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Thread: Should I use revit server or VPN/Remote Desktop

  1. #1
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    Default Should I use revit server or VPN/Remote Desktop

    I have just started a new job and have been given the task to research local and remote users accessing revit projects. After a little research I think I need a little input to see which path to follow.

    Currently there are 2 revit stations in the office and we have a consultant who works from a home office with their own licensed seat of revit. We currently have revit 2012 installed but can update them to 2013. I think the office server is Windows Server 2003.

    We want to have a central file that can be accessed by the users in the office and also by the remote consultant. There might be the occasional user working from home but that would be minimal. The main question is, should I try to set up a revit server in the office or a setup a VPN for the remote user?

    If I set up the revit server can the remote user access the file without setting up a revit server at his location? He works on a home network without server software.

    Then the other part in I want to avoid the Remote Desktop because we do not have a third seat license nor a powerful enough computer to run revit. So I am trying to avoid the cost factor. This leads to the VPN. I think if I set up a VPN then the remote user can access the project without any additional costs.

    After reading through I think it comes down to Revit server or VPN? What are the main advantages or disadvantages?

    Thanks

    <edit> also is Autodesk 360 an option for a solution? I will be researching this a little further <edit>
    Last edited by StephenJ; 2012-07-20 at 08:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Revit Technical Specialist - Autodesk Scott Davis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should I use revit server or VPN/Remote Desktop

    Revit Server is for Local Area Network (LAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN) access only, so your consultant wont be able to access the Central File from home over the internet. They would have to be on your network, on the same domain. Central File access in the office is easy, just create a central file and local files.

    There are options for having remote users access your central file on your server, but they will require that the consultant has his license installed on a machine on your network/domain, and then they can VPN into it remotely.

    Another option is a "Virtual Private Cloud", which is perhaps the best solution for you, but will cost a bit more, initially. A VPC will have one "super computer" in your office, that can run mulitple instances of Revit on the same machine. The users in your office and outside of your office can access this "super computer" from anywhere in the world, and from any device. So the speed/power of the machines that you work on wont matter. And the OS wont matter either: PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Windows 7, 8, Linux...as long as it has a web browser. And you can work from home, from the office, the consultant's office and home, literally anywhere. You could be on a plane that has WiFi at 35,000 feet, and still be working on your project.

    Here's the company that can set up a VPC for you: http://www.bim9.com

    They will sell you the "super computer" and get everything set up and configured for you. The reason why I say this is more expensive initially, is because down the road, your "personal" machines you are using wont have to be upgraded to keep up with Revit. You just use whatever you have now. The speed/power of the machine you work off of wont matter. In the long run, you will save money because you wont be buying new machines every year or two.

    Hope that helps!

    p.s. BIM 360 will not be an open for what you are tryign to do...BIM 360 is a cloud-based file aggregator, and not for "central file sharing".
    Last edited by Scott Davis; 2012-07-21 at 06:00 PM. Reason: bim 360
    Scott D Davis
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    Default Re: Should I use revit server or VPN/Remote Desktop

    Thanks for the response. I will look into the solution and try to budget it if that is a feasible solution.

    Now for a side question that comes to mind. This is a quick fix idea. Is it possible for me to make a copy of the central model to local and then send the local copy to the remote user. Have them work in a specific area send it back and then I will import it to the central file.

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    Default Re: Should I use revit server or VPN/Remote Desktop

    How far away is the remote user from the office? Revit Server works best when there is a lot of bandwidth (1.4 megabits (T1)), and the latency between user and server is under 40 milliseconds (do a ping from the DOS command prompt to obtain latency).

    Revit Server is the better overall solution over a VPN. I agree that RDP should be avoided. It is not supported by Autodesk, and does not work as effectively as Revit Server.
    The remote user does not need to set up Revit Server at home, however they will need a good dedicated connection (e.g. Comcast xFinity). The remote user will have to set up some configuration files, a DOS environment variable, and open up the remote firewall for ports 80 and 808 for Revit Server. Just make sure they are connected via the ethernet cable, instead of wireless. It will be twice as slow on wireless.

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    Default Re: Should I use revit server or VPN/Remote Desktop

    I ran a test and found that I can copy my local file, bring it home, open it with a warning about not finding the central file, then work on the file. After working on it I brought it back to the office and opened it and saved it back to central. The central file was updated. There were a few steps of figuring out error messages but it worked fine.

