Today’s workforce is mobile, and just as we expect to access our data from anywhere with the cloud, we demand full use of that data while on the move. For those of us who use advanced modelling or simulation technology for work – like engineers or designers – it’s important to find ways to collaborate, share data and develop new products in a flexible, secure and cost-efficient way. For some years now, this has required a powerful local workstation, but increasingly this can be done from the datacentre. With about one in six workers telecommuting, how can an IT organisation provide the best solution for both in-house and off-site teams?


Nowadays it is very rare that an engineer works alone on a conceptual project. Much of the time engineers need to share their work – designs, 3D-animations (VR/AR) or construction plans – with other co-workers, either from the same company or partners. This task is very cumbersome with workstations because of the large files that need to be transferred from one device to another. This is not very efficient and can be risky. With the consolidation of the data and the delivery of the application outside of the data centre, these problems disappear: the data is centralised, which means that every stakeholder can access drawings or animations without transferring the data from one workstation to another. The data can also be accessed easily from any location on smartphones or tablets, enabling them to share on-the-go.


Furthermore, workstations reside on (or under) the desks of engineers and designers, in places that cannot be secured easily, – unlike systems in the datacentre where security is high. Theft of physical assets remained the most prevalent kind of fraud in 2016 based on The Kroll Annual Global Fraud and Risk Report 2016/17. Therefore, centralising the data and virtualising the applications which are currently running on workstations should be a major driver in the protection of Intellectual Property. This is certainly even more crucial than centralising the desktops on which critical data are stored, but not as critical as new product developments made on workstations.


Besides, the virtualisation of the workstations and centralisation of the related data brings all the benefits known from VDI technology (virtual desktop infrastructure). These include better support, better protection of the data and savings through a more efficient use of resources like CPU, GPU and storage. Lately, NetApp and Nvidia introduced a solution for the next virtualisation wave: the workstation virtualisation. The solution is based on the Converged Infrastructure from Cisco and NetApp’s FlexPod, enhanced with the virtual GPU (GPU GRID) technology from Nvidia, and is called 3D FlexPod.


This solution is a good fit for the many verticals leveraging 3D intensive applications (even with 4K displays) for example in the engineering, manufacturing, healthcare and gaming/entertainment industries. Workstation virtualisation is making a real splash and with 3D Flexpod on hand to keep our workflows collaborative, even those rogue 3D graphic files won’t slow the 3D FlexPod down.


For more information, watch the short demo below:


Christian Lorentz

Christian has held a variety of positions as System Engineer, Consultant, Product Marketing Manager and Product Manager for Digital Equipment, Chipcom, Cisco Systems and Riverbed. Christian joined NetApp in 2015, as Sr Product and Solution Marketing Manager for EMEA , and has over 20 years’ experience in the networking and storage arena.

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