Technical and creative professionals in the automotive and manufacturing industry use graphics applications that require an immersive visual platform. These professionals design, simulate, and visualize products while working on complex 3D modeling workflows. They therefore require a high-quality interactive graphics platform that is also collaborative, secure, and flexible. With the changing dynamics of the modern-day workforce, it has become challenging for IT teams to manage a professional graphics platform that is running on physical workstations.
Traditionally, designers and engineers in the automotive and manufacturing industry are tethered to high-end physical workstations. IT teams in these organizations find the deployment, upgrading, and maintenance of physical workstations difficult and time-consuming. For example, in the automotive industry, each production model has a single version of the software for its entire life cycle. IT administrators need to ensure that the application versions for multiple production models are supported on workstations and are compatible with the underlying operating system and hardware. It is often challenging for IT to ensure interoperability among different components in a physical workstation with multiple application versions.
Also, the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the automotive industry must collaborate with multiple suppliers. The designers and engineers in these organizations work on multiple design environments that are intended for different customers and partners. These environments host 3D graphics applications from vendors such as Dassault Systèmes, Siemens, and Autodesk. To avoid the cost of investing in additional workstations, IT teams must either deploy physical workstations for each environment or deploy multiboot workstations. Managing large numbers of physical or multiboot workstations during upgrade and patching activities is cumbersome.
Real-time collaboration among a globally dispersed team of employees, partners or customers presents a significant challenge for organizations in the automotive industry. These organizations use complex 3D modeling workflows that require large datasets. These datasets are typically stored in shared storage. For collaboration purposes, the datasets are often downloaded over a WAN network to physical workstations in a partner or customer organization. Copying the datasets back and forth over the WAN network delays the execution of projects and the time-to-market (TTM) of vehicle models.
The loss or breach of intellectual property (IP) is a major concern for automotive manufacturers. The 3D modeling files and other critical data are often transferred outside the corporate firewall to supplier organizations for collaboration purposes, creating a risk that the IP might be compromised and seen by competitors.
Lastly, for users, switching between multiple design environments is time-consuming and hampers productivity. Designers and engineers must either go to physical workstations hosting different modeling environments, or, in the case of multiboot workstations, reboot their systems to switch environments. Physical workstations limit a user’s mobility. Also, a data security risk arises in the case of mobile workstations because the data might be transferred outside the corporate firewall.
In the automotive and manufacturing industry, a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) with virtual workstations presents an opportunity to overcome many of the challenges involved in IT management and maintenance, collaboration, security, and flexibility. Virtualization enables IT teams to deploy and present multiple virtual workstations to a user’s endpoint device. The virtual workstations reside in a data center and IT can manage and maintain them centrally. Upgrading operating systems and applications and applying security patches is easier. Also, if an outage occurs, virtual workstations can be recovered more quickly than physical workstations.
Virtual workstations enable greater collaboration because large datasets can be copied quickly back and forth between virtual workstations and the shared repository in a LAN network. For collaboration outside the corporate firewall, only a stream of encrypted pixels is transferred over the WAN network, which reduces latency and increases an application’s responsiveness. Employees who are on the premises can make changes to models and collaborate with other employees while on the move by using a mobile device.
Most importantly, with virtual workstations, automotive manufacturers can secure the organization’s IP inside their corporate firewall. For example, they can share their concept models with suppliers through virtual workstations while the workstations remain centralized and secure in the data center. Only a stream of encrypted pixels showing the virtual workstations’ display image is transferred to endpoint devices. It is no longer necessary to transfer the 3D modeling datasets to the shared drive of a physical workstation located in a supplier organization. Automotive manufacturers can therefore collaborate with multiple suppliers without fearing that their IP might be compromised by competitors.
Virtualization gives flexibility to designers and professionals working with multiple modeling environments. Using VDI, you can present multiple virtual workstations with different operating systems to a single endpoint device. Also, virtualization gives users the flexibility to switch back and forth easily among various modeling environments.