There has been a lot written about the reality of working in a common BIM between offices. There are many reasons for doing this – in fact, it represents the true way that BIM actually makes sense. Let’s look first at the reasons.
- Multiple offices of one company want to work together
- Two different firms (often architects) want to team up to work together on a project-by-project basis
- All consultants on a project want access to their BIM models
- All consultants want to work on the same BIM model
This posting focuses mostly on challenge number 2. Why? The answer is complex, but goes to the core of the value of BIM.
, install a dedicated or thick internet “pipe”, or task their “BIM” department with a complex strategy for model sharing, they are unlikely to be interested in some of the options becoming available and affordable out there on the “cloud”(2) today anyway.
Consultants Want Access
This option is pretty much available today and pretty much the way most teams working with a true BIM process(3) are operating already. The only challenge is the “real time” aspect of it, but careful scheduling and or the appropriate process can get awfully close to this. Many suppliers offer cloud solutions that do address this need, even FTP is a viable way to make this work.
All Consultants Want to Work on the SAME BIM
Whether this is the way true BIM was intended or not, it can work, if the challenges of option number 2 are conquered. Of course, other challenges arise out of this strategy. Who owns what? Now liability issues truly do surface. In a consultant “segregated” approach(4), liability issues are really no different than in a traditional document delivery approach. This approach truly does call for an alternative contract arrangement such as IPD5.
Firms Wish to Partner on A Temporary Basis
This is the biggest challenge, and, I would contend, the most important. Well-used BIM can truly propel medium-sized design firms to work on larger projects if they can collaborate and work with larger teams for the duration of a project. The challenge is that they often do not have the money to invest in the solutions outlined in option one above. Even if they did – if the project budget allowed for it – it would be tremendously wasteful as invariably the time and investment would not be leveraged on future projects.
Some providers do offer solutions for teams to work in such a decentralized environment – some better than others. The problem is that they are often proprietary approaches depending on everyone utilizing the same software. Although not using the same software produces additional challenges, the true solution must be non-proprietary.
Enter The Open Cloud – Aerius
Clouds are grey. The open cloud is white, fluffy, affordable, and friendly. While there are other ways to make this work, we think this method offers the most flexibility, scalability, power and results. This is not a technical article, so don’t go responding that “I didn’t think of this or that problem” or “that has be en tried before”. If it has been tried, then it should work and everyone would be using it.
The Aerius is out there. We have tried it, we just haven’t perfected it. Here is how it works. A project team puts everything out there. Their central file(s), their local files, even their machines. Yes, this is like remote desktop, but on steroids. In fact, you don’t even really have a machine…you have a virtual machine. So, guess what? There is no costly upgrading of your internal hardware. It’s like the old days, except now your do not need expensive servers in your own expensive rooms in your own expensive buildings. Those are out there – the internet has seen to that. All we have to do is rent the space and the computing power. If the power is not enough, we add more. When the project is finished, we either disband it, or transfer it to another project with different players and passwords – that’s all that has to change.
Sound too simple? That’s because it is, and there are people out there who are doing their level best to make sure we don’t know about it because their livelihoods depend on it. So, stay tuned…whether it is called Nimbus or Fluff, or just “working collaboratively together”, you will be hearing more about this here.
(1) Latency, as you all know is the lag between online senders and receivers. It is especially noticeable when working on a thin client and communicating keystrokes and graphics to a remote computer/desktop
(2) The Cloud; everyone is using the term, but what does it actually do? If it is just a big hard drive in the sky, great, but that does not solve the BIM conundrum
(3) A True BIM Process – though open to everyone’s interpretation, we believe that in order for BIM to work, all participants must take part in the BIM planning and delivery process.
(4) Segregated approach – each consultant works out of their own model. Nobody but the creating consultant can change somebody else’s model, just as nobody can change others drawings in a traditional process.