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IMAGINiT Clarity Incorporates Must-Haves for Customers
Beau Turner, director of Business Development for IMAGINiT, talked with AECCafe this week about the latest release of IMAGINiT Clarity and IMAGINiT Clarity LT for Autodesk Revit Server 2013 software from the IMAGINiT Technologies division.
Designed to enhance the Revit Server platform, this is a web-based solution is in its second release offers new features in task automation, security for BIM models and project collaboration. Non-Revit users can also benefit from the product as they can receive data with secure connectivity.
Customers were concerned naturally with ROI – how much time does it take a manual user to do a task as opposed to having the task automated. They were also concerned with security of the BIM model – “how do you put a price on security where your stuff is either open for everybody to see or you can limit it exclusively, “ said Turner.
Price was an issue, said Turner, so they also offer in this release a much smaller package, Clarity LT, which is a bundled package. This has got all the same features as the full Clarity, but it’s limited to two projects and 25 users.
Task automation was one of the biggest must-haves that users wanted with version 1 of Clarity. “People were looking to generate PDF and DWF files, and those are things they take and then project back up and archive,” explained Turner. “Right behind that was exporting out to things like DWG and IFC. These are the things that are run on a regular basis, and take a lot of time, so we included those in being an automated task.”
The moment the user saves to central in task automation, this automatically kicks on, when there’s a change. “The reality is very few people actually do this immediately to generate tasks. But it’s more likely they’re going to do it a few times or on demand.”
IMAGINiT is strictly focused around the data flow with Revit users to Revit users and out to those people who need access to the data who are not Revit users. “Up to this point everyone who chose to use Revit Server were really just doing it inhouse and a few select firms across the world were trying to work with other partners,” said Turner. “The problem was there was no secure way to do that. With 100 projects, when you bring in a partner they can see all 100 of those projects, so either it required different instances of Revit Server, where you might have one set up for one group and another one there just became a management nightmare. And with Clarity all that is done in one box, and users only see what they’ve been explicitly given permission to see, whether they’re in Revit or inside of Clarity or Dashboard. There are a lot more firms that are doing outside partnering, not just multiple offices but multi-firm, which wasn’t easy before.”
Clarity limits what users inside or outside the firm can see. “In today’s economy, firms that are small need to continue to find ways to compete with large firms, and firms all need to find ways to compete with less,” Turner said. “Rather than hiring additional staff, or taking people’s time as the top billed resource, and they’re waiting for 2 ½ hours for their machine to generate PDF files and they can’t be more productive as their machine is tied up and they can’t do anything else. With task automation they just gained 2 ½ hours back every time they need to print.”
“It could be weekly or every couple of days – their deliverables multiplied across users and 25 or so projects and you see incredible ROI for that,” said Turner.
What is really new is how non-Revit users are responding to being able to use Clarity in their workflows. Non-Revit users can see data in another file format such as Excel, where as before there was no native way to be able to look at those files. Now the non-Revit user can just log into Clarity and they don’t need to know anything additional, there is a button to export to Excel, they don’t have to call anyone else, they can use tools they’re familiar with. They can view it all right there, they can also export it and use that data any way they want without adding any more time to the project and having to get other people involved.
Administrators can manage users, projects and the health of the infrastructure, and see what the project and historical data look like.
In this version of Clarity if the number of servers drops or a connection drops you can set the values and it will send an email right to the administrators instead of finding out later that it hasn’t been working. Users do not have to be IT or Revit gurus to use this product.
“In this release we support multiple, central hosts,” said Turner. “In the past, there was one central host; if you had 100 projects and no matter where they were spread out across the country or the world you only have that one point that everyone could access. Now we have that distributed, so if you’ve got four, like the firm HDR, a large organization, they’re making use of multiple central hosts. It helps them balance their workload. With Clarity they can get to one single spot and they can see all their central hosts, and drill down to the individual hosts themselves or look at everything as a whole.”
With task automation in this release, there is the ability to add distributed task servers. In the past if you ran 100 tasks and you had one single processor or one single task server, you had to wait for it to run one at a time. This could take perhaps ten hours to run those tasks.
“Now, if I want to run a couple more, I want to add ten task servers here, all of those are processed and done in an hour,” Turner explained. “Because of that new workload, this is a quick way to add more employees at a very minimal cost. Like having robots working for you processing this data – computing power is cheap and if you want more just bring it online.”
The need to explicitly control who has access to the BIM model is where the Security BIM model comes in. In a single firm you may share information with partners but you may also share information with government projects. All this needs to be very secure. “If all of a sudden a partner can see 5 other projects they’re not connected to that doesn’t instill confidence or security that you’ve got data that everyone should or could have,” Turner pointed out. “So with Clarity you have project level security, you explicitly assign control for this user to be on a specific project.”
Turner added that they also control access, bring in new partner sites and locations and for the local accelerators they use a certificate based VPN. That gives the level of control that if the relationship sours or that partnership is done they can renew the connection itself and revoke that certificate. “It’s one more way to make sure that when data should be cut off it’s officially cut off and terminated.”
IMAGINiT Clarity is an enterprise software which means the customer own the data, the servers, the virtual machines, the hardware -- everything associated with it. IMAGINiT provides the software infrastructure they’re paying for.
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-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.