Engineering Data Management in the Cloud

Paul Boughton
Recent trends indicate that the Cloud is not only a reality that is here to stay – it is a strategy which every business must consider in order to remain competitive in the global market.
BlueCielo ECM Solutions, a pioneer in Asset Information Management and EDM solutions, investigates how Cloud technologies can benefit asset owners and engineering contractors, and highlights key points to consider when choosing a Cloud-based EDM solution for your business.

Over the past 10 years, Cloud technology has emerged as a key trend, but little information is available about the specific impact that the Cloud has on Engineering Data Management (EDM) or Asset Information Management (AIM).

What is the Cloud?

The 'Cloud' may refer to a model for internet-based computing, or to the provision and use of services, software, platforms or infrastructure as a service. In other words, the Cloud is a metaphor for the complex structure behind the Internet which allows users to access technology services through a web browser - but without needing to understand how this is constructed and independent of their geographic location.

Cloud-based solutions may be offered in several deployment models: as a Private Cloud, a Public Cloud or as a Hybrid Cloud. Each deployment model offers differing benefits and risks, so selection is greatly impacted by the specific regulatory and business compliance needs of the organisation. [Page Break]

Which Cloud?

Public Cloud deployment is the best known Cloud model, offering the greatest cost savings – but also the highest level of risk.

Initial investment is reduced, as infrastructure need not be purchased; in-house IT costs are reduced and capital expenditure can be converted into operational expenditure. This cost saving is achieved through multi-tenancy (multiple users sharing resource and infrastructure costs) as services are delivered on demand, thereby creating an economy of scale.

Public Cloud models also offer enhanced agility and tremendous scalability, both of which are attractive in a fast-changing market. However, the disadvantages of Public Cloud deployment include increasingly complex security when data is accessed by unrelated users, potential hacking of public servers, as well as unavailability of technical asset data if either your own local Internet connection is broken or if the Cloud server loses connectivity.

Private Cloud models offer a viable solution for asset owners wanting to leverage Cloud technology while retaining control over their technical asset information within a privately hosted environment.

Private Clouds are built for a single client, leading to higher infrastructure and management costs – but also enhanced security. This model offers many of the benefits of Public Cloud deployment, without requiring the 'sharing' of resources.

Hybrid Cloud models combine two or more Clouds to effect deployment. The greatest advantage of this model for EDM and AIM is that technical asset data is controlled, highly secure and remains locally available at all times – regardless of internet connectivity. Hybrid Cloud models combine the benefits of on-site storage of asset data with the scalability of Cloud-based deployment.[Page Break]

Thinking in the Cloud

Deployment models are not the only consideration that must be weighed when deciding whether or not to migrate to a Cloud-based EDM solution. For EDM and AIM applications, data security, any time access to data and a full audit trail are all essential requirements.  

The (Cloud-based) EDM solution also needs to offer sufficient functionality to support and optimise your business processes, ensure up to date as-built information and facilitate Management of Change (MoC) projects. In addition, the solution must assure regulatory compliance to protect your license to operate.

Attention should also be given to issues such as user training, password identification and logins, group filing systems and, of course, integration with existing enterprise, facility management and maintenance systems.[Page Break]

EDM in the Cloud

BlueCielo’s Cloud-based EDM solution offering is based on long-term experience across multiple industries, and has been successfully implemented for customers for more than five years.

BlueCielo’s solutions can be deployed independent of the operating system, either in a Hybrid Cloud, or in a Private Cloud or hosted on-site. Management of Change project data can be managed through an existing LAN (Large Area Network), while data from both the Plant and Project environments are made accessible through the Cloud.

Key capabilities include master data management, asset information management, global collaboration and data exchange, transmittal management and trusted security protocols.

In addition, BlueCielo’s solutions support a full audit trail and compliance with governmental, environmental, safety and quality regulations.
Our sophisticated software solutions are backed by dedicated service and support teams, who offer user training, helpdesk support and customization to meet your specific business needs, while our global Partner network connects you with local support in your language.

BlueCielo solutions are not only effective – they are also easy to use. User-friendly interfaces, advanced search options, customizable reports and workspace configuration combine with automated workflows and version control to ensure that your engineering data drives your projects – and leads your business to success.

BlueCielo Cloud-based EDM solutions offer the following business benefits:

* Independent of operating systems.
* Integrated with mainstream systems.
* Global accessibility through browser-based application.
* Scalable to support the relevant number of users.
* 24/7 global availability of engineering data.
* All project documentation stored in a single, secure location.
* Full proof of control and traceability of master documents.
* Full audit trail for regulatory compliance.
* Reduced IT overhead costs.
* Quick implementation.   
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