Saturday, February 5, 2011

Revit Server

So, as a company with both Construction and Architecture, we are struggling with the infrastructure needed to support two very different network diagrams. Most Architecture firms have a few main offices, and this is the environment Revit Server was designed to help out with. It is working great for us too, so no complaints on that front! Our Architecture network diagram looks much like any other firm with five offices:
So, we set up our Central Server in Dallas, and local servers in the other offices. That's that! But, our construction work makes this a LOT more complicated:
Add in a few more offices (teal-ish) and then all the jobsites (red-ish). Most of the connections between those jobs and their home office is Cable or DSL quality. When was the last time you tried saving to central over cable or DSL? I have Fios at home and that still takes 15-30 minutes depending on file size. So, you're thinking: Why not have a local server at every jobsite? Well, tons of reasons. Some jobsites have no permanent home for our people. About 1/3 of our work is small projects with one guy running two or three projects simultaneously. What job do you put the server on? Also, a lot of smaller jobs don't have the budget for a dedicated server at all. On over 60% of our work people are using their computers with no jobsite server. Two or three people don't need their own server when they can connect back to the office over VPN.  It "requires" Server2008, and no one wants that running on their own machine. It is only suitable for a server environment, not a mobile workstation or laptop. If only we could run RevitServer on Windows7...

Fortunately, there's a hack for that. Proof of concept screen shots below:
If you look REAL closely, you can see Revit is connected to the same "server name" as the workstation the screenshot is being taken from. The application pools are running correctly, and the Revit Server admin page is also working correctly. I'm testing the fool out of this as it is unsupported (and not recommended!). But, considering anyone on a jobsite is already loosing and hour plus every day saving to central, if I can cut that in half and they crash once a week they're still coming out ahead. So, here's to crossed fingers! I'll let you know how all the tests come out...

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