Cloud or fog?

Reading the article entitled “Lifting the fog on cloud adoption” in the The Age recently certainly reminded us of a lot of conversations we have with clients and potential clients, who have heard a lot about ‘this cloud thing’ and wonder if it’s for them. For the reasons in the SMH article and some other reasons we’ve blogged about before, businesses need to consider this on a case by case basis.

To recapitulate the big thinking points:

  • Speed of access.
    If your full data set is in the cloud, hope that your data aren’t large, or that you’re on the NBN. Clients like architects or photographers, with huge data files, will still struggle.
  • Transitioning issues and costs.
    As the Age article points out, the initial implementation of cloud can be very expensive. Of course, new on-site server implementations aren’t free either, but the level of complexity is often less.
  • Organisation-wide view.
    The cloud might look advantageous for some parts of your business, but are there other parts of your business that require maintaining a local server? If there are, will you be duplicating infrastructure, or disrupting cross-functional workflows?
  • Security and compliance.
    You may have obligations in regard to the private data of individuals you store in the cloud. For readers in Victoria, the Privacy Commissioner offers a good summary of your business’s privacy obligations when outsourcing.

If you’re at all confused by this cloud thing, don’t hesitate to drop us a line and we’ll try to set you straight without sounding too nebulous…

3D Printing is ready for you

We’ve had our eye on 3D printing technology for a while. Apart from being blow-you-away cool, it’s the kind of tech that is a game-changer for any company working in the design space. It’s another way for architects to communicate with clients; a fly-through you can hold. It’s real-time prototyping without the pain and drudgery of hand-assembled models. It speeds up iterations on practically any design process. And all this utility adds up to dollars. Forbes thinks the industry will be worth over $3b in 4 years time. Of course, bigger firms are already making use of 3D printing, and there are plenty of industrial-strength options for them.

But it’s the consumer space that’s getting increasingly exciting, and not least because it’s getting increasingly cheap. The recent announcement of the Replicator 2, a ~$2,000 consumer 3D printer made in Brooklyn tells the story. It prints with a resolution of 100 microns, and has a printable volume up to 410 cubic inches. Here’s it producing a replica of a building in Paris:

It’s not the only one, either, a number of companies have brought similar products with similar features to market. Marketplaces and communities are springing up to create ecosystems around these great devices, like those at Thingiverse and Cubify.

All this movement at the low end of the market is great for businesses. We think the potential for crossover into small and medium architects, designers and engineering firms here is enormous. While lacking high-end features, these print boxes provide an entry point to the technology that’s cheaper than a high-end SLR. Features will filter down from the high-end to the low-end, too. And in case you’re wondering, they’ll be available in Australia soon, and the price looks like it’ll be a very reasonable premium on top of the US list.