In every industry, whether healthcare, manufacturing, financial services and many others, we're seeing accelerated adoption of cloud computing and Desktop-as a-Service (DaaS). Business decision makers are seeing less and less value in traditional IT skillsets that focus on keeping traditional IT machinery rolling. The reality is that with the rise of the public cloud, it makes little sense to keep all that infrastructure on-premises; most companies we talk to completely agree, and they are rejecting the complexity and cost of having on-premises datacenter infrastructure, physical desktops, and on-premises VDI in favor of the simplicity, reduced costs and agility of public cloud infrastructure and Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), usually deployed on Microsoft Azure or Amazon Workspaces. Beyond IT simplicity and cost reduction, DaaS contributes to business success in many other ways: Rapid deployment (time-to-value), secure remote access to apps and desktops from anywhere at any time, mobile productivity, improved data security, business continuity & disaster recovery, instant scalability and agility, and improved collaboration.
In a previous blog I wrote about DaaS being a game-changer for GPU-accelerated computing and its use cases. Today I want to focus in on how DaaS is modernizing the Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) industry. AEC professionals need to visualize, simulate and analyze complex CAD data, and they need to work collaboratively with other people who may be scattered across physical locations. With this amount of data involved, high-powered computing with access to the latest GPUs is essential. But what's the best way to make sure design engineers, architects, BIM managers and other AEC professionals get the compute power and performance they need anytime and anywhere?
Physical workstations - the weak link in the AEC chain
For AEC, the conventional wisdom has been that physical desktops are required to get the proper compute power. While the power is there, those physical workstations have created challenges and inefficiencies that impact an AEC firm's bottom line. Primary among these challenges is the difficulty of collaborating among virtual teams. Highly talented power-users are tethered to their desks, working away on graphics-intensive 3D modelling designs that involve huge datasets; at the same time they need to be able to collaborate on this complex work with colleagues as well as with external partners, some of whom may be in geographically dispersed locations - around the country and across the globe. The collaboration process for multiple people to contribute to a 3D model looks like this: Upload large dataset, wait. Download large dataset, wait. Sync large dataset, wait. Collaborators work on large dataset. Upload large dataset, wait. Rinse. Repeat. You get the picture. There's so much tedium and time involved for these valuable people to do their work - it's just not tenable. This "rinse and repeat"process can take hours or days depending on the size of the dataset. One can easily imagine the productivity loss as expensive employees and contractors wait around for never-ending data uploads and downloads, not to mention the inefficient idle-time of $3,000 physical workstations. It all adds up to longer project lead times which ultimately means lost revenue.
So that was quite a bit of bad news, but the fact is that you're only as strong as your weakest link, and for AEC companies that weak link is your physical workstations. As organizations face fierce competition, no one can afford to ignore opportunities to improve time-to-market and profitability. The good news is when it comes to high-performance computing, that opportunity is before you.
DaaS fixes the weak link, strengthens the chain
There's a whole bunch of benefits to moving away from physical workstations. By delivering high-performance workstations, data and apps from the cloud, AEC firms can support mobile productivity for engineers and designers who need to securely access their 3D computing power and 3D apps and data from a remote location, whether they're traveling to a remote office, a client site or a project site. And they can do all of this using any device, which provides the ultimate in flexibility.
Data and apps are stored securely in the cloud in one location. Co-locating all the resources (data, apps, compute and network) closer to the user reduces latency and provides a highly responsive end user experience, enabling real-time collaboration on the same 3D model while eliminating the wait time of transfering large datasets. Virtual workstations can be located close to end users through any of the global Azure datacenter regions that offer GPU-enabled VMs. And users will always have the latest and greatest GPU technology available - no more GPU envy! In addition, GPU-accelerated DaaS also provides these benefits: Eliminates hardware refresh cycles and the cost of network bandwidth for uploading/downloading large files; and enhances IT with improved desktop management and the ability to quickly provision and scale virtual workstations from a single pane of glass.
Improve Collaboration, Access to Talent and Business Agility
We're bringing more and more AEC firms into the Workspot family. As we listen to their stories, there are common themes. Most have design engineers and other AEC professionals geographically dispersed across the globe. Data lives across all these locations, and the engineers are constantly pushing and pulling it from one location to another as they try to collaborate on projects. They encounter version control problems and collaboration is difficult and slow. Onboarding new users takes way too much time and too many resources. And users find themselves stuck with old GPU technology in between 3 year hardware refresh cycles. All of these challenges can be alleviated by Workspot Cloud Workstations on Microsoft Azure. Our largest AEC customer now has data and apps centrally located in Azure, they've eliminated hardware refresh cycles, engineers have secure access to virtual workstations that free them to work from any device while mobile (and they are happy with the performance!), engineers collaborate in real-time with virtual teams, and IT can instantly provision users with access to the latest and greatest GPU technology.
Powered with Azure and NVIDIA GPUs, Workspot Cloud Workstations enable you to deliver GPU-intensive applications, data and high-performance workstations from the cloud or on-premises to users globally. Now you can employ the best skillsets, no matter where people reside. Users can securely access their workstations from anywhere on any device to efficiently collaborate with virtual teams in real-time. Easily spin-up workstations to support temporary help as project requirements change. This new found flexibility and agility can dramatically increase productivity and time-to-market, which all adds up to a competitive edge.