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    Being in the same place twice? (Server Typologies)

    I know threads about office network infrastructures seldom get a lot of replies, but I'm gonna go ahead and post anyway to see if any of you lot come up with something different to the our "IT guy" and the replies I've had on other (non-Revit) forums I visit.

    (first off, probably best to say, minimal budget - so no Riverbed/Citrix/etc - and we're not running Revit Server either)


    We are still making some efforts to improve our office network.

    At the moment we have the majority of our network (Domain, exchange, tape backup, library, storage etc) hosted on hardware in our London office, and a secondary server (local-exchange (?) and storage) in our Newcastle office (some 300miles away)

    The London office benefits from local-speed access to the majority of the network, where Newcastle suffer quite a lag. This is complicated further by the fact the "storage" volumes (essentially our live project folders) are not mirrors, that act quite independantly. So over time the London-hosted library has found itself slowly being copied to (unmanaged) Newcastle locations, whilst being added to there also (and not fed back to London).

    So all in all a QA nightmare.

    I have long been championing a simplification (from the frontend) of our public folders so that we all (London & Newcastle) see the "same thing". Our staff have backed this call. But our "IT guys" are being soft on overhauling everything, and I fear the two new SAN arrays just ordered are just going to get a straight migration of the current "system" dumped onto them - with no thought to how they mirror/duplicate.

    I've challenged this, and it's been tested that it's not feasible. That data replication can't happen on the fly. That nightly mirrors are problematic. That dual-accessed-files cause lost work. And that clouds are dangerous. I don't buy it. We're two offices, there must be some (practical) way to ensure both locations "see" and work with the "same thing"?


    So far, I've been reccomended :
    DFSR -resisted as "laggy" by our internal guy (without validation)
    MirrorFolder - trial downloaded, but as yet untested
    SureSync- trial downloaded, but again, as yet untested

    But I'm curious how you (larger) practices handle this kind of thing (without suggesting NASA like IT budgets)

    #2
    We are developing our "Cloud" CAD enviroment. RemoteApp shows some potintial for Revit and all Apps, plus it comes with SBS. I am not sure how big your internet pipes are. We have 3 remote offices with 1 central office hosting everything. Each remote office has 10/10 Mbps connection to the central office and the central office has 100/100 Mbps divided amongst all the offices. The biggest problem we have is one of our office has unreliable internet.

    Send me a PM if you want to talk more.
    -Alex Cunningham

    Comment


      #3
      To me the fundamental disconnect here is that IT does not seem to understand that THEIR paycheck is funded by Revit, not the other way around. If the issue is getting management to understand this and push IT to properly support Revit, looking at how much income Revit generates directly might be helpful. If management can't be bothered to lead, then the office has bigger issues.

      But the second issue is that this is exactly the scenario that Revit Server was designed to address, and warts and all it does a better job than any kludge, be it the cheap mirror approach or the expensive RiverBed approach.
      The short term answer is to NOT recreate a Revit unfriendly network infrastructure at the moment when it is most easy to address the problem. Especially given that the current system is also unfriendly to any kind of consistency and efficiency, no matter what the tool being used. It would be one thing if the other office had been acquired and had their own habits and processes and where resistant. But when both the users and the tool that generate the vast majority of a firm's income argue for it, there really shouldn't need to be much discussion.
      And the long term answer is to at least start testing revit Server so when a project really does need people from both offices actively working on the same central file in real time, it will in fact be possible. The staffing flexibility alone should make management push for it sooner rather than later. But even with Revit Server in place, rationalized and standardized locations for content are still important, and by all means should come first.

      Best of luck,
      Gordon
      Pragmatic Praxis

      Comment


        #4
        Let me say first off that I'm self-employed. I don't do large projects, unless I'm hired by a third party which generally has the whole IT set up and I just go with the flow...
        But I do need to be synced between my pc and laptop. I used to do this using some manual mirror app (Synctoy) which I ran a few times a week. But this kept giving me troubles:
        - Extensive searching for the right file,
        - Working on my laptop on a file, packing it up to go somewhere else, only to find I was working from a network drive and have Revit crash on me.
        - Going to a client only to see I forgot to sync...
        - Having my laptop crash on my 2 days after my last sync.
        And so on.

        I did some extensive research on my options:
        - Use Dropbox for my files. Problems: limited storage use (also in payed versions, I need a LOT of GB's). And limited to files only, when I really wanted to integrate email, calenders and stuff too.
        - Use a mirror/sync software. Mostly no live feed. Also same problem with file limitations.
        - Use Google Apps (professional) combined with syncapp (in my case Syncdocs).

