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This fast-growing AEC firm needed to open five branch offices quickly, without implementing a full stack of servers and other IT infrastructure in each location. Included in their requirements was making sure that the more than 300 CAD designers using AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Revit and Bentley, among other applications, have outstanding performance, as if they were using a local workstation.

Having deep experience with legacy VDI solutions, the IT team knew they had to look elsewhere if they were going to meet power-user requirements for reliability, remote working, and great performance. Today, Workspot cloud workstations are delivered from Microsoft Azure to CAD engineers on low-cost devices, giving them the exceptional performance -as if apps were running on a local workstation —the firm was hoping for.

The firm also views the ability to work with joint venture partners and subcontractors in new ways as “nothing short of revolutionary” for the AEC industry. The firm is able to create Workspot instances for subcontractors and partners so that they can all work on the same project and keep the data where it’s accessible by everyone, with each party using their own CAD and BIM application licenses. Quinn expects

Ultimately, CTO Eric Quinn said, “Workspot is the only way to deliver the kind of user experience that keeps our CAD engineers and my IT team happy and productive.”

 


 

Company Overview

For more than 50 years, C&S Companies has been the trusted choice of clients across the country, partnering with them to achieve critical infrastructure goals and serve their communities. With a staff of almost 500 across more than 30 locations, C&S designs and builds large infrastructure projects globally for local, state and federal government, as well as specializing in the aviation, entertainment & hospitality, higher education, industrial and wireless communications sectors.

Challenge

The immediate need was to open five branch offices quickly and also support remote work in co-workspaces.

This fast-growing AEC firm needed to open five branch offices quickly, without implementing a full stack of servers and other IT infrastructure in each location. Included in their requirements was making sure that the more than 300 CAD designers using AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Revit and Bentley, among other applications, have outstanding performance, as if they were using a local workstation.

In addition to the immediate need to open branch offices in locations across the U.S., the firm’s near-term growth strategy includes making ongoing use of flexible co-workspaces, such as WeWork and Regis, allowing them to engage the best available talent for projects regardless of that person’s location. The firm needed a way to give these users the same experience they would have if they were sitting in one of the existing C&S offices. Eric Quinn, chief technology officer at C&S Companies says, “Approximately 40% of our workforce is outside our Syracuse headquarters area, so providing a great experience for remote users, as well as ensuring that all project data is secure, is essential to our business.”

For about 10 years, the firm had been using virtual desktops, Trying two different legacy VDI solutions during that time. “That was okay,” says Quinn, “but we had to do a lot of administrative work to get people to the point where the experience working with CAD was acceptable. We spent hundreds and hundreds of hours trying to get our environment to the point where people could work in CAD.”

Having experienced the performance limitations and infrastructure complexity of traditional VDI, the IT team was both skeptical about trying another virtual desktop solution and ready for a change because of the countless hours spent maintaining and troubleshooting their VDI infrastructure. When the administrative work required to maintain VDI outweighed the benefits to the to the firm, the C&S team knew they had to find a better way, and that’s when they decided to evaluate Workspot.

Solution

Performance, productivity, business continuity all improved

C&S chose to implement Workspot Workstation Cloud next to a virtual Panzura instance in Microsoft Azure. GPU cloud workstations are delivered from Azure to CAD engineers on low-cost devices, giving them the exceptional performance – as if apps were running on a local workstation —the firm was hoping for.

Not only does the Workspot solution improve performance, and therefore, productivity for power users, it also enables C&S to work with joint venture partners and subcontractors in new ways that are “nothing short of revolutionary” for the AEC industry. In the future, the firm will create Workspot instances for subcontractors and partners so that they can all work on the same project and keep the data where it’s accessible by everyone, with each party using their own CAD and BIM application licenses. Quinn expects collaboration within joint venture projects to improve because all partners on the project use a single technology platform. With better collaboration comes higher quality, faster deliverable completion and therefore, greater ROI for the partnership. For joint venture partners who only use physical desktops, C&S can provide the Workspot cloud workstation as part of the project terms.

In addition to the firm’s need to support anywhere-productivity, C&S is also focused on their business continuity planning. By moving their data into Panzura, the firm knew that no matter what happened, their data would be safe. They could even start a new office in another location if needed. The challenge that remained was where would they get all the computers their employees needed at a moment’s notice? And how could they connect those computers to their infrastructure in a matter of 24 to 48 hours? “With Workspot, we literally have the opportunity for people to go home or to another safe location and log in from a personal computer to easily and securely access work data,” says Quinn.

Business Results

Implementing Workspot has enabled C&S to reduce hard costs, such as purchasing and refreshing physical workstations. In addition to hard cost reduction are soft benefits that contribute significant value, such as eliminating the administrative burden of VDI infrastructure management. “Literally every day someone on my team comes to me and says ‘I have an idea for someone else who can use Workspot!’ says Quinn. The benefits for IT include dramatically simplified management and therefore, the ability to reallocate IT resources to more strategic projects. Power users are enjoying great performance with the additional benefit of flexibility that allows them to be productive remotely, whether at home, a client site or from a hotel. Overall, the business is achieving new levels of agility that enable C&S to pursue new revenue opportunities in any geography.

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