Is VDI the future of BIM?

For some time now, we’ve been promised to be wowed by VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) and it’s merits as a way to bring the workstation experience to either thin clients or remote desktop sessions. The problem is has always been that the workflow in most Architectural firms has required the specs common to 3D workflows – something that has never been done well over the copper using RDP, VNC or anything else for that matter. HP has put forth their ‘HP Remote Graphics Software” as a poor attempt at 3D and streaming media optimized protocols. It’s a failure (I’ve tried it – don’t waste your time.)

PCoverIP seemed like a great option – but it becomes unusable in high-latency environments and has limited adoption.

Then then something happened over at Citrix. The same technology that they have been pushing in their GoToMyPC product is finally available in a new product that they’re bundling into XenDesktop – HDX.

It’s 1.0, but it has potential. The idea of being able to take advantage of your WAN or LAN to enable remote access via this magical and functional protocol gives me goosebumps. Combine that with the flex power of XenDesktop, and you’ve got a potential recipe for the best Revit and 3DStudio Max innovation to happen in 10 years.

Imagine being able to use Revit or 3DStudio like a utility – one you have in your own datacenter (or cloud if that’s what floats your boat). A team of 4 employees needs to work on Revit with a team in Kansas City, but they’re in Cleveland. Simply provision some desktops on your Kansas XenDesktop server and have them remote into their new workstations! Problem solved. The performance (that is latency between what they do with their keyboard and mouse and when it’s evident on screen) is the same as if they were sitting on a LAN box in KC!

All of a sudden, we can (presumably affordable) have staff anywhere in the world working as if they’re in the office.

This is a huge game changer, potentially.

Then again, HDX may be a complete failure for this purpose. I’ll be setting this up in my labs and doing some testing with our WAN over the next few months and hope to report back on how this does (or does not) work for this purpose.








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