Leica Geosystems AG, a leading provider of measurement solutions and part of Hexagon, has replaced local workstations used for compute-intensive CAD applications with a central solution based on HPE Moonshot. Centrally in the data center, two Moonshot chassis with a total of 55 Moonshot cartridges provide internal employees and external partners with impressive computing power for 3D design with Siemens NX. This is possible because every user has a Moonshot cartridge with its own CPU and GPU. Thanks to HPE Moonshot, Leica Geosystems AG was able to significantly reduce system management efforts and improve international team collaboration.
Leica Geosystems uses CAD software NX, developed by Siemens PLM, to develop accurate measuring instruments. The development process distinguishes itself from others in its close and early integration of external development partners and suppliers. The large amounts of computing power required in development were originally provided by several decentralised HP Z600 and HP Z400 workstations. External developers and suppliers were provided with specially configured workstations and notebooks.
Over time, this led to a complicated and heterogeneous IT environment that could only be managed with a lot of effort. Another big disadvantage was that external partners for team projects could not, or only with great time and expense, access construction data saved at the headquarters from outside. Since several workstations were approaching their end of life, Leica Geosystem’s IT team decided that it would be best to restructure their IT in development. The aim was to create a high-performance CAD environment that can be accessed and centrally managed from anywhere, while using compact hardware sizes with the highest energy efficiency.
Leica Geosystem’s IT admins considered several technology scenarios with HPE Pointnext, eventually deciding on a centralised IT infrastructure in a computer centre leveraging HPE Moonshot and Citrix Virtual Desktops for the distribution of virtualised desktops and applications. HPE Moonshot combines all the advantages a computer centre has to offer with the high performance level of local workstations.
Unlike centralised solutions with the hypervisor layer, Moonshot provides each user with their own “published desktop” with a respective powerful GPU and integrated SSD in the computer centre. This innovative concept prevents users from having to share resources and provides them with the computing power required for power-hungry applications.
A Moonshot infrastructure consists of computer chassis that are loaded with plug-and-play cartridges. Each chassis can be loaded with a maximum of 45 cartridges and is pre-installed with various components for management, power provision and networking. Leica Geosystem’s Moonshot desktops for its employees and external partners are published via Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, with deployment, operating system and application stack run centrally via Citrix PVS with a Golden Master Image. After the successful PoC, the solution was put into production.
HPE Moonshot gives internal and external employees access to a high-performance CAD construction environment
Marco König, IT Systems Engineer – Infrastructure
The new Moonshot solution solves known issues and makes work a lot easier for system managers. Marco König of Leica Geosystems: “Our centralised system architecture based on HPE Moonshot provides our employees with high-performance CAD workstations regardless of their location or time zone. Users benefit from the untapped processing power provided by a Moonshot cartridge in the computer centre—guaranteeing even our construction partners in Scandinavia a stable and fluid workflow with our centralised IT. We can now specifically grant external partners access to our construction data, which is a huge relief for collaboration. And we don’t have to buy complex, bulky hardware in a computer centre to get these benefits. Moonshot Chassis are extremely small scale and do not require complex network installations.”
Hannes Töfferl, Head of Application & Data Center Technology at Leica Geosystems named one more important advantage: “Management and maintenance of systems is now much easier. The integrated management console gives us a good overview of the entire landscape at all times. Thanks to the single image approach, updates and new applications can be made available to the entire organisation at the click of a button, And in the event that we require an additional internal or external CAD workstation, we just push another Moonshot Cartridge into the chassis. The scalability is phenomenal and you don’t need to hoard expensive power reserves.”