FACTO GEO Centralizes Local File Data with FAST™
FACTO GEO is a Dutch surveying firm that provides land surveying and mapping data for local governments, residential, and industrial locations. They work with municipalities and water boards to plan new builds and additional expansions. They’re a well-known, professional firm with contracts all over Europe for both residential, industrial, and government work.
Challenge: Unstructured Local Data
FACTO GEO works with national clients to create mapping data and large-scale regional maps for land surveying, residential and non-residential locations, municipalities, water boards, and more. Maps like these are massive and take up a significant amount of space on local file servers and present several sharing challenges, especially over the WAN. Their previous data storage system utilized local file servers to store data, and access was entirely location based at each of their four offices. Data could not be shared outside of the individual branch office, and users in other offices needed to wait for slow transfers each time they accessed or shared a file. Since FACTO GEO relies on in-field data capturing, being unable to collaborate between offices or with field agents presented several data management challenges.
Project data was managed locally in every branch office site on local storage infrastructure. There is a growing need for FACTO GEO to allow collaboration on projects from multiple sites at the same time. Traditionally, with local file servers in every site, this was impacting business productivity as performance was slow and the overall end user experience was poor, especially on large CAD drawings. Subsequently, physically moving (copying) data from one location to the other resulted in data integrity challenges as there was no way to guarantee a consistent experience. In a nutshell, the key requirement for a new solution was that FACTO GEO users were provided real-time access to the latest and greatest versions of the files and were guaranteed optimal performance.
Their on-premise storage system couldn’t handle transmitting and share the large map files, layouts, and designs. Each of these files and their associated programs requires a massive amount of storage space and bandwidth to operate and collaborate across offices, so a locally based, DFS+R solution doesn’t meet that need. Since these files need to be compiled and compounded based on field data, limited access from the field massively slowed down the process and hampered the office-based workforce. Any alterations made within the office required transmitting each of the massive design files over the WAN, which greatly limited FACTO GEO’s ability to share and collaborate within their 200-person workforce.
The unreliable connection speeds and slow file access massively slowed down productivity across the board and made it difficult for their two IT professionals, Alex Coljee and Remco van den Noort, to create a workable IT environment. FACTO GEO relies on sharing that data and collaborating across offices, so unless they could address the team’s inability to access the data on-command, the problem would only continue to grow.
Caching and Centralizing
FACTO GEO realized they needed to address the issue in a way that would improve data access in remote offices and the field without costly investment into gigabyte connections. Gigabit connections between offices would certainly improve sharing speeds, but the cost was astronomical. Storage solutions with local caching like Talon FAST™ provide an easy-to-use, cost effective solution for addressing their centralization and collaboration challenges, so it was a perfect fit.
Through local caching FAST™ could eliminate large file-sharing over the WAN for applications like AutoCAD, Bentley MicroStation, BricsCAD, DGDialog, and Adobe Suite and Probe. The delta differencing feature of FAST™ only transmits file updates over the network, instead of the entire file, so only updates made via these programs are shared. If a branch office or field user needs access to a file, they can use their existing, already cached version and simply download the updates in a matter of seconds. This feature alone massively cut down on slow transfers and collaboration delays for the entire FACTO GEO team.
Additionally, using custom policy-based data management replication principles and location pinning, the FAST™ could ensure map data isn’t replicated across sites but is instead housed in the proper location for each necessary project. With the data centralized and locally stored at the relevant branch offices, the FACTO GEO team now had an efficient, secure storage network for all users in the field and remote offices. The central data set in Deventer could be accessed from Groningen, Bunschoten, and Roermond without massive ten-minute delays for a simple file open request.
Instead of using slow, DFS+R based data replication for backups and storage across all sites, FACTO GEO can access and share data between offices in seconds. FACTO GEO is currently using a secure Azure platform for backups, and the delta differencing feature of FAST™ assists them in avoiding egress charges for downloading and updating the large files. With local caching for active project files, Alex and Remco can focus on improving the network for the entire company instead of trying to deal with DFS+R and WAN sharing headaches.
The benefits to this system are immense for FACTO GEO. Their large files can be handled by any user, in any location, at any time, as if they are working locally. Instead of relying on locally stored data and slow data replication, they can work on each data set instantly using local caching and delta differencing. With the entire data set centralized, users in the field also have immediate and smooth access to data on-demand, whenever they need it.
- FACTO GEO eliminated the need for local data storage and greatly improved data sharing and access times
- FAST™ software utilized local caching to improve file transfer and access speeds by all users
- FAST™ centralized all data into the Deventer hub, allowing Alex and Remco to manage and control the flow of data across the business
- Mapping data no longer consumes the bandwidth and slows down the entire company, instead users can access and operate quickly and efficiently, which greatly speeds up project completion times
Vision for the Future
“FAST™ has been great. New technologies like VR scanning are becoming more of a possibility every day, so we will eventually integrate those technologies into our system, and FAST™ will help us keep the data under control. Our current systems and future VR systems all generate massive amounts of data, so being able to keep that data centralized and only transmit incremental changes improves the user experience tremendously.”