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Computer Aided Design and Cloud Based Solutions
The popularity of cloud storage options such as Dropbox—although it wasn’t the first ever cloud storage system available on the market—is one of the factors that has seen the use of cloud storage solutions slowly replace physical hard disks in both offices and in the domestic front due to the ease of using cloud backed storage systems.
This popularity has also slowly but surely crept into the computer aided design software community after Autodesk released its AutoCAD 360 feature and Microstation followed suit with its Bentley Connect option, which leads us to the question of what exactly is cloud storage and why is it been integrated into most CAD software applications.
Cloud Based Storage Platforms
Cloud storage can be defined both in technical and non-technical terms for non-technical people to easily understand what the phrase means. In technical terms, cloud storage platforms are logical pools where digital data and files are stored.
But these logical pools are provided by physical servers which are generally owned by a cloud hosting company. While in lay man terms, cloud storage platforms can be defined as websites or mobile apps that provide you with the option of storing and accessing your computer/mobile files.
There are basically 5 important advantages of using cloud based storage platforms as one’s preferred means of saving data and outlined below are the five advantages and why they are important to Computer Aided Design.
- Cost: when running an organization—most notably start-ups and small SMEs—the need to maximize capital by cutting cost wherever possible is quite important to the long term health of that business. And for a CAD designer or design-based firm, the cost of purchasing large storage equipment, backing up design files and maintaining these storage tools to mitigate the risk of loss are quite expensive. This makes the use of cloud storage platforms a must use for individuals/organizations dealing with large design files
- Security: security for stored data cannot truly be guaranteed by any storage solution currently in the market for every saved file runs the risk of been lost, mistakenly deleted or stolen by hackers. But the uses of cloud based storage platforms eliminates the possibility of loss and mistaken deletions through periodic back-ups and restore motions. Although the problem of hacking is something even cloud based storage platforms experience, designers generally do not work on files or save files that need such high level of security.
- Collaboration: once data is stored in the cloud, all that is needed to access it is the right username and password, thereby making the stored files available to anyone with the right username/password combination. This feature simplifies collaboration for a group of CAD users, engineers or architects working on similar projects. Most BIM CAD software applications integrate the use of cloud to make collaboration among a group of people possible, regardless of their individual location.
- Sharing: CAD users can easily share portfolios and working projects on almost any platform they choose if the right cloud based platform is used. The average designer using DropBox or AutoCAD 360 can easily share design ideas to his/her colleagues mail, or simply upload some portfolio designs on social media platforms—LinkedIN, Facebook etc.—in a bid to create awareness on his/her design skill.
Let me end this discourse by making a prediction; by the end of 2016, every CAD software or app will be designed with an integrated cloud storage base as a standard feature for every release, which will eliminate the need to pay for unnecessary storage space from independent Cloud based platforms.