Earlier this year, Phil Friday worked with Thunderhead Engineering’s Bryan Klein to pioneer a new IT strategy for running FDS and Smoke View in the Cloud. Thunderhead Engineering developed PyroSim, a graphical user interface for FDS file development. Together, we figured out how to outsource our fire protection analysis processing needs for PyroSim to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

That decision has changed the way we do business, and it’s setting us apart from the competition.

New Opportunities

In 2011, if someone had asked us to conduct a fire protection analysis of a million-square-foot building, it would have been a costly undertaking. We have certainly been able to complete commercial projects; however, our IT resources could only reach so far.

Now, with Amazon Web Services, we don’t need to go out and buy and configure bunch of computers. We simply lease the resources from AWS.

Accelerating Response Speed

AWS has a user-friendly interface, but setting up the rental still requires technical expertise. Leasing high performance computers, also known as instances, involves a number of challenges. First, the project requirements are translated into the number of processors, or clusters needed to do the job. Then, the cluster requires further organization. Storage space must also be allocated.

Originally, we hired an IT consultant to teach us how to set up a successful cluster. The project took several days to complete. Since then, we’ve cut down that time significantly. We’re now beginning to discuss offering turnkey solutions for using FDS/SMV in the cloud for others who have needs similar to ours.

Leasing the hardware is simpler, less costly, and more reliable. Most importantly, it allows us to serve clients of any size in a short period of time. We’re excited to see where this leads.

By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.