Home > Backup System, Workstations > Build a Network System for CAD Operations, Part 1: Prevent Catastrophic Failure

Build a Network System for CAD Operations, Part 1: Prevent Catastrophic Failure

A network system in a CAD facility is a vital part of the operations of any CAD production team. The nature of CAD work has value far beyond the price tag of the workstation, software and server. CAD files often have hundreds of man hours wrapped in data files – time and effort that equals money.

From an IT perspective, no CAD operator should have all the work he/she does sitting on a computer. It is essential to make CAD files available as shared files. Often, teams of people work on CAD designs. Plus other people need to review the work. It’s important to have a network that facilitates the review process as well as the data integrity. Updates of CAD software have continually improved the operator’s ability to work as a team. However, a solid network is still an essential part of the CAD production environment.

Don’t Rely on Luck

We had a client with CAD files sitting on his laptop that represented 150 man hours. He had been traveling extensively overseas, and he wasn’t able to back up his computer as normal. The hard drive failed. He was lucky. At great expense, we were able to retrieve most of his data. But besides the hefty bill for recovery, he lost the time involved in retrieving the data, not to mention the mental anguish.

So, given that your CAD files represent a huge chunk of your time and mental energy, how do you prevent catastrophic failure? You make sure you have your files stored in a secure location.

Our next post will explain one way to do that.

Authors: Mark Shaw and James Ecklund

  1. April 26, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    There are only two schools of thought in the arena of backup procedures. There are those who fail at the concept and those who succeed. And the only definitive means of determining in which school you reside is to look back on an infrastructure failure and ask yourself “Am I still in business?”

    I could not agree with you more that a CAD workstation should never be allowed to house the data on which the user works. Even in scenarios where files are “copied temporarily” are unacceptable due to the unpredictable nature of unpredictability. Any environment requiring more than one drafter requires a server to house, distribute and store the CAD data. However, this is far and away not a backup solution.

    While there are as many ways to “back-up” as there are users needing to backup there are really only two scenarios: on-site and off-site backup. And of these two, only one is acceptable: off-site backup.

    The on-site backup suffers (most often) from the major deficit of user and/or IT inattention. Oh sure, we all MEAN to backup. We intend to switch the tapes. We hope to remember to turn the NAS drive back on after the power failure. But more often than not, we don’t. We are too busy drawing. We are too busy catching up on work lost during the power outage. We are too tired to remember after the big push at the end of a project.

    Nope, on-site backup (when performed by a person) isn’t going to cut it. Even when it is automated (and it should be) all you have done is move your all important data from one room in the office to another. So sure, your data is backed up! Congrats. Let’s just hope there isn’t a fire. Or a break in. Or a tornado. Or a gremlin or whatever else can destroy things in your office. Maybe an angry raccoon. I don’t know.

    The answer? Automated, off-site backup to a service using multiple data centers. We have experimented with several backup scenarios (many of which were bad) but we finally settled on the Barracuda Backup Servers and service (http://goo.gl/HHzhm). This little piece of local hardware sits in our server rack and automates the backup process of our local servers. The Barracuda keeps a local copy of the backup for fast and ready retrieval of files while it also transmits a copy of our data to out of state data centers for redundancy and recovery from catastrophic events.

    No the hardware and the service is not the cheapest. But how much is your business worth? And that is not a matter of hyperbole. Every engineer and architect needs to ask themselves “What do my clients pay me for?” Naturally the very first answer should be “service” but the tangible thing we sell is data. We are in the business of creating, modifying and distributing data. So what will you have to sell the day after a fire, or hurricane or zombie attack if you have no data. Nothing.

    But that will be ok, you’ll be out of business anyway because you didn’t think backups were important.

    – KFD –

  2. April 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Hi Curt,

    We couldn’t agree more! Thanks for your comment!

    Mark & James

  1. April 25, 2011 at 8:31 pm
  2. April 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm
  3. July 14, 2011 at 5:46 pm

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