Cloud computing is one of the many advances in technology that have been recorded in the 21st Century. These days we utilize the service of cloud computing in our daily lives without even knowing it. The email services that we use are a good example of this. These services are not given by our computers but through our access to the cloud.
In previous times, companies used to spend a fortune on managing and maintaining their large data centers. The expenses are not limited there; the companies periodically spent a large amount of their expenses on keeping the data center up to date. Cloud computing has significantly reduced these operating expenses. Companies can now outsource their infrastructure to larger companies that specialize in cloud computing for a fraction of the operating cost of a data center. This has enabled smaller companies to effectively compete with larger and older companies.
Cloud computing has changed the landscape of many fields and the field of architecture is not an exception to this. Architects are now using the cloud for services other than storage of files. Anyone that has worked in the field of architecture can attest to the fact that the work of an architect is capital intensive. This is due to the high initial cost of buying top notch tools and equipment that are needed in order to do a quality job. This problem has plagued both large architectural firms and freelance architects for a long time.
Rendering is one of the processes involved in creating an architectural design. It is the process of creating a three dimensional image of the intended architectural design. Rendering is known for being cumbersome amount of work even for computers with high processing powers. This has forced architects to look for other means of performing this task. This is what brought us to cloud computing.
Cloud computing is the use of remote computer system resources without the direct management of the user. The large architectural firms are immensely benefited due to the cloud computing technology. These firms have numerous architects working for them and these architects need expensive hardware to guarantee a respectable level of quality in their work. The need for expensive hardware arises from the fact that rendering is a crucial part of the architectural design process and it can’t be done efficiently by a regular computer. At the very least it requires large gaming computers with large graphics processing units (GPUs). These computers are expensive as compared to regular computers.
Big architectural firms aren’t the only ones that benefit from the cloud based rendering technology. Freelance architects are also immensely benefited by this. These architects can finish rendering works that usually take hours in a fraction of that time. With the conservation of time it is important to check if quality of work is maintained. With cloud based rendering, it is maintained. It produces great results in a very short time. This is not limited to simple rendering works but also complex analyses where high quality light simulation is required. The fact that it conserves time is not the only advantage; the computers used by the architects are spared the tedious work of the rendering work, leaving enough processing power for the architect to work on another project. This translates to more projects finished in a small amount of time, which in turn translates to more income. In addition to this, architecture students are also benefited by this because they no longer have to fight over the small number of powerful computers that the universities possess. This improves the quality of learning.
The cloud based rendering process is done by the architect uploading into the cloud a file that needs rendering and hiring a remote virtual machine with an immensely better GPU that does the job in comparatively little time with good quality. Of course this service is not free but the cost is negligible when compared to the tedium and expenses encountered when the architect is rendering using his/her own computer. For example, Octane, a popular cloud rendering service provider, charges as little as $0.024 per minute. This “per minute” payment schedule allows the architect to only pay for the times that he/she is using the virtual machine and not pay when the virtual machine is down.
With all this said you may think that cloud based rendering requires an extensive amount of knowledge in the field of information technology. If you think that then you are mistaken. These services are being designed for the use of architects and these architects are not expected to have extensive IT knowledge. All the architects need to do is connect to the cloud rendering service provider and use the virtual machines with powerful GPUs as if these GPUs were inside their personal computer.
All these previous mentioned attributes point to the fact that cloud based rendering has made architectural work easier and cheaper to a large extent. With these advantages it is expected that the competitiveness in the architectural world will greatly increase and with that, so will the quality of the designs.