Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
An Engineering Approach to Big AEC Data
April 24th, 2015 by Susan Smith
Environmental Systems Design is a consulting engineering firm that addresses the AEC industry. According to vice president ESD Global, the company does all the engineering in the building that you can’t see “but you really notice unless it doesn’t work, such as, heating, cooling, electrical, lighting, low voltage work, computer networking and data centers.”
Anderson said they design a lot of hospitals, commercial office buildings, no residential unless they are highrises, and do everything but structural and civil.
ESD Global can assemble project teams from a professional pool of 275+ people that allows the firm to explore, collaborate, and share lessons learned from their diverse staff and utilize best practices when developing options and solutions to design challenges. Approximately 200 of their staff are engineers, the rest support staff. Their main office is in Chicago, with satellites in Dallas, a startup office in San Francisco, and an office in Abu Dhabi. They work with a number of large architectural firms.
The environment and sustainability are primary to ESD Global’s work. Most recently they have completed the design of the world’s tallest building, the Kingdom Tower in Abu Dhabi. They work with major CAD software companies such as Autodesk.
Another solution that “you don’t notice unless it doesn’t work” is a cloud based storage system. ESD Global uses Nasuni cloud based storage system with local appliances for their primary office storage. This solution takes snapshots of their data once an hour and pushes it into the cloud.
“We picked them because we have 18 terabytes of project information and our problem was that our existing backup systems couldn’t handle that much data and have a decent frequency of backup,” said Anderson. “So we were looking for solutions to protect our data. We figured that with a traditional back up system, we weren’t going to keep up with the data growth we had. We would have to buy a data back up system every year – it would be obsolete in a year because it wouldn’t be able to handle the load. Also, the older the stuff gets, the harder it is to pull it up and use. We were looking at cloud backup systems so we could protect all our data all the time and have free scalability so we don’t have to worry about how much data we have. Our data can grow, and the cloud based solutions should be able to scale with growth easily.”
“After looking at several cloud based solutions, Nasuni provided us with what we needed – scalability and a good price point,” said Anderson. “we only had to pay priced upon base storage. They don’t price it according to how many snapshots you take or how far back you go. It allowed us to go back in history from the initial time we put the file up there, where other solutions would only allow you to go back 90-100 days. They have local servers that we have in the office, then they cache the data into these local servers so that users are just accessing the data on a LAN and not going to the cloud to access data. It is backed up in the cloud but being accessed by the local file servers. We get a good performance because we’re working with a LAN – our files are big and complex because of computer graphics so we can’t be directly connected to the cloud to get data because that would be too slow.”
Anderson said they were looking for scalability, network performance, and being able to access historical data without any limit on how many days back you can go. Nasuni provided all those things.
The engineers are just pointed to the local file servers. Once an hour in the background the file servers push any new data into the cloud. If the engineers accidentally delete something they can go back to the last hour and pull it down.
ESD Global is charged per terabyte and annually, but there are no extra charge. “We have a technical person assigned to our account, and we have a weekly discussion with him on what we’re trying to do,” said Anderson. “If we have one of these filers in the cloud give permission to access data, they can have access to exact same data we have here internationally. All our offices can all share data. In the newest version they have global file locking so if someone opens the file in one location it locks the file to other locations so they only get read only version.
Nasuni Provides Storage as Service AECCafe Voice
Tags: AEC, architects, architecture, Autodesk, Autodesk Revit, BIM, building design, building information modeling, CAD, Cloud, collaboration, construction, design, engineering, engineers, ESD Global, Kingdom Tower, mobile, reality capture
Categories: 2D, 3D, AEC, AECCafe, architecture, AutoCAD, Autodesk, BIM, building information modeling, Cloud, collaboration, construction, data archiving, engineering, ESD Global, field solutions, file sharing, global locking file systems, IES, IFC, infrastructure, integrated project delivery, LEED Gold, managed services, mobile, point clouds, project management, reality capture, render farms, rendering, site planning, sustainable design