10 reasons to not run your 3D CAD and BIM in the Cloud

10 reasons to not run your 3D CAD and BIM in the Cloud

Do you use electricity? Have you ever ridden an elevator? Is driving a car familiar? 

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, you’ve done something radical! Once upon a time, these were new technologies that were widely feared. But, as more and more people began using them, the benefits became incredibly obvious. 

By comparison, our cloud-based CAD and BIM platform is hardly revolutionary. Businesses and individuals have been using the cloud at a massive scale for the best part of 20 years now. But our innovation - we make working with CAD and BIM as fast, simple and secure as watching a movie on Netflix - is new and different. 

So, perhaps unsurprisingly, many people tell us of their fears about cloud-based CAD. Let’s hear some of these concerns out - and see if they're really such a big issue after all. 

10 reasons people fear cloud-based CAD and BIM

We often hear from business decision-makers who love the sound of cloud-based CAD or BIM. It’s way more convenient, generally cheaper and more efficient than relying on incredibly expensive CAD workstations. Designers can be more productive - and the freedom to work anywhere makes staff happier - among other benefits

Nevertheless, we frequently hear about people’s fears of the cloud too. Now, these doubts are totally valid. But, in most situations, we think we can overcome these concerns. 

Here are 10 reasons people say they’re wary of the cloud for CAD and BIM. 

1. How can I trust you to keep my data safe?

The kinds of CAD or BIM files that architects, engineers and designers work on contain incredibly valuable data and intellectual property. When your workstations and servers are physically located in your company’s buildings and behind a firewall, then you feel like you have much greater control over them. By contrast, storing all those sensitive files in some distant cloud data center just seems risky, right? 

Reality: The evidence showing cloud-based infrastructure is more secure than on-premises systems is now undeniable. As just one example, tech analyst Gartner has found that cloud infrastructure experiences around 60% fewer security incidents than the equivalent in on-premises data centers. 

The cloud is safer for CAD and BIM files than on-premises systems because:

  • Big cloud providers can invest far more money, time and people into cybersecurity than almost any individual company
  • Cloud data centers are physically secured and monitored 24/7
  • Cloud providers have staff constantly working to update patches, improve cybersecurity, make backups and encrypt data

Related: Safety when using cloud-based workstations

2. We can’t control all hardware specifications

Many companies have ‘their way’ of doing things. They trust certain equipment brands, they want servers with certain specifications, their techy guys like wiring stuff up in the basement… So, shifting tech to the cloud can feel uncomfortable. You have less control over what AWS, Azure, or indeed Designair are doing with your hardware. 

The reality: Unless spec-ing out hardware is actually a core part of your business, this seems like an irrelevant concern. If you use BIM or CAD to design machinery, buildings, pipelines or anything else, you need technology that lets you do that - and Designair definitely can. If it works, what does it matter which kind of driver is used in a data center somewhere? 

But if you do need reassurance, we are more than happy to tell you about the specs of hardware and equipment we use. Just ask!

3. They will sell my data and intellectual property to my competitors and/or give it to the government

We get it - you’re taking your valuable IP and placing it in our third-party cloud. There’s no telling what we’ll do with it! What if designair has a backdoor into your systems, and tries stealing your data and selling it to the highest bidder!

Reality: Designair is bound by strict privacy policies and compliance standards such as the GDPR (our HQ is in Germany). Look, if you use any cloud-based technology - be that project management tech, a CRM, or even email - you’re presumably comfortable with the same ‘risk’ as storing CAD/BIM files in our cloud. 

Besides the fact it would be unethical, illegal, and could land us in prison, the benefits to us of trying to sell customer data would be pretty limited anyway. Yes, maybe we could flog your widget design to a competitor. But the risk they’d do the right thing and report us means it just wouldn’t be worth it. 

4. How can I work when the internet is down? 

To work with CAD and BIM in Designair, your teams need an internet connection. So, what if the internet fails and your teams can’t do their work? 

Reality: When was the last time your company’s internet actually ‘went down’? According to a survey by the Uptime Institute, two-fifths of businesses have experienced no internet downtime in the last three years. Of those that have, the impact and duration was either ‘negligible’ or ‘minimal’ for the vast majority.  

There is a small risk your designers may, every couple of years, be unable to connect to their designs for a few minutes. But in the majority of cases, they can just go get a coffee, and by the time they’re back at their desks, the internet will be working again. No biggie. 