    I can see this as a solution only if I plan on taking the file home without anyone else working on it. There would be too much management with my consultant to see this as a viable solution. I can see him updating a wall and then uploading to central and mucking up something I worked on. My current solution for this project is have him bring his laptop to my office and work off of our server.

    I will take time vetting all the possibilities personally and making myself the guinea pig.

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    Default Re: Should I use revit server or VPN/Remote Desktop

    Quote Originally Posted by meng005 View Post
    How far away is the remote user from the office? Revit Server works best when there is a lot of bandwidth (1.4 megabits (T1)), and the latency between user and server is under 40 milliseconds (do a ping from the DOS command prompt to obtain latency).

    Revit Server is the better overall solution over a VPN. I agree that RDP should be avoided. It is not supported by Autodesk, and does not work as effectively as Revit Server.
    The remote user does not need to set up Revit Server at home, however they will need a good dedicated connection (e.g. Comcast xFinity). The remote user will have to set up some configuration files, a DOS environment variable, and open up the remote firewall for ports 80 and 808 for Revit Server. Just make sure they are connected via the ethernet cable, instead of wireless. It will be twice as slow on wireless.
    He is about 10 miles away. Is it possible to put revit server on a workstation(Win7) and not a Server(Server 2003)? I was thinking if that would make the implementation easier on the remote users side.

    We are in rural Vermont and do not have xfinity or similar service once you leave the town areas. We can get about a 4 to 6 Meg connection over our local cable provider. The business cable internet in town is much faster.

    So, if I use myself as the test, is there documentation on setting up the remote user(the DOS variables, and CFG files)?

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    100 Club meng005's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should I use revit server or VPN/Remote Desktop

    Unfortunately, you will need to use a server operating system, in order to run Revit Server. This is because Revit Server operates through Internet Information Services (IIS), which is server based. Here are the Autodesk requirements for Revit and Revit Server 2013 http://usa.autodesk.com/revit/system-requirements/


    The method you suggested previously with copying the local file will work, if the Central model does not change much during the "disconnect." The worse case scenario is that the copied Local model will not be able to synchronize and update with the Central model. There is the slight possibility that one can copy-paste work from the copied Local model into a newly created Local model - but this is of last resort. Definitely, this is not a recommended workflow.

    Good luck!

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    Default Re: Should I use revit server or VPN/Remote Desktop

    VPN is a very secured channel of accessing office network. However, it speed becomes slow or sometimes it does not work from various hotels, airports, railway stations etc. where VPN usage and internet traffic is high. It is always a better solution to use 3rd party remote support services such as logmeinrescue, gosupportnow, GoToMyPC etc. in order to allow users to access computers remotely over internet.

  9. #9
    I could stop if I wanted to TroyGates's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should I use revit server or VPN/Remote Desktop

    I work from home a couple days a week and found it works great to use Revit Server over VPN. To use Revit Server at home, you can install it to Windows7, its just not supported by Autodesk. I have been using it this way for almost 2 years and have no issues using Revit Server on Windows7. I've even opened models from my laptop over VPN using my cell phone's data connection via tethering. It wasn't fast, but I was able to open models from Revit Server since it opens from the local hard drive cached copy and only needs to sync any changes with the central server in the office.

    Here is a website that describes how to install Revit Server on Windows7: http://do-u-revit.blogspot.com/2011/...s-desktop.html
    Troy Gates
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    Default Re: Should I use revit server or VPN/Remote Desktop

    Troy,

    I am trying to setup Revit Server 2013 thru windows 7 and got it going and works great. I am using Revit Server on the same machine I use Revit on. I can connect to the Revit server with using this same machine.

    Here is the problem, when I go to my other computer in my office I can connect to the revit server but when I go to open a project I don't get the Revit Server listed on the left pane at all. I created the RSN.ini file and it is in the right folder. How can I resolve this issue and see the revit server to open new central files for local.

    I also have another question. I don't know very much about VPN and setting trusts etc from one office to another office. Could you explain how you get that to work. I cannot find anything very useful on this. My scenario is I work from my home office and it is me and another person (so 2 of us max.) and we work as a consultant with another office that I will be installing revit server 2013 on also. How do I get the Hosts/ Accelorator computer from both offices to "talk" to each other so central files are updated on their own?

    Any help with explaining this or links or any overall information will be a great help.

    Thanks,

    Chris

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