Ramaker & Associates, Inc.
A Leading Architecture and Engineering Firm Accelerates CAD, Increases Efficiency, and Eliminates the Infrastructure Costs of a Dispersed Workforce with Workspot Cloud Workstations
Ramaker & Associates, Inc. (Ramaker) is a multi-discipline architecture and engineering firm distinguished by both a personal touch and a nationwide presence. The Madison, Wisconsin-headquartered firm provides its services in locations across the US and certain provinces of Canada. Ramaker began by designing waterparks, and now also works with telecommunications companies developing cell towers and related infrastructure. The employeeowned AEC firm has provided exceptional professional engineering services to its clients for over two decades.
Ramaker currently maintains offices in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New Jersey, and employs many CAD drafters across the country who work from home. As the firm grows they see the need for a method of collaboration which avoids the traditional IT infrastructure costs involved in establishing new branch offices. Also, Ramaker wishes to alleviate cumbersome design processes and time-consuming file transfers for power users which have impeded productivity.
Previously, the only connectivity that remote employees had was through VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), which entailed unwieldy access layers and slowed the process of daily work and project collaboration. Curtis Paul—Ramaker’s Technology Service Leader—and his team recognized that the time was right for enabling employees to take advantage of cloud computing, which would in turn accelerate project delivery, while at the same time making everyone’s lives easier. Given the complexity, performance issues & considerable up-front expense of traditional virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), point-to-point lines and dedicated connections between offices that would be required, the Ramaker team knew that traditional VDI was not a viable solution for their highly dispersed workforce.
During an AEC industry conference, a colleague from another firm mentioned Workspot, and the team decided to reach out to explore the possibilities.
When the Ramaker team saw Workspot GPU cloud workstations in action, Paul remembers thinking, “Right away it seemed to me that a VDI solution in the cloud, that natively uses our own group policy objects, and that really respects the rules that we as a company have put in place, makes a lot of sense.”
The firm implemented Workspot Workstation Cloud and Workspot Desktop Cloud, both operating in Microsoft Azure. Ramaker purchased GPU cloud workstations as well as high-performance cloud desktops to enable CAD and 3D modeling architectural work, allowing the firm to deliver in some cases even more compute power than was necessary. CAD drafters use Revit and SketchUp on GPU cloud workstations for 3D modeling, and Project Managers use AutoCAD on cloud desktops.
“Now that we’re on Workspot, designers are on their cloud workstations in Azure, connecting to Panzura for project data, and everyone is doing their work in real time.” Direct feedback from employees working outside the office indicates that the difference between using the VPN and Workspot is night and day, in that Workspot cuts down so much of the load times and file transfer burden these employees were accustomed to.
Faster file-open times along with quick access to project data, photos and drawings enables real-time, effective, collaboration. Remote employees are able to accomplish tasks for the company that they otherwise wouldn’t because Workspot enables them to realize the full potential that cloud desktops and CAD software can offer, all while they work out of their homes and remote offices.
“Before, rendering a typical 3D model using an MSI gaming computer equipped with a GTX1060 hardware GPU took about nine hours. After we got the Workspot cloud workstation configured, it took only six hours; a savings of 33%. And if we’d been using less powerful computer hardware for that render, the time savings would be even greater with Workspot,” Paul says.
Because Ramaker is able to cut loading times and general effort spent on projects as a result of implementing Workspot, the difference can be viewed as additional billable hours for other projects. In effect, Workspot pays for itself through increased productivity. “As for me,” Paul notes, with regard to his role as Network Administrator, “even with VPNs and the like, Workspot just makes it that much easier to, say, pull out my cellphone and get something done quickly.”
“Now that we’re on Workspot, designers are on their Cloud Workstations in Azure, connecting to Panzura for project data, and everyone is doing their work in real time.”
As a result of Workspot’s turnkey service, Ramaker is now considering opening additional offices and hiring more remote employees. “I frequently remind service group leaders that we don’t have to be so geographically concerned with where an individual is working today,” says Paul. The firm no longer has to open a new office to support a project, or pay for expensive phone systems and point-to-point lines. Having proved the outstanding performance and predictable cost of Workspot’s cloud desktop and workstation service, the firm is enjoying new levels of flexibility and agility that allows them to hire the best talent and pursue new opportunities anywhere.
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