Global Information Systems Headquarters made the determination to create a virtual desktop for 3D CAD applications using XenDesktop and XenServer and to proceed with globally centralized CAD/PDM data management. An experimental system was created, and attempts were made to actually use it from Nissan R&D locations in North America and the U.K.
"In the trial, the system was actually used by on-site CAD/PDM engineers, and they gave us reviews of responsiveness, screen resolution, etc., when operating the 3D CAD application on a virtual desktop over a WAN. At that point, we received harsh feedback stating that in comparison with the high-performance workstations used locally, performance was bad and the system was unusable," says Matsuki, looking back on the results of the initial trial. After receiving the results of the evaluations by on-site engineers, the IT Infrastructure Service Department implemented tune-ups encompassing the two aspects of systems and networks and worked to optimize performance. Also, Matsuki determined that it was important not only to improve the system but also to evaluate usability for actual users, so he added Kenji Iwama, a top-class CAD engineer from the CAD Engineering Promotion Department of Nissan Techno Co., Ltd., to the project staff.
"The mission I was given was to evaluate the results of the tune-ups carried out from the point of view of CAD engineers in order to improve practical performance. In addition to this, together with Matsuki, I investigated which scenarios to prepare in order to correctly perform evaluations of desktop virtualization suited for use by overseas engineers," says Iwama.
Beginning in April 2014, Noguchi took charge of the IT Infrastructure Department, and through a system involving cooperation with engineers from Citrix, Hewlett-Packard Japan, and others, work was started on the construction of a full-fledged system for accessing data centralized in Japan from North America and the U.K. through a virtual desktop.
Alongside the technical project by the IT Infrastructure Service Department, in order to alert the North American and U.K. CAD engineers to the merits of desktop virtualization, Iwama created 13 scenarios covering all CAD engineers, including the engineers who create the actual 3D data and, in particular, engineers who use viewer software, and conducted additional tests with on-site engineers.
"Today, development tasks for automobiles have become extremely specialized. We have worked to obtain accurate evaluations from the various sites by classifying users' jobs and using scenarios to alert the engineers to the merits of each task. By actually visiting North America and the U.K. and operating the virtual desktop under the actual 3D CAD environment, we were able to create tune-ups aligned with the needs of on-site engineers," Iwama explains.
Following the establishment of a virtual desktop user environment with which the overseas engineers are satisfied from the perspectives of both IT infrastructure tune-ups and scenarios involving usage by engineers, the system went into operation in July 2015, one year after the start of the trial in July 2014, in North America, and in October 2015 in the U.K.
The virtual desktop for 3D CAD created by the team at the Global Information Systems Headquarters of Nissan Motors features an NVIDIA GRID K2 board, and the XenDesktop virtual desktop created on XenServer can access NX, the integrated 3D CAD/CAM/CAE solution of the Siemens PLM software, from North America and the U.K.
"We are at the starting line for implementing the system in North America and the U.K. We have 16 overseas locations, and at the design and R&D sites of the remaining locations as well, we are planning to implement the system," says Takabatake, touching upon future projects. "From the point of view of operating the system, we would like to keep usage of network bandwidth and hardware resources to a minimum on Linux virtual desktops as well, and with regard to XenDesktop, we are looking forward to HDX 3D Pro being compatible with Linux. Also, the number of CAD/PDM users will increase in the future, so we would like XenDesktop to continue to be a product that achieves maximum functionality while keeping use of network and hardware resources to a minimum," says Noguchi, stating his hopes for the future.
Matsuki discusses his goals as follows: "The virtual desktop is already being used for other applications. Thanks to what we have achieved with 3D CAD, we are now able to use the virtual desktop for a wider range of tasks. XenDesktop makes this type of thing possible. As we implement it in our various locations, I believe that the way we work will change completely. As far as we are concerned, we have managed to construct a highly practical virtual desktop infrastructure, and we will continue to work on the challenge of using it to create new business value."