According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute, Digital Transformation in the engineering and construction (E&C) industry can increase productivity by up to 15%, and reduce costs by up to 6%. Keeping up with industry changes, Clough Group has embarked on its own digitization journey to improve business processes.
As an industry leader, Clough has implemented new technologies such as drone-based 3D modelling to evaluate the topography of its construction sites, as well as track progress of its projects. New options were also made available for processes like quality tracking of equipment. For instance, construction managers can now capture images of equipment and project sites, updating their status accordingly in the project controls lifecycle. These new digital innovations, coupled with the proliferation of smart devices, have amounted to vast amounts of data, which were generated not only from application files, but also different systems. From 1GB per day in the past, the team is looking at 10-20GB of data generated per day now. This is set to grow further as Clough continues to innovate and create more data; as well as utilize data warehousing to help clients improve their decision-making process.
In tandem with data growth, data storage is another important aspect of the IT team’s focus. In the E&C industry, storing historical data and keeping a comprehensive archive has been a continuous challenge. Companies like Clough need to be able to provide designs and documentation for as long as the contract or the agreement dictates. On average, Clough holds itself responsible for keeping project data for 7 years. In the case of critical infrastructure, records are sometimes even kept up to 30 years.
Jing Leong, Chief Integration and Security Officer, Clough, said: “The challenge for us at Clough is making sure that we retain the data that we need for contractual and legal obligations. We recognize the value of and see the need for data classification, which can help us deal with potential litigation issues or disputes on the construction projects we manage.”
Another key tenet of Clough’s Digital Transformation is its transition towards the public cloud. As one of the early adopters in the industry, Clough realized the benefits of the transition to cloud for business expansion and scalability. By moving away from a physical data center to a more virtualized public cloud environment, Clough was able to venture into new markets such as Mongolia, North America, Canada, and the UK — markets where it does not have physical infrastructure. The public cloud environment also enables easy scalability of workloads as projects ramp up.
Hussain Munir, Security Manager, Clough, said: “We believe that moving to the public cloud will help Clough take its data management processes to the next level. With the public cloud, we can easily expand our storage capacity and scale up our projects. The initial costs of entry are low, and we will only pay for what we store, even as our data footprint continues to grow.”
As part of the move to cloud, Clough’s legacy software applications that were previously held in legacy data centers can now be consolidated in the cloud. With the growing importance of data as an asset and in its bid to modernize the business, Clough requires a data protection partner that can share the same kind of future focus.
Veeam’s quick backup, restores and snapshot features help Clough to meet its data protection needs by enabling the Group to back up hundreds of virtual servers, applications and databases in a day. The secure and efficient backups afforded by Veeam gives Clough the confidence to back up the files on the servers, as well as the databases and applications that live on the server.
Clough was also able to migrate its critical data and applications to the cloud with the help of Veeam. After exiting from its previous managed service provider (MSP), Veeam successfully helped Clough to back up its physical server and restore it in a virtual environment. As Veeam’s backup is hardware and application agnostic, it provides Clough with the flexibility to migrate across various systems with ease.
Clough primarily operates in a Windows environment and has recently decided to migrate to Microsoft Azure to streamline its IT deployments. Veeam’s Instant VM Recovery, a feature of Veeam Backup & Replication, which allowed Clough to migrate a significant number of servers from across data centers, ensured that the shift took place with minimal downtime. Apart from time savings, the Instant VM Recovery feature also allowed for simultaneous instant recovery of multiple VMs during the move, and from a legacy VMware environment to a more modern VMware environment.
Hussain Munir, Security Manager, Clough, said: “We like that Veeam is very agile, and we can choose any endpoint or environment we want. Even if we decide to switch cloud providers like Azure, AWS or Google, we can restore our backups to any environment, whether virtual or physical. Without being restricted to a specific product, our disaster recovery plan is now more robust.”
As a project-based company, Clough is directly accountable to clients. It is imperative that it maintains productivity and hit project milestones through constant communication and collaboration. Office 365, Clough’s main collaboration tool and repository of working files, is thus crucial for the company’s business continuity as it allows employees working across different locations and construction sites to communicate with each other, access resources, drawings, and provide updates to clients within specified timelines. Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 eliminates Clough’s risk of losing access and control over their Office 365 data by backing up frequently used applications such as Microsoft Teams, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business.
The adoption of Teams in Clough has been particularly exponential, with employees creating their own Teams for collaboration work such as calls and sharing of documents. Version 5 of Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365, which includes purpose-built backup and recovery for Microsoft Teams, has been especially helpful for Clough. It provides the company with complete control and protection over their Teams data including entire teams, specific channels, and settings. Previously, Clough could not restore data automatically, and had to undergo multiple steps to retrieve information. Now, Clough can use Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Teams to achieve an efficient, automated recovery experience.
The v11 update of Veeam Backup & Replication is also set to be a gamechanger for Clough. The archive-to-cloud feature will allow Clough to automatically move older archive data to cheaper storage: Archived Tier in Azure. Given the large volume of archive data that Clough has, this feature is expected to result in significant time and cost savings.
“Veeam’s fast upgrade and enhancement cycles give us confidence that the company is continuously improving their product. With a focus on features in the public cloud, Veeam’s products complement our move away from legacy infrastructure. Our growth plans are in line with Veeam’s updates, and a large number of feature updates have directly helped us with the deployments we’ve been rolling out,” Jing Leong, Chief Integration and Security Officer, Clough, said.
Established in 1919, Clough is a pioneering engineering and construction company in Australia delivering sustainable assets for the infrastructure, resources and energy industries. The company provides full-spectrum services across the entire value chain of a project, from concept development and detailed design to procurement; fabrication to construction; and commissioning to long-term asset support. Key projects Clough has been involved in include the Narrows bridge, which connects the South of Perth to the North of Perth, as well as the Snowy 2.0 project — the largest energy project issued in New South Wales. The company manages a global workforce of over 2,000 people from operating centers across Australia Asia Pacific, UK, and North America.
With the modernization of the engineering and construction industry, Clough has undergone significant Digital Transformation in order to drive business process improvement, resulting in a massive increase in data footprint to be managed. The strict compliance needs of the industry also mean that data assets relating to design and documentation has to be kept for the entire lifespan of projects, sometimes as long as 30 years. Data protection thus becomes crucial for successful implementations of projects and business continuity at Clough. As one of the early adopters of the public cloud in the industry, Clough also needed a forwardlooking partner that could help it transition its IT infrastructure to a more virtualized public cloud model.