test this suite of applications which can be used anywhere there is business grade connectivity. At remote sites, e.g. in construction and engineering, it is crucial to deploy a Hybrid Site which is Onwave’s secure and scalable network service.
Addressing the risks associated with cloud applications
Cloud computing, because it typically uses multiple servers and the internet, is resilient. Of course, when using cloud services, you are reliant on good connectivity. Any savings by deploying cloud in terms of installation and management savings would be wiped out if the connectivity to the cloud should fail. Connectivity to the cloud could be considered the weakest part of the solution, unless a hybrid connectivity solution is in place. The advantage of having an Onwave Hybrid Site is that fail-over and resilience can be engineered to be part of the solution. This increases the up-time and reliability of the network.