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7 Reasons To Move Your Architecture Desktops To The Cloud

7 Reasons To Move Your Architecture Desktops To The Cloud

Architecture desktops. Yesterday's favorites?

What technology do you use to run the software with which you design buildings and infrastructure? Most architects today use Intel architecture desktops which provide them the computing power, RAM, processors, cores and graphics boards to run complex software and render large design files.

However, while architecture desktops are still the most popular tool for designing buildings, a growing number of architects are turning to the cloud to run software instead. Why is this?

Introducing the cloud for architects

 The cloud is simply a term used to describe outsourced computing power. At most architecture firms the servers and desktop PC’s which your software runs on are held physically on-premises. On the other hand, with the cloud, you connect over the internet to computers that are in large cloud datacentres elsewhere.

Rather than storing all your files on your architecture desktop in the office, all the computing power happens on the servers you rent. This means that you do not need the best architecture desktop computer to run CAD or BIM software. Instead, it runs in the cloud data centre. You then access this cloud-based computer from any device.  

What are the benefits of replacing architecture desktops with the cloud?

Case study: Read how architecture firm DSP uses the cloud

7 ways the cloud beats architecture desktops  

If you have only ever used architecture desktop computers to run your preferred software, outsourcing your computing power to third party servers may seem not seem the best option. Nevertheless, there are several benefits to this model:

1 - Saves time

If you use a cloud server to render your models and process changes, you can outsource all that computing activity to dedicated computers elsewhere – and that frees up your time. Rather than rendering on your desktop (which slows you down and makes it near impossible to do other work), using the cloud lets you keep on being productive.  

2 - Much less expensive

Architecture desktops are incredibly powerful machines. The minimum requirements for a software such as Revit demand are high: 16 GB RAM memory, a fast processor, an expensive graphics board. They come with a price to match – a professional architecture desktop will cost $2,000 at a minimum. On the other hand, using a cloud service to run your architecture software can cost as little as $16 per month.

3 - Improves communication and collaboration

The cloud allows multiple people to view an architecture model from anywhere. This means that clients or contractors can view your building design and ask questions. People don’t need to be in the same room at the same time to view drawings and can collaborate to make changes without less risk of misunderstandings.

4 - Work anywhere

As the coronavirus lockdowns have shown, it is so important for businesses to be flexible and allow their staff to mix work from both home and the office. Unfortunately, if you depend on an architecture desktop, remote working is much harder because you must transport that machine out of the office to your home. On the other hand, using a cloud-based architecture computer lets you log in remotely from anywhere and be productive. For this ‘new normal’, the best choice is a cloud based workstation.

Read more: 5 questions to ask before buying an architect computer

5 - More powerful computers

If you opt for a cloud-based architecture computer you can access all the most best graphics cards, processor, RAM and storage on the market without having ever having to buy them. With designairspace’s cloud-based architecture computer, you can run your CAD and BIM software on powerful machines that are reglarly updating.

6 - Best Security

If you use traditional architecture computers, you must store your designs on a physical machine in your office. This is risky, however. Whether it is theft, flooding, fire or anything else, storing all your files and hardware physically inside your company building exposes you to many threats. If they were held in a specially designed cloud data centre which is almost impossible to break into or damage, you get the best protection possible.

7 - More flexible workforce

A final benefit of using the cloud to run your architecture software is that you can access a more flexible workforce. If you need a designer with specific skills, they do not need to physically come to your office to use your software or edit your models. Instead, they can access the remote desktop from anywhere in the world. That means you have far more options for hiring skilled consultants and freelancers.

Replace architecture desktops with the cloud

designairspace provides the best cloud-based virtual architecture desktops that can run all popular CAD, BIM and architecture software. Our virtual desktops are based in data centres in Germany and on both coasts of the United States and are highly secure, reliable, and fast.

If you are looking to upgrade your architecture desktop - or simply need some flexible computing power for a specific project – designairspace can support your goals.

To get started, begin your free trial today.

Architect Computer - 5 Steps The Best Choice For Any Architect

Architect Computer - 5 Steps The Best Choice For Any Architect

5 Questions To Ask Before Buying An Architect Computer?

An architect computer is a serious investment - you will want to choose the best machine that supports your needs today and in the long term. After all, you do not want to be stuck with a computer that takes half an hour to render a basic model, when you could have purchased another workstation that does it in minutes.

With so many powerful machines out there, it can be difficult to decide which architecture computer is best for you. This doesn’t have to be. In this quick guide, we will look at five steps to pick the best computer for any architect.

  1. Sizing your machine
  2. Windows or Mac?
  3. Your usage of 3D design software
  4. Your budget
  5. Desktop or laptop

Whether you are a student or an IT system professional buying a computer for architects at your business, the following 5 steps will help you to your decision.

5 steps for choosing an architect computer

The following five steps will help you choose the best device for your needs.

1. Size your system: 3D design software and model size of your 3D designs

      Architects will first need to know which BIM modelling software they will use, and what the minimum system requirements are for that software. This is the most important factor to consider when sizing an architect’s computer. After all, “heavy” 3D modelling architecture software – such as Autodesk’s Revit - needs lots of power.

