To paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, Well, he would, wouldn’t he! Following my recent blog post about his move to Netherlands-based SharePoint reseller Cadac Organice, Gert-Jan de Kieviet (right) talked to me about his move from Sword-CTSpace and his somewhat controversial view that Microsoft SharePoint is the future of construction collaboration.
BuildOnline and CTSpace
In the mid-2000s, Gert was MD Europe at BuildOnline during the final months of Mark Suster’s reign. After Suster’s departure – taking “BuildOnline Lite” (ie: Koral) to Salesforce.com (post) – Gert believes it suffered due to dithering among its post-merger leaders as they tried to sort out the future product strategy. Then its second owner Sword developed a new Software-as-a-Service platform (FusionLive – post) but on-premise solutions (formerly Cimage) turned out to be much more attractive, especially for the owner/operators – a market that initially Sword targeted heavily with its SaaS products. This experience obviously coloured Gert’s view of SaaS solutions and influenced his decision to join Cadac Organice.
SharePoint is the future
I used SharePoint for an intranet project in the early 2000s – and hated it! Gert shared my view that early versions of SharePoint were poor, but he believes SharePoint 2007 marked a turning point. “I now think SharePoint is the iPhone of the ECM (entrprise content management) world,” he said. “There is now a thriving market in which you can find plug-in applications to meet just about any need,” he continued, then enthusing about SharePoint tools that allow architecture, engineering and construction users to check-in/check-out documents and drawings, to manage workflows and transmittals, and to manage drawing mark-up and commenting. He told me Cadac’s Organice Explorer also provides integration with AutoCAD, MicroStation and Revit, providing a solution for Building Information Modelling (BIM) based on Microsoft SharePoint (a key requirement, he said: “now, every third client wants BIM”).
Once enthusiastic about the potential of Software-as-a-Service, Gert said his final months at Sword-CTSpace revealed a considerable demand from on-premise solutions among owner-operators, and we debated the pros and cons of SaaS versus on-premise in terms of their cost and flexibility. In his new Cadac role, of course, he said he was now “100% convinced about the advantages of on-premise solutions”, and said customer interest in SharePoint was stimulating 10-15 sales leads a week at Cadac Organice. But he did admit that, for the project delivery requirements of a dispersed team, there would still be demand for SaaS-based delivery – which conveniently took us on to Cadac’s latest news.
SharePoint in the cloud
Our conversation coincided with the Autodesk Cloud announcement, and simultaneously Cadac issued a news release saying it had teamed up with tier 1 hosting provider Rackspace to offer SharePoint-based engineering document management and control “in the cloud”. As companies are not always able to set up and maintain an on-premise SharePoint infrastructure, or may need a project environment at short notice, Cadac Organice can now offer clients a hosted environment with the option to revert from SaaS to on-premise at a later date if required. The cloud option has been available to customers since 1 September 2011 and is already being used by companies like FMC Technologies, Weatherford, Royal Haskoning and VolkerInfra (Cadac hosted a webinar about its cloud solution on 4 October 2011).