You’ve probably come across phrases like “cloud-based” or “web-based” while looking at software or services to help your business. The cloud simply refers to a network of computers and servers connected to the internet. Cloud-based and web-based can be a bit confusing, but usually they just mean that the software or service you’re looking at either leverages cloud data storage or is something that you access and use through a website (as opposed to software that must first be installed on your computer to use.)
A product or service that you use through your web browser or an app on your phone like accessing your bank account or using your email is web-based. Other than a web browser or sometimes a mobile app, you don’t need to install special software to access your bank or check your email. Nowadays many products and services in the construction industry fall into this category. This has many advantages, but it obviously comes with one significant drawback: an internet connection will be required for most or all features of that product or service.
On the other hand, cloud-based products and services usually refers to data storage services like iCloud, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. You can access these from a web page, an app, or install them to your computer to use them. (Your smart phone or operating system has probably bothered you to try cloud-based data backups more than once.) These tend to be slightly more flexible than web-based applications and some of their core functionality can be maintained without an internet connection.
Finally, there are software or services that are partially cloud-based or have cloud-based features. PrebuiltML software for example, installs and run locally on your computer rather than by accessing a web page. This means it can be used without a constant internet connection, but it can also leverage cloud-based storage and connectivity features. You can do your work offline, and PrebuiltML Hub keeps track of your files and syncs the data between your device, the cloud, and others on your team.
To recap, construction software and services can fall into one of three buckets:
- No cloud/web capabilities. No internet connection required. You can work offline, but you may be missing out on modern features and conveniences.
- All cloud/web based. You get modern features and conveniences, but a constant and solid internet connection will be required.
- Hybrid. Core functionality works offline, but an internet connection provides additional features and functionality. (With PrebuiltML, you’ll get cloud data backups, team communication and more.)
The continued development of cloud features and web-based products and services will be the norm for the foreseeable future. Keeping yourself informed and aware of what these features do will help ensure that you’re getting the most out of them and choosing best services for your business.