Welcome to AECWeekly! Last week we focused on the trend of document management in the AEC industry, focusing on the company, Synergis, and their Adept product line for document management. This week the discussion continues with a look at Bentley Systems’ ProjectWise and newly released ProjectWise StartPoint.
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Managing Your AEC Content Part II
by Susan Smith
Last week we focused on the trend of document management in the AEC industry, focusing on the company, Synergis, and their Adept product line for document management. This week the discussion continues with a look at Bentley Systems’ ProjectWise and newly released ProjectWise StartPoint.
Document management for AEC is moving forward as more organizations understand they need to manage their information better. Joe Croser, marketing director at Bentley Systems, said that organizations are now allocating funds to focus on document management. Bentley’s new ProjectWise StartPoint, which makes use of Microsoft SharePoint technology, is an entry level collaboration tool that offers smaller teams a way to manage, find and share information effectively by allowing you to connect CAD applications to the SharePoint environment. SharePoint is a pretty simple document management tool which requires very little administration and doesn’t require specific IT skills.
ProjectWise is considered a big gun solution for large, “distributed” enterprises. Those customers all have IT departments and database administrators, thus ProjectWise serves them well. With the ProjectWise Integration Server, organizations can have individual caching servers in each of their different office locations. “So you have local area network speed access to files because they’re cached locally but filed centrally,” said Croser.
But ProjectWise StartPoint will appeal to a larger audience of smaller firms who do not have that type of IT support but who want some of the same functionality as ProjectWise. StartPoint is a natural extension of existing Microsoft SharePoint technology that is already used by 18 million users around the world. “SharePoint provides a very low entry level, so if you buy a Windows Server 2003, you can install Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) and that enables you to have a SharePoint site set up for no additional cost, as you get SharePoint with Windows Server 2003,” Croser explained.
“ProjectWise StartPoint provides this audience with a much simpler collaboration environment to manage their information, or it provides smaller organizations with smaller budgets a way to benefit from some of the same key issues without having all the distributed enterprise connectivity and back office automation that is also enabled with the ProjectWise Integration System.
Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) is different from the SharePoint Portal Server in that the SharePoint Portal Server can have many sites and can coordinate those many sites, whereas the Window SharePoint Services enables you to set up a single site and run it. “It’s a great testing or evaluation environment at no charge,” said Croser. “Our ProjectWise StartPoint technology has been designed to extend that SharePoint technology to connect the most popular CAD applications to the SharePoint environment for managing, finding and sharing their CAD information.”
Bentley now has their MicroStation V8 XM edition, Powerdraft and Redline and View, and soon to be released ProjectWise Navigator, which all have technology built right into them to connect to the SharePoint environment. “All you need is a ProjectWise user license to license that connection,” Croser explained. “We’ve also designed a plug-in for AutoCAD applications which supports AutoCAD 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006, and that plug-in is freely downloadable from the website with a 30-day trial period. Organizations can install that plug-in with their application, then use that to connect to their SharePoint server.”
SharePoint is not aware of CAD reference files or CAD compound documents. The ProjectWise StartPoint technology that sits with the CAD application teaches SharePoint to be reference file aware. “When you go to SharePoint and open up DGN or DWG files that you have there, if it has reference files, it will automatically serve you up those reference files as well, as part of whole open process. Then users of those CAD tools can benefit from the check in and check out version creation and control capabilities that you have built into SharePoint,” said Croser.
In addition, Bentley offers SharePoint Web Parts, which resemble “box outs” that you would see on any normal web page. In a SharePoint environment you can place “Web Parts,” such as a threaded discussion Web Part, where people can discuss a certain thing relating to a certain design. Or you might have a calendar Web Part where you keep a team diary or calendar. You have document store Web Parts, and links Web Parts where you can add in hyperlinks to other things.
To connect StartPoint to the ProjectWise Integration Server environment, Bentley has created some Web Parts to ProjectWise that allow you to use SharePoint as your portal application. “Perhaps for different business needs across your enterprise that are not specifically engineering related, you can benefit from having Web Parts dropped into a SharePoint page. The Web Parts then provide you controlled access into your ProjectWise Integration Server environment as well, which then gives you greater functionality that we have just built into ProjectWise StartPoint.”
One question that came to mind was the cost of all this, since StartPoint is designed for organizations on smaller budgets. Users may be heartened to know that the Bentley Select program is scalable, and the cost is always a percentage of purchase price. “Whenever people purchase licenses from us, they can also subscribe to licenses so they can rent them if they prefer,” Croser explained. “ProjectWise StartPoint is licensed with the ProjectWise named user license.’ The named user is like a passport. Everyone has their own passport, which costs just $350. There’s no server side technology that needs to be serviced or licensed. A Select subscription for that 20% is $72 per seat or $6 month.”
Croser pointed out that customers benefit from all the Select programs: 24/7 support, upgrades, updates, free access and registration fees waived to the BE Conference. “The Select program is a great value for those entering by buying StartPoint because their entry point with all benefits are cheap and the support is there.” For a smaller company that may not have a CAD manager or IT team, they could consider the Select program in the context of outsourced CAD management.”
Privacy Networks, the e-mail integrity company, announced that CH2M HILL's Managed Services business unit will offer its PrivacyVault e-mail archiving solution as part of its array of IT services and offerings it provides to more than 1,400 worldwide customers. The agreement marks the continued rapid adoption of Privacy Networks' e-mail management solution by leading managed services providers (MSPs) and mid-sized businesses as part of the growing need to manage and retrieve Electronically Stored Information (ESI).
Kevin Kirk, a 2002 graduate of Northern High School in Durham, N.C., has been involved in his family's construction business for years. Now a senior in Western Carolina University's construction management program, Kirk is learning the professional skills that are critically important to meet a global shortage of managers in the construction industry. He says he's glad WCU is offering full scholarships for incoming construction management majors.
In response to the multiple CAD formats used by different parties in today's collaborative product development environment, 70% of manufacturers are designing products in one CAD format and delivering the results in many formats, according to a new report from Aberdeen, a Harte-Hanks company. Their goal is to insulate themselves from the added time, cost, and specialized staffing required to convert, translate, re-create, and duplicate design data into many formats. Findings from Aberdeen's The Multi-CAD Design Chain Benchmark Report: “Insulating Engineering from the Multi-CAD Environment” shows that this is an important component of a winning multi-CAD management strategy.