The digital evolution in the construction industry has brought a wealth of opportunities for construction companies to increase cost efficiency, offer better client experiences and differentiate themselves in the market. To stay ahead of the game, a report by consulting firm Oliver Wyman finds it crucial for companies to re-evaluate their digital ecosystems and incorporate building information modelling (BIM) as the backbone of their digital strategies.
As one of Hong Kong and Asia’s leading construction companies, Gammon is an early adopter of BIM technology and a trailblazer in the industry. BIM forms the foundation of its Integrated Digital Project Delivery (IDPD) vision, which digitally integrates the full construction value chain from planning and design to construction, maintenance and more. With this shift, a large volume of data is generated throughout, from scanning, mapping, progress and incident monitoring to inventory management. While traditional 2D drawings may hold just a few MB of data, a single BIM model can easily go over 100MB, with some even reaching 1GB. Managing data growth at this scale requires a more structured approach to protect critical information assets.
A key business need for Gammon is to restore archived data for project references when bidding for a new tender, thus data retention and availability becomes critical for business success. Emails are especially important assets as industry regulations require documents and correspondence to be retained for at least 8 to 12 years after a project is completed.
Historically, Gammon’s backups have been tape-based, making it difficult and time-consuming to retrieve specific files. The IT team would restore the whole set of data before searching for the requested file. If the file version was wrong, they had to repeat the whole process. As a result, gathering all historical data needed for a tender could take more than a month. This prompted Gammon to look for a more efficient backup solution.
“Time is of the essence in the construction industry. When a site requires us to provide emails as evidence, we need to trawl through our email archives. If this process takes too long, we run the risk of exceeding the time limit, which can incur legal costs,” said Joseph Chan, Senior Manager, Information Security and Operations at Gammon.
To bring a construction project to life in the digital era, enabling effective collaboration is another priority. Gammon’s over 4,000 employees across different teams collaborate on Microsoft Office 365 (O365), with Microsoft Teams used as a key communication tool across all levels, and SharePoint used to share files externally with clients, partners and subcontractors.
The recent COVID-19 health crisis has only accelerated the need for effective remote working and protecting O365 workloads is critical to ensure business as usual. While Microsoft has native backup, the retention period is limited and does not have 100% restore guarantee during disaster recovery. With Gammon’s cloud-based business model, it requires a reliable Cloud Data Management solution to keep the business online for 24/7 operations across Asia.
To protect its production environment on O365, Gammon deployed Veeam® Backup for Microsoft O365 with NetApp storage to optimize backup and recovery speeds. Chan shared, “We selected NetApp as it has good integration with Veeam, and the E-Series meets our requirement to store over 500TB of O365 data on a consolidated platform that is scalable and easy to manage. Since we do daily backups to our NetApp hardware, even if O365 goes down, we have an updated copy of our data.”
Gammon has also used the Veeam® Availability SuiteTM for backup and recovery in the past five years. At each project site, Veeam sends backups to Gammon’s head office, which the IT team replicates to an offline server for easy access. IT efficiencies have also improved Gammon’s productivity by helping engineering teams retrieve historical data needed for tenders in a week or two. In the past, the IT team needed at least five days to restore an entire data set from tape archives, and manually locate the requested file. Veeam’s file-level restores has made it easy to search for and restore a single file in the database, shortening each restore process to just a few hours.
With time and resources freed up from managing data, the IT team can now invest the time and resources saved on advanced innovation such as developing 5G solutions to enhance real-time site monitoring. Moving forward, digital technologies will be a cornerstone of every construction project. Gammon’s comprehensive data protection strategy with the Veeam Availability Suite and Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 gives the business confidence to scale on the cloud.
In summary, Chan shared, “Our adoption of Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 was very timely as the COVID-19 situation worsened and accelerated the need for remote working and real-time data availability. This trend is set to stay, and data protection will become even more important. We are glad that Veeam takes care of our data on the cloud so we have the resources and confidence to focus on building more innovative solutions that will revolutionize our construction business.”
Headquartered in Hong Kong, Gammon has a reputation for delivering high-quality projects throughout China and Southeast Asia. Its integrated business focuses on civil, building, foundations, electrical and mechanical, facades and interiors works and design, and its construction services division provides considerable plant and steel fabrication and concrete production capabilities. With an annual turnover of US$2.5 billion and over 7,000 staff, Gammon has one of the strongest technical teams in Southeast Asia. The company is owned by Jardine Matheson, an Asian-based conglomerate with extensive regional experience, and Balfour Beatty, a world-class engineering, construction, and services group.
One of Hong Kong and Asia’s leading construction companies, Gammon Construction is an early adopter of building information modelling (BIM) technology. However, large data volumes generated by BIM models and the need for long-term retention compelled the business to take a more structured approach to data management and protection. Construction work requires intensive collaboration among multiple stakeholders, and with the rise in remote working due to COVID-19, teams in Gammon need to collaborate effectively on the cloud. Having recently moved its production environment to Microsoft Office 365, Gammon needed a solid business continuity plan to keep construction projects running 24/7 across Asia.