      Whether you are buying an architecture computer as a student or you are an IT systems manager for a large architecture firm, it is vital to ensure that the machine can run the software required. 

      Therefore, visit the website of the software company and review the minimum hardware requirements (for Revit, see here). You are looking in particular at the size of two important components.  

      • The minimum CPU: what minimal amount of computing power? Your vendor will recommend a minimum CPU performance, measured in GB of RAM. Most vendors spec a minimum of 8GB of RAM.
      • Graphics power: what is the minimal recommended graphics card (from vendors such as Nvidia or AMD)? The minimum performance of a graphics card or GPU (such as from the popular Nvidia Quadro family) is 2GB RAM.

      Our advice for Revit: rather than picking the minimum performance of 8GB, we recommend 16 GB of RAM. If the size of your central design model file is larger than 1GB, than pick a CPU that has a performance of 32 GB RAM. You normally won’t need a bigger graphics card than 2GB, unless you also want to do 3D rendering work (Lumion, VRay, 3D Studio Max). Students  who don’t know which software program they will use should contact their college to find out what 3D design software they will be using.

      2. Operating System

      As opposed to other knowledge workers, architects will consider two operating systems: Microsoft Windows and Apple's Mac OS.

      Windows is the most widely used operating system among architects and students simply because there are far more machines available and at a lower cost. You will normally find high quality computers at a much lower price than the Apple equivalent. Windows is generally better known and supported by IT departments and university computer repair teams too.

      That being said, the Mac OS is probably more popular among architects because of its focus on design and usability. A perennial drawback is that there’s no Revit version for the Mac OS.

      3. Your planned use of 3D architecture software

      A recent new trend is that virtual computers can run the graphics-intensive software that architects typically use. A virtual computer gives an architect access to a best-in-class virtual machine which runs on the cloud. Just like Google Docs, a virtual computer requires you to connect over the internet to use your preferred architecture software. The advantage is that you can buy very affordable laptops or desktops (or a Macbook laptop or iMac workstation ) and then rent a relatively low cost (starting from $16/mo) but high specs (32 GB of CPU RAM, powered with nvidia GPU’s up to 8 GB RAM) remote desktop online.

      Learn more: What Are The Costs Of Remote Desktops For CAD And BIM?

      There are other advantages of virtual machines: you can work with them on practically any device (Windows, MacOS, and mobile devices if you must), and from anywhere.  

      To summarize: if you don’t need your 3D BIM software 40 hours a week (or if you insist on working on a Mac), you should really consider a virtual workstation (if they meet the requirements in step 1) in combination with a low-spec, low-cost laptop or desktop computer (or iMac or Macbook Pro).

      Bear in mind that virtual machines will only work if you have a constant, reliable internet connection at home, in the office or at school, similar to what you would need for watching Netflix. If you do have such a connection, then you can save a lot of money over time. Plus, your designs will always be stored securely in the cloud rather than being held on an expensive machine which could be a target for theft. 

      4. Your budget

      Speaking about money: how much are you willing to spend on an architect's computer? As a rule of thumb, it is usually best not to economize on the computing power or graphics card - even though Nvidia or AMD graphics cards can be more costly than the rest of the system. In the long run this will pay dividends since you will save hundreds of hours waiting as the computer processes renders, and you can store far more data on the machine itself.

      5. Desktops or laptops?

      A final question to think about when choosing your architecture computer, is whether you prefer desktops or laptops. A stationary desktop or workstation offers the advantage of being easy to customise - you can add more memory easily, pick a specific nvidia graphics card, etc. On the other hand, laptops are of course mobile, and you can use them anywhere.

      It is of course possible to use a virtual architecture computer on both laptops and desktops. If you have gone into college or work and not brought your laptop, you can still use any internet connected computer to log onto your machine remotely and work on your designs.

      The laptop also comes with a sizeable screen. However, most architects will want to buy dual screens, which is a separate expense. If you choose a laptop, you should factor in the cost of a base-station to connect your laptop to a dual-monitor screen.

      The shortlist for your architect computer

      The sheer quantity of architecture computers out there can make choosing a machine overwhelming. However, by using the 5 steps you can easily narrow it down and find the best architect computer for you. Let's summarize and simplify here: 

      1. Sizing your machine: at a minimum 16GB of RAM and 2 GB of GPU.
      2. Windows or Mac: pick a Windows systems, unless you can't live without a MacOS. 
      3. Your usage of 3D design software: if you're not a heavy user - working with 3D design software on a full-time basis - go with a virtual machine. 
      4. Your budget: don't skimp on CPU and GPU power. 
      5. Desktop or laptop: if you're a heavy user, we recommend a high-end desktops or workstations. For all others, we suggest standard laptops (or MacOS) in combination with a virtual workstation.  

      Virtual architecture computers from designairspace are ideally suited to architecture firms and architecture students looking for a flexible and cost-efficient option for running architecture software - either on affordable laptops to Apple's most impressive iMac's.

      To learn more about designairspace’s virtual architect computers, read about the industries we serve or begin your free trial today.