US-based vendor Newforma has done a U-turn on its attitude to SaaS construction collaboration.
Some six years ago (June 2006), I wrote my first Extranet Evolution blog post about Newforma Project Center after reading some provocative statements about the merits of cloud-based construction collaboration solutions from Newforma executives Bob Batcheler and Ian Howell.
Condemning project extranets as “digital landfills” and insisting that “the ASP experience has no positive traction in AEC”, they attempted to justify their network-based system by making what I felt were alarmist and inaccurate statements about project extranets. OK, Newforma’s system may appeal to individual firms needing to share information across multiple offices, but, I argued in a point-by-point rebuttal, many AEC project teams are multi-disciplinary, multi-company, highly fragmented, geographically dispersed and often highly mobile. For them, ‘Cloud’-based Software-as-a-Service tools are a tremendous benefit, and had already achieved high AEC traction – a point also supported at the time by Autodesk (post).
Nonetheless, despite their anti-SaaS attitude, I have monitored Newforma from time to time ever since, noting, for example, how the company continued to rubbish SaaS solutions in an Eppstein Uhen case study (July 2007 post), and its 2009 marketing launch in the UK (August 2009 post).
However, it seems Newforma’s adamant anti-cloud attitude has begun to evaporate. An April 2012 white paper, “PIM in the cloud” (available here), by CEO Ian Howell presents:
“A pragmatic approach to project information management which recognizes that information needs to be managed both on-premise and in the cloud.” [emphasis added]
And one possible reason by the company’s U-turn: it was acquiring Denver, Colorado-based Attolist, the developer behind AEC-Sync, a web-based construction collaboration application (9 August 2012 news release). The deal will enable Newforma to offer a hosted solution as well as its existing enterprise solution (which in July 2012 had over 54,000 licensed users in 683 companies across 10 countries) so customers can choose either on-premise or cloud-based technologies. The AEC-Sync web-based collaboration offering will become part of the Newforma Project Information Management Solution under a new name: Newforma Project Cloud.
This puts Newforma on similar ground to UK-based McLaren Software, which – following a November 2012 acquisition by parent company IDOX – absorbed the former CTSpace SaaS solution into its portfolio (post), to provide a dual offering of on-premise and SaaS platforms (see Meeting McLaren, talking SaaS and on-premise).