Riverbed accelerates AutoCAD again
AutoCAD 2010 gets back with the program
AutoCAD users with tortoise-like WAN file transmission across Riverbed optimised networks can breathe a sigh of relief: AutoCAD 2010 files sprint across the network like hares on steroids.
Riverbed's Steelhead WAN optimisation appliance speeds TCP/IP network transmission and also deduplicates files to reduce the number of bytes sent across the link. For this to work well, there have to be redundancies in the data inside a file.
AutoCAD users in the architecture, engineering and construction fields typically work on drawings, make revisions and then file the drawing. If such revised drawings are sent across a WAN link, then there is often a lot of redundancy and the file transmission time much reduced, as the Steelheads detect the redundant data and do not send it.
However, in May last year, it was found that Steelhead performance with AutoCAD 2007, the latest revision of the AutoCAD software and file format, was dire. Files took much longer to traverse a network because AutoCAD 2007 reorganised file contents, for faster local disk access, even if few or no changes were made to a drawing. This stymied Riverbed's deduplication.
The problem has continued since then, but with the 2010 revision of AutoCAD's file format it has been sorted.
A Riverbed performance brief (pdf) notes: "AutoCAD 2010 has resolved these issues, giving the strong results shown."
Riverbed says it will be able to accelerate AutoCAD 2010 network transmission by up to 100 times, while typically cutting WAN bandwidth consumption by 50 percent to 90 percent. It notes that organisations that once waited 30 minutes to open a drawing will now be able to access it in seconds.
There are, Riverbed says, hundreds of its customers using AutoCAD. Eric Stover, Autodesk's AutoCAD Product Line Manager, said Riverbed and Autodesk "teams have worked closely on engineering to ensure productivity and performance to our customers."
An AutoCAD 2010 FAQ (pdf) states: "the AutoCAD 2010 DWG file format has been updated and is different from the 2007/2008/2009 DWG file format. This new format is also the same DWG file format that is used in the latest releases of the Autodesk industry-specific products such as AutoCAD Architecture 2010, AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCADCivil 3D, AutoCAD Civil, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Mechanical, and AutoCAD MEP software applications."
The changes mean that AutoCAD users upgrading to AutoCAD 2010 will get back the performance gains they used to have with Steelhead WAN optimisation before the AutoCAD 2007 file format came along. Sounds like instant gratification. ®
A few years ago I worked at a 10,000+ employee consulting firm using AutoCAD 2006 over a WAN using Steelhead 'optimization'. I had never seen such hideously slow file use over a WAN in years of working in the industry. Ok perhaps that sounds like hyperbole, but you had to be there. This article explains the problem, finally.
Experienced AutoCAD operators will know that any latency between operator 'drafting speed' and file operations over a LAN or WAN make concentration difficult. Our IT WAN optimization specialists, 4 time zones away, not understanding the issue was really how AutoCAD files were handled by the WAN accelerator, located the latency at an interface between two telecommunications infrastructure service providers. Perhaps that was part of the problem. I'll give IT credit, they persisted in trying to improve and tune the Steelhead and file servers. The problem only affected AutoCAD users in the firm's 'remote' offices. M$Office users and those in larger offices with their own file servers didn't have the problem. Those few of us that had the problem started to feel like idiots. In the end I left the firm after a year of holding my breath, the unsolved latency issue was such a distraction to my work.
I hope this AutoCAD 2010 is truly improved, but if it's merely recreated pre-2007 conditions, I don't think that will cut it. Happily I'm not in an AutoCAD shop currently and my stress level is just fine if not my finances. My hope is that this issue becomes better understood in AutoCAD shops running Steehead WAN optimizers. Sadly my ex-employer, one of the world's largest consulting firms, didn't understand the issue. But then that was 2 years ago.
Try out the upgrade to see if it works before deploying it company wide. Of course that would mean everyone was still using the 2006 release and would have had the bonus of not migrating their entire library of files to the broken file format. Now for the suckers that did stay current, each existing file they need to access will need to be converted the first time... very slowly.
The true question is, did they just roll back the file format?
Have I understood this?
They have taken three years to get to where they were three years ago?
They should get some gubmint contracts out of this.