A Data Management Wake-Up Call for All CAD Managers10 Mar, 2015 By: Robert Green
Network technologies are changing with the times, and your data management strategy must follow suit — or it will put your company at risk.
Enter the Cloud?
Another real concern is the increasing likelihood that you will be pressed into managing CAD data in a cloud architecture, if you haven't already made the move. More companies are getting rid of local servers and backup resources to control IT costs, and are thus more likely to utilize an offsite cloud provider — such as Box or Dropbox for Business — for data storage.
While storing and managing data on cloud servers isn't a bad idea in itself, it does raise questions that must be addressed, such as:
How will slower speeds between the user and the cloud — as compared to the fast speed of a local server — impede CAD users?
Will managing file revisions and overwrites to the cloud server require new workflow procedures?
How will slower speeds affect the ability to recover any required files, and will the time lag be acceptable? (Recovering several GBs of project data can take many hours with fast connections, or far longer with low-bandwidth connections.)
- If CAD data resides on a cloud-based server, how will branch offices interact with that data?
These types of issues can lead to severe workflow problems that typically revolve around the speed at which CAD data can move. If I've learned anything over the years, it is that CAD users hate anything that slows them down — and they will work around it!
Action Item #4: If you hear anything that suggests a move to cloud-based data servers is in your future, make absolutely sure to raise the above issues with your project management and IT staffs right away.
Action Item #5: If you perform any testing on cloud data server topologies, be sure to test with the absolute largest data sets you expect to work with at the slowest connection point on the WAN. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by testing with small files on high bandwidth connections.
Standard and Secure
Finally, any data management changes that do occur must be implemented as standards, or you'll have anarchy. Some of the mistakes I've seen companies make by not standardizing include the following:
Allowing users to have their own personal Dropbox accounts that aren't under the company's control.
Allowing users to store company drawings on personal appliances such as tablets, phones, and portable hard drives instead of the official company cloud storage solution.
- Allowing users to copy files from cloud servers to local drives to achieve faster CAD application performance while leaving the cloud files available for others to use. (This can lead to parallel revisioning and a total loss of file control!)
The risk to your company is extremely high if any of the above scenarios are allowed to happen. Not only can file control be lost, but security can be easily compromised if your CAD files are copied to devices that aren't protected.
Action Item #6: If you see any hint of the above scenarios in your workplace, put your project management and IT staffs on immediate notice. Do not wait until your CAD data is corrupted, mismanaged, or lost to complain!
No matter how smoothly your data management systems may work today, the savvy CAD manager should keep in mind that things change constantly, and a new set of data management challenges are always on the horizon. The question is, how can you proactively plan for them?
I'll be exploring data management challenges and tools more thoroughly in the next few months. In the meantime, I hope this wake-up call serves as a checklist to make sure your data management strategies are on track. Until next time.