        Jackpot for me:
        - I can live sync email, agenda, contacts to an infinite amount of devices. I can add all my existing email adresses (just haven't figured out how to use "child"emailaccounts on my mobile just yet).
        - Live sync of my documents, also to all devices AND accessible through the internet.
        - Syncdocs makes sure I can work offline to. Reconnect and it's auto-synced.

        YMMV, but it's great for small firms with limited traffic.
        Keep in mind though: this is NOT a Revit worksharing method. It's great for keeping your libraries and project documents synced but not meant for collaboration. But on the other hand: the OP isn't about collaboration on a project.
        Martijn de Riet
        Professional Revit Consultant | Revit API Developer
        MdR Advies
        Planta1 Revit Online Consulting

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Alex Cunningham View Post
          We have 3 remote offices with 1 central office hosting everything. Each remote office has 10/10 Mbps connection to the central office and the central office has 100/100 Mbps divided amongst all the offices.
          So do your remote offices work off the central office, for all types of files, live? Apologies if I weren't clear, this is for everything.
          Originally posted by Alex Cunningham View Post
          Send me a PM if you want to talk more.
          I may well do, thanks, just gonna chew on a few things first, and get some firmer info on what we have and haven't got to make any chat a little more worthwhile.

          Originally posted by Gordon Price View Post
          To me the fundamental disconnect here is that IT does not seem to understand that THEIR paycheck is funded by Revit, not the other way around.
          Sadly, that's not far off.

          Originally posted by Gordon Price View Post
          The short term answer is to NOT recreate a Revit unfriendly network infrastructure at the moment when it is most easy to address the problem. Especially given that the current system is also unfriendly to any kind of consistency and efficiency, no matter what the tool being used.
          Well we had a big pow wow today, and fielded our (early) plans to the entire office after, and there was a (slight) murmor of anxious anticipation from the greater majority... but there's a big fear of "change" - even when things aren't that great - it's the unknown more than anything, so there's talk of writing ROI's - but I'm all about getting it done, not talking about it. Frustratingly, I can only beg for it, and suggest "how it should be" rather than say "we need to do it this way, with that" given my limited grasp on deeper-level/server IT soft/hardware.

          Originally posted by Gordon Price View Post
          at least start testing revit Server so when a project really does need people from both offices actively working on the same central file in real time, it will in fact be possible.
          Well we're there now - one of our biggest jobs to date has us (presently) splitting the different buildings of the project across the two offices, but already we're seeing bottlenecks and haven't the spare machines enough to all be using RDC when we start kicking off the worksets.

          Originally posted by mdradvies View Post
          But on the other hand: the OP isn't about collaboration on a project.
          It is a concern though, but yes, the primary concern is about managing ALL server content across unique, (but desired to be identical) locations.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by snowyweston View Post
            So do your remote offices work off the central office, for all types of files, live?
            Yes. :beer:
            -Alex Cunningham

            Comment


              #7
              Hi Snowy,

              I don't have any direct experience with what you want to do (and I work at a much smaller firm), but with that being said...

              Since your question appears to be more of a network/IT nature than anything directly related to Revit, I think you were correct in searching for help in more network/IT-oriented forums.

              Since you're not looking to use Revit worksharing across remote locations, this is "simple" synchronization.

              DFSR is your starting point. DFSR alone would probably be the best way to go, except it doesn't have built-in file locking... which means that User 1 opens and saves a document on Server A, and at approximately the same time, User 2 opens and saves the same document on Server B, and now you have two separate versions, one of which is going to get over-written during the next sync. DFSR just by itself is meant more to replicate files that remain largely static, and not so much as a document collaboration tool across a WAN.

              If that sounds like a potential problem, that's where third-party solutions come into play like SureSync, and Peer (PeerSync, PeerLock, etc.) - I see Peer get mentioned quite a bit, BTW. You'll have to do further investigation, but I believe some solutions work in conjunction with DFSR, and some might replace it entirely with their own solution. I wouldn't hesitate to call them directly, explain your situation, and listen to their sales pitch.

              SharePoint might fit some of your needs. Also, Dropbox can be great in limited situations... for instance we keep our Revit Family library in a Dropbox, and that way it's easily accessible from anywhere, and everyone has access to the latest.

              As others have said, if you want to enable Revit worksharing, your firm is going to have to bite the bullet and look at Revit Server, Riverbed, etc.

              I don't want to harp too much on your "IT" guys, since I'm just hearing what they're saying second or third-hand, but pretty much everything you've mentioned about them in your recent posts makes me question what it is they're doing. In a separate thread, you alluded to them wiping W7 x64 off your new workstation in order to install Win XP x64, which under most circumstances would be considered, uhhh, odd. Here, they're dismissing DFSR as having too much "lag", as though that's somehow a far bigger issue than your current network topology being an utter disaster. Go figure.

              Good luck with it all!

              :beer:

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