Speed CAD File Downloads | Improve CAD Application Performance | Riverbed

Why design professionals at architectural, engineering, construction and related firms struggle with running CAD applications remotely—and how to help them, fast.

Of the organizations I’ve worked with over the past few months, amongst those experiencing special difficulties with their people having to work at home come from the architectural, engineering, construction (AEC) and related sectors. With teams typically collaborating and sharing day-long with large Computer-Aided Design (CAD) files, network performance is business-critical.

The WFH factor

When working in the office, the performance of local network connections is closely monitored for reliability and performance. But, once large numbers of staff were forced to work out of their homes early this year, productivity reduced due to unpredictable ‘last mile’ connections. Many professionals are also sharing single internet links with housemates, working partners and homeschooling children. These factors can significantly increase the time it takes to download and upload large CAD files.

This, in turn, has a clear connection to their firms’ profitability and reputation. Slower project delivery time means reduced margins—because labor costs are increased by the reduced productivity of highly paid employees or contractors. Deadlines are missed, clients are unimpressed, and repeat business becomes less certain.

Besides the business risks, having skilled professionals ‘watching paint dry’ as they wait for their work to cross to and from their data center or those of business partners—which is frustrating and demotivating.

So what’s the solution?

The performance of ‘heavy’ CAD data for users working from home is dependent on three factors: network congestion, network latency and network unpredictability. Removing these inhibitors is the way to give users a great experience—wherever they are working.

Heavy design data can really clog networks and, depending on the distance between the CAD application server and the user, latency can significantly impact application behavior. Add the unpredictability when every user is working over unique last-mile conditions, and all of these elements can really slow things down.

Riverbed Client Accelerator software on user laptops combined, with Riverbed SteelHead on the application server side, significantly speeds up processes that they are used to performing in the office in seconds, or minutes, rather than hours. Essentially, some of the ‘interesting behavior’ that negatively impacts application performance over networks is eliminated, and users experience CAD as if the application is local.

When remote users are running Client Accelerator:

  1. Network congestion is reduced by eliminating up to 90% of the data which goes on round trips, backward and forward between the user’s device and the CAD application in your data center (or beyond to the cloud if you’re using SaaS).
  2. Network latency is mitigated to improve application performance by up to 33 times.
  3. Network unpredictability—not the least of challenges for WFH professionals—is thus reduced over last-mile connections.

Fortunately, Client Accelerator is a relatively simple and fast solution to trial then roll out to users for rapid results.

CAD file acceleration in action

One firm that has dramatically improved network performance for its WFH staff is US-based Landform Professional Services. The multi-disciplinary consulting firm delivers integrated site design services including civil engineering, landscape architecture, planning, urban design, and land surveying.

Wanting to enable staff to open large CAD files from home and remote sites as quickly as they do in its office, Landform deployed Riverbed Client Accelerator and experienced immediate improvements. After deploying a proof of concept in just 30 minutes, it experienced 92% faster opening of large CAD files from home (from 20 minutes down to 90 seconds). This resulted in daily savings of up to 2-3 hours per employee—achieving ROI in less than a month.

Another business benefiting from optimized performance for remote workers is British firm, Hilson Moran. With more than 250 people in five offices across the UK and the Middle East, this engineering consultancy plans, designs, manages and operates built assets for a range of clients.

Using Riverbed Client Accelerator (formerly called SteelHead Mobile) it has improved network efficiency by as much as 80%, encouraging greater team collaboration through productive remote working. According to Hilson Moran CFO Roger Waters-Duke, “staff can work out of the office, on-site, with a client. We can move data faster and with more resilience… even in locations with thin broadband.”

If you’d like to learn more and take a 60-day trial of Riverbed Client Accelerator, visit our website.

This post was first first published on Riverbed Blog’s website by Alison Conigliaro-Hubbard. You can view it by clickinghere