5. It’s way more expensive

If you buy a CAD or BIM workstation, you’ve got that machine for life (or at least a few years). It’s yours, and you don’t need to spend any more money on computing power. On the other hand, Designair would make you pay $80 per user, per month (or more) for a subscription. 

Reality: True, Designair does come with ongoing subscription fees. But think about it like this: your money pays for updates, support, security, flexibility and scalability - which we think is ultimately more cost-effective than maintaining on-premises workstations. 

And remember, if you stay on-premises, you’ll have to pay thousands of dollars in Capex to get updated workstations every few years. You’ll be paying electricity bills for all the juice those machines use. Those machines don’t run themselves, and IT administrators are not cheap. And if you need to expand your design team, buying them new devices will cost top dollar (while having idle machines when employees leave the business is also a waste of cash). 

Related: Designair can save 20% on tech costs compared to on-premises

6. It’s too slow for my super-duper 3D application

The best 3D CAD and BIM design apps are seriously power-hungry and put even the best workstations to the test. Since Designair is in the cloud, surely there’s a risk of latency? Your designers will start a riot if the response time is even a millisecond slower compared to using the app on premises. 

Reality: At Designair, many of our team have a background in the design industry. So we ‘get’ the need for speed and responsiveness. That’s why we optimized our cloud for performance. We’re confident we can compete with (or exceed) most on-premises solutions. 

But don’t just take our word for it - try it for yourself with a free trial

Read more: A primer on latency when using CAD or BIM in the cloud

7. It’s an island solution that doesn’t work with the rest of my systems

Your company doesn’t just use one CAD or BIM app. You’ve got a whole tech setup, with everything installed locally. There’s a whole process of people using these local tools - so putting one app in the cloud just wouldn’t fit into your workflows. 

Reality: If you have a stable internet connection, there’s no way that running 3D CAD or BIM in Designair is any different to running it on premises. It can slot into your other processes just as seamlessly - plus you get all the benefits of remote work, cheaper computing power, and flexibility. 

8. I’ll be ‘locked in’ to the Designair cloud

Using the cloud to run CAD or BIM apps is like that song Hotel California by The Eagles: “you can check out every time you like, but you can never leave”. If all our files are in Designair’s cloud, we can’t take them out or move them to another environment. We’ll be locked in for life!

Reality: We’re not in the business of trying to lock people into our services. Our subscriptions are annual or monthly, and you can roll them on or stop whenever you want. We give you an easy, self-service portal for uploading or downloading files, and you can spin up or remove computing instances whenever you want. 

H3/9. They won’t let me customize my 3D applications

It’s well-known that cloud apps can’t be customized freely. We need those shortcuts. We need our company’s logo visible in the top corner of the app. We need it to look and feel exactly like the on-premises tool we already use - or else it’s literally impossible to do any work!

Reality: Yes, there are some limitations with regards to changing the underlying technology architecture of your favorite CAD/BIM app in Designair. However, it offers the same general customization features you get out of the box with on-premises software (such as changing color schemes, adding logos, or changing interface layout). So, unless you need to make major changes to your CAD or BIM software’s underlying architecture, you’ll get all the personalization you need. 

10. Not every vendor supports running their software in Designair’s cloud

Some vendors still don’t permit a version of their 3D CAD or BIM software in the cloud. This means they don’t trust it - so neither do we!

Reality: It’s true that some vendors still haven’t embraced the cloud (though they’re getting rarer by the day), and some try to block their customers from using 3D software in the cloud. 

At Designair, we’re constantly talking with CAD and BIM vendors about making their technology available over our cloud, and we’re well on the way towards critical mass. If your vendor doesn’t yet make your preferred CAD or BIM app available on the cloud, it’s worth asking them if they are more interested in their short-term profits than in your long term success. 

Working Cloud-based with CAD and BIM software is here to stay

With its flexibility, scalability and ease of use, cloud-based CAD and BIM is here to stay. Yes, it’s a new way of working. And it’s true that it’s a little different to what’s come before. But with its enormous advantages, we’re confident that once you’ve tried it, you won’t go back. 

Want to give cloud-based CAD and BIM a try? We offer a free trial. Want to learn more? Schedule an introductory meeting today. 

About the author - Don Rekko