Architects embrace collaboration with Citrix-enabled Desktops-as-a-Service

Based in Sydney, Australia, dwp|suters creates exceptional spaces for life, work and community. The company’s architects and interior designers work collaboratively across 15 locations throughout Australia, Asia and the Middle East and have won numerous international awards for major projects that demonstrate a profound commitment to innovation, sustainability and community-based design.

The Challenge: Sharing and synchronizing massive project files across multiple offices

dwp|suters’ architects and designers do much of their client-facing work in Autodesk Revit, the acknowledged leader in3D modeling software for the architectural industry. But working with Revit wasn’t always easy. Files were routinely massive and unwieldy, making it difficult to transmit project data from one team to the next. As a result, employees often spent hours every day synchronizing the latest Revit data to ensure that every team in every office had access to the same information.

“It got to the point where a simple collaboration between teams in Melbourne and Brisbane would be a no-go, all because the Revit data was too difficult to share,” says Kent Chalmers, national IT manager at dwp|suters. “To make matters worse, we occasionally lost entire days’ worth of work due to synchronization errors. When you have multiple architects and designers working on a project at hundreds of dollars per hour, that’s a major loss.”

The Solution: Delivering access to Autodesk Revit with Citrix-based Desktops-as-a-Service

To find the right solution, dwp|suters spoke to the experts at Regional IT, a Citrix Service Provider based in Newcastle, Australia. In their discussions, dwp|suters briefly considered a cloud storage solution such as Dropbox, but the complexities of the Revit file management system made that untenable. “We also looked at virtualization technology from VMware, but that simply couldn’t handle the complexity of our 3D imagery in Revit,” says Chalmers.

Citrix performed far better. According to dwp|suters, Citrix HDX technology was a major selling point, with its unique capability to enable workers to view graphics-intensive Revit files on their virtual desktops in high definition. “I’ve been working with Citrix technology in one form or another for about 15 years now,” Chalmers says. “I’m very comfortable with it. So when we started talking about a Citrix-based Desktops-as-a-Service solution, I didn’t need much convincing. It’s really very simple: Why keep running Revit in concurrent sessions across multiple offices when you can centralize the application in a single terminal, then let Regional IT handle the administration?”

The firm’s Desktops-as-a-Service solution includes a combination of Citrix XenApp for on-demand application delivery and Citrix XenServer for easy hypervisor management. Employees have on-demand access to Revit files from the cloud, with all data secured and monitored by Regional IT. In addition, they’re able to collaborate on their Revit projects from any location, on any device—even on their home computers or personal tablets.

Key Benefits

Eliminating the need for a AUS$280,000 hardware upgrade

dwp|suters concluded that the Citrix solution made financial sense, but only realized the exact scale of the hardware savings after implementation. “Because we’re running virtual desktops, our architects can use a midrange workstation like the HP Z200 series,” he says. “Not too long ago I considered upgrading 20 of our workstations to a more advanced model, and that was entirely to alleviate some of our CAD workload issues. Doing that would’ve cost AUS$14,000 a head, a total of AUS$280,000. XenApp solves that problem, which means we can put those dollars to better use.”

Stopping accidental data loss

With the Citrix-based solution, dwp|suters no longer suffers from accidental data loss due to faulty synchronization. That represents a significant cost avoidance from an operational perspective—and points toward a major improvement in productivity. “Of course, it’s terrible to lose an entire day of work,” says Chalmers. “But that’s not even the worst of it. Some of our employees used to spend hours—hours!—on a near-daily basis dealing with our data synchronization issues. When you add those hours up over months and years, and then consider that we don’t need to do it anymore, you’re looking at a pretty major savings in labor costs.”

Reducing administrative burden for IT personnel

For dwp|suters, everything is simpler now that the Citrix-based solution is in place. “It really takes the stress out of my life,” he says. “I don’t have to worry about picking up my phone and hearing someone complain that they can’t synchronize their data, or that they’ve just lost a project. It’s been such a relief to remove that from my day-to-day work. It gives me an opportunity to do some real thinking about how we store and manage our data going forward, which is a much better use of my time and energy.”

Creating opportunities to pursue larger, more ambitious projects

Now that architects and designers can collaborate in Revit more easily, dwp|suters can activate the full power of its collective workforce. “Our employees are scattered across many sites,” says Chalmers. “But with our new technology tools, we don’t have to act like we’re just a 30-person studio in Melbourne anymore. We’re now a 300-person studio distributed all across Australia. That enables us to take on much bigger projects than we could in the past, and to think much more ambitiously about how far we can go in the future.”

Looking Ahead

Prior to deploying a hosted desktop solution, dwp|suters had a significant footprint on three continents. Now the company is poised to engage on a truly global scale. “We have a network of partners extending around the globe,” says Chalmers. “This Citrix solution gives us more options to engage with partners, bringing them closer, discovering new opportunities for mutual gain. There’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to see a fundamental change in how and where we do business.

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Employees used to spend hours—hours!—on a near-daily basis dealing with our data synchronization issues. When you add those hours up over months and years, and then consider that we don’t need to do it anymore, you’re looking at a pretty major savings in labor costs.
- Kent Chalmers

National IT Manager

dwp|suters

Industry

  • Professional/public services

Key Benefits

  • Eliminates the need for a AUS$280,000 hardware upgrade
  • Stops accidental data loss
  • Reduces administrative burden for IT personnel
  • Creates opportunities to pursue larger, more ambitious projects

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