Server as a service – BIMcloud aaS convinced ArkOpen

BIMcloud has enabled Archicad teams to work together flexibly. However, someone needs to make sure that servers and connections are working as they should. Through BIMcloud as a Service, it is convenient to outsource these technical issues. A Helsinki-based architect agency ArkOpen didn't leave it out notice.

Niittyportti 2 is a dense residential area in Espoo, Finland. Get more information about ArkOpen's projects online:  © ArkOpen Oy 

Many industries are moving towards digitalization, and architecture following. For Archicad users, building information modeling (BIM) has been their bread and butter for a good while. In an architect agency, the design team needs to focus on its core competence, and technical adjustments shouldn't take a critical part of the day. BIMcloud is a vital part of today's teamwork, but the infrastructure isn't building itself.

Charm of freedom

BIMcloud Basic offers many architect agencies a free solution to get things going. However, growing demands might cause restrictions. Then, the answer is the full BIMcloud, which provides more capacity and freedom in many ways. Full BIMcloud centralizes the management, and the number of users can be scaled. Several Archicad versions and BIMcloud servers can run side by side, the Reservation Assistant saves time, and remote connection works with ease. The comparison chart below highlights the benefits more in-depth.

Of course, the agency itself can deploy and maintain BIMcloud server hardware, if they have all the necessary resources: hands, time, and know-how. But if all this sounds a bit too much, the other option is to get BIMcloud as a Service (aaS). Let us explain a bit more.

Outsourced server 

BIMcloud aaS outsources all server work to trusted hands. Data is located in a GRAPHISOFT-hosted Google Cloud Server. For example, an architect working in the Nordics won't even notice the geographical distance or maintenance activity handled in the background. BIMcloud aaS is a full BIMcloud but is purchased and licensed as a service. The customer can select either monthly or yearly based charging. The price is based on the number of users, which can be flexibly adjusted.

BIMcloud aaS has already been an international success, and several Nordic agencies have switched to it. A global pandemic has pushed people to work more remotely and increased the need to run a business without place restrictions. Hence, choosing aaS has become even more relevant for many companies.

Story of ArkOpen

Architect agency ArkOpen is one of many Finnish companies using BIMcloud aaS. ArkOpen is focusing on building life-cycle management in building design. Naturally, as the agency was formed over 40 years ago, they have also pursued public sector projects, renovations, and city planning. At the moment, the team of seven is designing and developing varied housing projects from single homes to blocks of flats.

An agile design team of ArkOpen is working in Archicad's Teamwork environment on the BIMcloud server. Thanks to the BIMcloud as a Service, the team doesn't have to sacrifice critical working hours to maintain a server infrastructure. They can focus on their core competencies, which makes them smile.

ArkOpen operates across the board very BIM-centric. The transformation to this did not happen overnight: partner Juha Kämäräinen has seen how they have developed from drawing by hand to using 2D-CAD and finally Archicad. He himself has used Archicad as his primary tool since 1990.

Importance of teamwork

The need for building information modeling at ArkOpen rose as part of a demanding housing project in early 2000. The project required modeling where residents could tailor housing from flooring plans to nitty-gritty details. The project was run in cooperation with SATO, Tocoman, and Moor.

“Archicad was an obvious choice for architectural design and quantity calculation as the project required advanced BIM-based project management,” Juha explains.

For ArkOpen, BIM-based project management became the norm in 2015, but ArkOpen had understood the importance of teamwork much earlier. BIMcloud, according to Kämäräinen, saved the agency during the COVID-19 pandemic, and teamwork capability was a big part of it.

“BIMcloud allows you to choose whether to work face to face or remotely. I am sure we will alternate between these in the future the pandemic calms," he adds.

Transparency is the key

For ArkOpen, co-working with third parties has become manageable and efficient through BIMcloud.

“No more days when we needed a never-ending list of document copies, named finalfinalfinal21underconstruction," Kämäräinen laughs.

From now on, BIMcloud allows teams to share information with other architects and parties. The system can handle external documents: different model versions can be received, published, compared, and unified in one single place with full control.

Kämäräinen is excited about the new possibilities – especially the model comparison feature – and hopes to see the same kind of development also in the future.

Why BIMcloud aaS?

ArkOpen was selected as a pilot user in 2016 when GRAPHISOFT was testing the new BIMcloud as a Service. The agency has since considered BIMcloud aaS as an ideal solution for them.

BIMcloud as a Service is a full BIMcloud, including all premium features. Centralized management revolutionizes the management of projects, users, and roles. Each user has specified rights to manage, edit, or view relevant information. The admin manages the system. ArkOpen uses a simple structure, but if necessary, BIMcloud scales up for huge and complicated multidisciplinary teams.

“Inevitably, BIMcloud Basic started to restrict us. We weren't able to work as a solid team as we wanted to. It was difficult for us to manage our server due to the small resources. As we were looking to find a solution, we were offered a pilot opportunity, and immediately aaS felt like a perfect fit," Kämäräinen adds.

Kämäräinen believes there are many architect agencies just like ArkOpen in the Nordics – agencies who enjoy being nimble but experience infrastructural challenges. BIMcloud aaS is ideal for them, according to him. Kämäräinen recommends exploring Archicad's Teamwork environment before purchasing BIMcloud aaS for a smooth start.

Effortless launch

Kämäräinen thinks implementation was fast and efficient even back in the pilot era in 2016. GRAPHISOFT reacted fast, and issues were quickly solved. Issues and downtime have been extremely rare.

When it comes to the actual data transfer, the existing projects are transferred from the local server to the aaS server swiftly and straightforwardly. Existing data can also be restored to the local server – even after canceling the subscription. Security is all in all.

Flexible management

BIMcloud gives flexible control over project team members, too. Architectural projects are versatile and multi-phased, so the adjustable feature over role control is crucial. Also Kämäräinen can relate to that.

“In our team, we allow access to everyone to every project. This way, we can support each other and use the best solutions available. We add users fluently as needed – currently we have as many users as we have Archicad licenses,” Kämäräinen reveals.

Practical tip

Archicad's Hotlinks and XREF's are a great way to manage duplicate parts in the model – especially in housing design. All modules update automatically or by one click. Regarding modules, Kämäräinen has one tip:

“We used to use module files and linked projects. However, files located outside the cloud server were not updated precisely enough. Today, we save all linked files as team projects to BIMcloud, so the whole project data is in the same place and always up to date.”

Due to the BIMcloud improvements, MOD files can now be added directly to BIMcloud, making the process even more efficient.

Fresh power

BIMcloud is high on the GRAPHISOFT development priority list, just beside Archicad. Therefore, software gets frequent updates and four major updates a year, all free of charge for the users. What's even cooler, the customer does not have to do a single software update or settings adjustment. Could your BIM life get much easier?

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BIMcloud as a Service

BIMcloud aaS offers efficiency, flexibility, and cost-predictability regardless of the agency's size. BIMcloud aaS simplifies the infrastructure by outsourcing server hardware and maintenance with confidence. 

Get your BIMcloud aaS now!

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About Ville Nikunen

Ville Nikunen is a Communication Designer & Educational Relations Manager at M.A.D. He is a creative mind and passionate about writing, architecture, graphic design and making music. For a decade, Ville's job at M.A.D. has been to create appealing visuals and interesting stories within the AEC industry and the BIM world.
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