Is Your Multi-Site Facility Managed by Cloud Technology?

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

Cloud CityscapeWelcome to the second blog of this series! In my first post, I exposed the challenges of multi-site facility management. Resources are limited, building automation controls often simple, and getting useful and actionable information out can be nearly impossible.  As a result, almost a third of energy is often wasted and overall productivity suffers. For instance, most workers take significantly longer to complete a task if a room’s temperature isn’t right, according to a World Green Building Council study.

Cloud technology is trending

Traditionally, many small and medium-sized organizations had very little in the way of affordable and practical building management options. Fortunately, now there’s a solution and it revolves around Cloud-based technology. This trending technology allows companies to view and manage their entire enterprise of facilities in a centralized and consistent way. Yay! A nice win for multi-site facility managers – enabling improved savings and increased productivity.

The key is that by using the Cloud, you can outsource data storage, communication, and/or processing. With Cloud technology, products, services and solutions are delivered and consumed in real time over a network, IDC says. Cloud implementations come in different varieties: a public or multi-tenant, a private or single-tenant, or a mixed public-private hybrid configuration.

“The Cloud” is generally defined as off-premises data storage and processing.
“The Cloud” is generally defined as off-premises data storage and processing.

OK so, what does that really mean? It sounds as nebulous as the conglomerations of water vapor floating around in the sky. You know … clouds.


Well, the idea of Cloud technology is pretty concrete. Instead of purchasing and maintaining IT centers, you rent what you need when you need it. As a result, you can add or remove capacity and capabilities for a much lower cost and for much less work than is necessary with the traditional server farm approach.

Say you have a heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system that logs extensive data every five minutes. That information can be useful, but with such a system you can pile up gigabytes of data in no time. The traditional approach would mean building a server farm with enough storage and processing capacity to handle the load. Then you’d have to maintain it. On top of that, you’d have to deal with the networking and security issues.

Sample diagram of how enterprise interfaces with the Cloud.
Sample diagram of how enterprise interfaces with the Cloud.

Contrast that with the Cloud approach. You buy the processing and storage when you need it. Management and security are handled by the Cloud provider. So the challenge of that HVAC system can be solved for a lot less money and fewer hassles than would be the case for a traditional solution. Now, multiply that across as many systems and buildings that you manage and start to see how Cloud technology can help you cost-effectively meet the challenge of multi-site facility management.

Cloud technology is just … better.Cloud

To recap, a Cloud-based solution

  • is easy to deploy – after all, the technology is out-sourced
  • can collect and process data from anywhere and anytime
  • can be delivered to a computer, phone, tablet or any other platform
  • is easily scalable – expanding or shrinking as needed

Of course, the Cloud solution has to be well designed. It should, for instance, be able to grow without running into barriers, like slowing down a lot or even halting when the 10th or 100th system is added. If it is well architected, then data, like that from the HVAC system mentioned above, is sent to the Cloud, collected, combined, and delivered to decision makers. Adding more locations, even remote ones, is easy.

That’s what a solution should do: make things easier. By putting the power of the Cloud to work, you can now more easily attain this for your multi-site enterprise.

The third post in this series, “6 Benefits of a Cloud-Based Building Management System” (authored by my colleague, Shoumi Sen), dives deeper into what decision makers can do with building management system data and the resulting value of those capabilities. Or, catch the series from the start.

In the meantime, download this information-packed white paper, authored by the experts at Schneider Electric “Cloud-Based Building Management Systems for Multi-site Facilities“. And, as always, please feel free to share your thoughts on Cloud-based solutions for multi-site facility management below.

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  • If well designed , a cloud-based application will benefit from elasticity: this is what cloud computing is all about: automatic scale in and scale out
    But it introduces a big challenge : you have to “reach” the cloud (“sent to the Cloud”) and deliver content from the Cloud (“Deliver to the decision makers”).
    This is where the “magic” of the cloud stops: you can have the better cloud ever, if your customers can’t reach this cloud for any reason , you’re in trouble. Your cloud must be distributed (not monolithic) if you want to be Global , and you have to keep in mind that the Cloud is the Internet (a public network with no guarantee between the source and the destination) whatever your cloud is private , public, or hybrid.
    Now ask yourself why it is always responsive when you use google services (gMail, YouTube , …) and not with other “Clouds”

    • Simon Leblond

      8 years ago

      Hi Lionel, very valid point and that’s where leveraging IaaS cloud providers vs managing your own infrastructure makes so much sense.

  • Hi Lionel, thanks so much for the feedback. You make very valid and articulate points. Indeed, the magic has to stop somewhere! I am interested to see what others think. Thank you again for your thoughts!

  • Those are very valid assessments, Lionel – thank you for your comments! That is why it is imperative that we understand that not all cloud providers are created alike. Before choosing a cloud solution, we need to do our due diligence to understand what is being offered, what the risks are and what support mechanisms are in place to minimize (and even eliminate) the hiccups that you have mentioned.We have a white paper published on how even federal agencies can benefit from cloud computing, provided they chose the right solution.

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