How Engineering Firm WBCM Is Moving to 100% Virtualization

by John Fanelli

Small IT teams often have to play big to keep up with their firm’s global operations.

That’s the case at Whitney Bailey Cox & Magnani, LLC (WBCM), an architecture, engineering and construction services group that designs and builds projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, Lockheed Martin, the Ritz-Carlton and other clients from around the world.

About one-third of WBCM’s 200 employees are knowledge workers who use GPU-accelerated applications, such as Outlook, Office 2016, web browsers, Adobe Photoshop, Skype for Business and the Windows 7 operating system. Meanwhile its many engineers, architects and designers use graphics-intensive applications like AutoCAD, Plant 3D, Civil 3D, Microstation and Revit to deliver a diverse project portfolio. With all those professionals simultaneously accessing the network, the company’s four-person IT department, led by Chris Calaf, has been challenged to keep up, especially in managing network latency.

Employees experienced a significant decline in quality and user experience the further they were from headquarters. Workers in the field weren’t able to access designs on job sites. Calaf and the team wanted to make sure their technology aligned with their business, so all employees and applications could operate at peak efficiency.

To meet these goals, the team upgraded to Citrix XenServer, and a newer version of Citrix XenDesktop with Framehawk, added NVIDIA GRID vGPUs, and used Goliath Technologies Performance Monitor for troubleshooting.

A rendering of Fells Point Recreation Pier Hotel, a WBCM project.
Rendering of Fells Point Recreation Pier Hotel, a WBCM project.

“With Goliath we can monitor the impact on our end users, with Framehawk we increase the application experience, and with vGPU we can reallocate and throttle resources where they are most needed,” says Calaf. “With this visibility and flexibility, we can set thresholds and be alerted when we see latency of more than 300 milliseconds. Then we take action.”

Today, WBCM is 70% of the way to its goal of complete virtualization. And Calaf is satisfied with the progress.

“The fact that we’ve been able to set up two offices with little extra capital or skill needed was very beneficial,” he says. “There is no infrastructure in those offices, just terminals, printers and a firewall. When we talk to colleagues at other firms, they’re surprised at the performance we’re able to achieve.”