Why do architecture and design firms need great IT support?
- They work with huge files
- Need to access files remotely
- Every project is a highly collaborative effort
When designing a system, its important to know where the data flow bottlenecks are. Every item on the below map has the ability to be improved, but how do you determine where you’ll get the most ROI.
In order to increase architecture and design firms ROI, it is important for us to understand how they use technology. With their workflows in mind, we can deliver tailored network designs.
See below for a very high level network diagram. I barely understand it and our engineers say it barely scratches the surface. However it will work for today’s discussion.
Architecture IT Support: They need an IT team to manage all of this:
Internet and Firewall
The internet enters the office and immediately hits the firewall. This is the networks first defense against outside threats. The internet here also represents applications hosted outside of the office. An example of a “hosted” application would be QuickBooks Online (as opposed to QuickBooks local only).
The two arrows between the cloud and brick wall represent two different Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Typically, we set our clients up with two different providers. One will be the main internet provider and will be the more expensive plan. The second will be a base package and would only be used in cases where the first ISP has an outage.
Considering the cloud?
As small and medium sized businesses adopt cloud solutions, a secondary ISP becomes even more important.
To learn more: Click here
End Point Switches
After the firewall, data flows through a series of Network Switches. A network switch acts as the gatekeeper/traffic controller and escorts information to the right location.
Managed vs Unmanaged Switches
Additionally, the switch plays a critical role in troubleshooting connection issues. Smart switches have the capability to see which devices might be the ones acting up and causing problems. It is important to always consult the IT team when plugging something into the network. Troubleshooting is infinitely more challenging when you have “dumb switches” plugged in.
Non-industry specific technology tools
The switches will then take the information and deliver to the correct destinations. Let’s start with the user. If he/she stays in web applications or files stored on their workstation, data is never transferred outside this circle (except backups). This includes email if he/she is on Office 365, hosted Exchange, or G-suite.
When it comes time to start designing…
The user logins in to their BIM application, Revit or ArchiCAD. To begin working on a project, building information needs to be pulled from the storage area network (see below for SAN), through the BIM Server, ending on the workstation. The majority of data on the project is kept on the SAN, but there is some information kept on the BIM Server and the workstation.
BIM Server and Virtualization
The BIM server refers to the machine that is hosting either Revit or ArchiCAD. In the image in the right, there are three (3) virtual machines: (1) BIM Cloud Manager, (2) BIM 1, and (3) BIM 2. Historically, the most powerful and newest server would be dedicated to the BIM application. Virtualization confuses the concept of a BIM server because virtual machines are much easier to move between “boxes.” Through virtualization, all data can be stored on a centralized device. The BIM Server only acts to execute commands.
Why would you move a Virtual Machine?
- Maintenance: During maintenance on the physical server, can more an active VM to a different server to prevent downtime
- Disaster Recovery: If a server were to fail, it would take minutes to spin up a new virtual machine and move it over
- Increased Power: Application utilization can fluctuate in type and demand. It may be beneficial to move VMs to properly utilize processing and computational power.
In a virtualized environment, the main file storage site is not the server. Long-term storage is in the SAN.
SAN (Core) Switches
Servers and SAN traffic
These are similar to the switches above. However, they will typically by higher performance than the Network Switches (Above). Core switches communicate between the servers and SAN devices.
Storage Area Network (SAN)
In businesses with large amounts of data, it is cost effective and efficient to use SAN devices as the primary storage container. Storage methodologies continually change, and having majority of the data in one area allows for dynamic consolidation and de-duplication efforts.
Network Attached Storage (NAS)
NAS devices play a critical role in backup and disaster recovery plans. They represent the most complete second copy of active data. Additionally, these will often be connected to the cloud backup site.
Wireless Access Point (WAP)
Los Angeles building are old and wireless is terrible, especially in Santa Monica. This is due to a combination of factors. We have quite a few tricks up our sleeves to solve connectivity issues.
As technology has changed, so has the cabling. For a lot of buildings the cabling is the rate limiting factor for transmission speeds.
- CAT3: 10Mb
- CAT 4/5: 100Mb
- CAT 6: 1000Mb of 1Gb
These speed differences have drastic effects on the overall speed of a network.
For a great breakdown of the differences click here.
Voice over Internet Protocol: Phone systems are can now be run over the internet instead of traditional phone providers
We specialize in making the complex look easy…
Reach out today to see if you’re getting the most out of your tools. We work with all sorts of industries – designing, implementing, and maintaining effective networks tailored to each budget.