Using Cloud Automation to Build a Solid Foundation
[ Article was originally posted on www.constructconnect.com ]
For example, the annual JBKnowledge ConTech Report has repeatedly found construction firms spend less than 1% of their total sales revenue on technology. In 2019, the survey noted that 51% of those surveyed reported having a dedicated IT department with an average of only 1-5 people.
However, for those of us who work in construction technology, our job is to be hyper-focused on helping construction pros manage their preconstruction workflows from a single platform, build stronger relationships, and increase collaboration with takeoff tools that seamlessly integrate.
Using Load Balancing to Go Faster
Just ask Will LaSeur, DevOps Engineer, who is tasked with building out ConstructConnect’s cloud infrastructure to deliver a faster, more efficient experience for our customers. “We’re building new applications and using the cloud and load balancing to make sure it is highly available, running fast, and that our customers have the best experience possible,” he said.
When you look under the hood of the cloud initiative at ConstructConnect, you’ll find an IT team busy at work moving the entire infrastructure to the cloud. By building this infrastructure, the team can use servers in different geographic locations—from Oregon to Iowa to Virginia—to load balance and scale applications.
“If an application is running slow, we can just scale it out with the cloud—instead of adding new resources,” Will said. With servers across the country, customers will likely first hit the server in their geographic area, which can make for faster processing times. “If you’re coming from an East Coast location you can bounce to the closest geographic location or next, we can load balance you to the next available server,” he added.
Cloud Automation Takes Center Stage
By using cloud automation, ConstructConnect can build an immutable infrastructure. With a traditional server environment, servers are constantly modified in place with new code and configuration files tweaked on a server-by-server basis.
With an immutable infrastructure, servers are never modified after they’re deployed. If something needs to be updated, fixed, or modified, new servers are built and deployed. As such, the older structure will still be there running the applications until the servers are provisioned to replace the old ones.
“This is the biggest piece of what we’re doing. This allows monitoring to kick off as we have a self-healing infrastructure,” Will said. As ConstructConnect continues to build out its cloud infrastructure, plans call for migrating all product offerings to the cloud. “We’re moving all of our hosting to the cloud. We are doubling down on the cloud with many of our products already migrated there like SmartBid and PlanSwift,” Will said.
With cloud automation, ConstructConnect can create a faster, more scalable, and resilient infrastructure for customers. “The biggest benefit for this type of automation toolset is quicker recovery time. If you have a problem, we can just hit the redeploy button. It’s much simpler than having to dig through logs,” Will added.
Most importantly, automation is allowing ConstructConnect to move away from the data center so all products are hosted in the cloud. “It offers us more flexibility. The great thing about automation is that we don’t have to troubleshoot, we can just redeploy an earlier version and build the new infrastructure when it’s needed,” Will explained.
Not Your Grandfather’s Tech Company
Having joined ConstructConnect nearly two years ago, Will is excited to be part of a team that is “always willing to push the envelope as hard as we can.” Joining the team from a large Fortune 500 company, he has found his role at ConstructConnect challenging. “It’s good for me. I love being able to try new technology and finding if there’s a better way to do it,” he said.
What he finds most exciting is that the IT group has built a very open culture where ideas can be tested. “Do you have an idea? We can build it,” he explained. Working for a department that is “super heavy on collaboration,” Will loves that much of the innovation often comes from the bottom-up—rather than from the top-down.
ConstructConnect, Will said, is uniquely positioned to educate the construction industry on how technology can be used to improve their productivity and profitability. “We’re getting there, we’re doing a better job at showing the construction industry the advantages of technology and how the cloud can deliver a better customer experience,” he added.
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