Monday, December 01, 2014

Notes from across the pond – The Year in Infrastructure Day One

With AutoDesk University starting this week in Sin City I figured it was nigh time to finally put together some thoughts on last month’s 2014 Year in Infrastructure (YII) and Be Inspired awards held in what has to be considered the BIM capital of the world – London.  This was my third YII and second attending it as a member of the press.  The great thing about attending as a member of the press is that you get to attend “press day” at the beginning of the conference. During which Bentley executives review the previous year and outline plans for the next one.   Large software company presentations can be both an interesting, but confusing experience.  It is interesting hearing from, meeting and interacting with Bentley’s top management and leaders.  Confusing since no one ever discusses specifics.  Instead, they paint sweeping corporate visions and future directions.  The high level, sweeping vision thing can be vague and confusing. It does present an interesting exercise in reading between the lines and connecting the various dots. The press briefing dealt with two major themes. 

One - Bentley’s new focus on bringing the Construction side of the industry into the BIM world.   Bentley is partnering with Timble to integrate construction and design data via “Construction Modeling”. Which will use the Bentley imodel as the data exchange format.   Bentley is spreading out to the cloud its ProjectWise collaboration and file management software. This will allow for broad based collaboration between users.  Along with purchasing SiteOps for what Bentley is calling “Site Optioneering”.  At the time I tweeted.

Bentley partnering with Siemens for PLM & Trimble for construction (BIM) - best of breed Info Modeling. What does it say about IM? #YII2014 

What does this say about IM (information modeling)? It shows that Bentley is getting serious about integrating data from a variety of sources.  Particularly, in those areas that it currently does not have a large presence in.  The construction and the mechanical worlds

Is Bentley now branching into design as a service (daas) in conjunction saas with siteops acquisition? #YII2014

This tweet I think brings up and even more interesting and groundbreaking scenario.  Over the past few years Bentley has been positioning itself to become a software as a service (saas) company.  Being an early proponent of software subscriptions rather than physical licenses.  Selling integrated suites of products for as long as I can recall.  Bentley has always tried to be a one stop solution provider for their customer/clients.  Now with the addition of SiteOps to their design tool catalog, agreements with Trimble and Siemens.  Bentley is now positioned to become a Design Services Provider.

Two – leveraging the cloud and software as a service via the announcement of MicroStation Connect.  What exactly is MicroStation Connect?  That is the 64,000 dollar question.  Even though it discussed and featured in talk after talk, Bentley never defined it.  Is it a newfangled version of MicroStation?  This is what it seemed to be. As the day progressed I became convinced that it is more an environment than it is a new version of MicroStation. At least not in the traditional sense.  While MicroStation Connect will be a new 64 bit version of Bentley’s flagship MicroStation.  MicroStation connect will exist not only in the traditional standalone version. But also as cloud based saas version.  It will continue to be the graphics engine that Bentley’s other products will use. Its principal use will be as a data presentation and exchange engine.  MicroStation connect will use imodel technology for seamless, data exchange within the project.

Day one of the Year in Infrastructure 2014 was sweeping overview of what Bentley has been doing and where it is going.  When exactly will Bentley become a Software as a Service provider?  When will MicroStation Connect be available?  When will this new vision take effect? I wish I knew.  My best guess is that we will start to see the beginning of the Siemens and Trimble collaborations late next year.  As for MicroStation Connect? Don’t expect it to before the 2016 and I would say it will be 2017/18 before it is in general use.   

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bentley LEARN 2014

Just got back from the Bentley Learn 2014 Architecture and Plant conference held in Charlotte, NC.  I'm happy to report that it was an excellent conference.  The venue was great for the size of the event, the sessions (at least the ones I went to) were informative and interesting.   The food and refreshments at the meals and breaks were fantastic.  Never underestimate the importance of food, snacks and drinks at a conference.  They can make or break an event.

Not sure how many people attended the conference I would estimate approximately 120 or so.  Which was less than I expected but made for a cozy event.  It is interesting to go to events that are a bit outside of your general area of work.  I deal with the civil side (roads and bridges) of the Bentley universe.  This conference focused on the Architectural and Plant (A&P) design world.  The core products of the Bentley product line MicroStation, Projectwise, cross all disciplines.  But products like AECOSim, AutoPlant and Generative Components are unique to the A&P world.

The Civil world is behind the A&P world in using BIM and 3D design tools.  But is ahead of it in technologies such as point clouds, stereo imaging and DTMs.  One thing I found interesting was that Generative Components came up in half of the sessions I attended.  I heard more about it here than I had at two Smart Geometry conferences I've attended over the past few years.  It may be that Bentley has finally discovered what a powerful product they have and now after years are finally trying to get the word out.  We will see.

One other item of note was Bentley is finally trying to use social media. Unfortunately, the MicroStation world has not embraced social media like users of other products.  It is a start though and I hope they continue to make use of the technology.  Social media can enhance the conference experience for product users (even if you aren't there in person).  If you would like to check out the twitter feed of from the conference the hashtag was #bentley14.

One other thing I noticed at this conference was the age of the average attendee.  It was not the youngest group I've ever hung out with.  I'm 54 and maybe at the high side of the scale but not by much.  May explain why things like social media, 3d and collaboration tools have not taken off as fast as one would think.  Just and observation.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Less with Less

In 28+ years of government service every organization I have been a part of has always been tasked to “Do More with Less” .  Recently a Colleague with another DOT wrote:

We have gotten to the point where we decided to “do less with less”. There are certain processes we have eliminated. We scrutinize every process to decide “is this really needed to complete a task” or is it the case of “this is the way we’ve always done it.”  With the lack of state funding, we have told our public we simply can’t provide the same level of service they’ve become accustomed to.

I never really gave much thought to doing “less with less” it seems to go against everything that I have ever been taught.  The more I think about it the more it makes sense.  Always doing more with less is an experiment in diminishing returns.  One may be able to do it for a while but eventually you will be left  with realization - “Less is not More”. 

What does this have to do with MicroStation or GEOPAK?  The actual programs —Nothing.  The way you use them—Everything.

There is always more than one way to accomplish anything in a CADD program.  The way you do something is not necessarily better or worse than the way someone else does.  Though one way may be more efficient than another.

Do “less with less” with CADD, simply means taking a look at your processes, choosing the most efficient way of doing things.  Less steps, less button pushes, less work.  - “LESS with LESS.”