Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Revit Server is Desktop no more

Well, we finally gave up. Reluctantly.

Our Windows 7 setup seemed to be working just fine. However we were plagued by Revit crashes following a successful synchronization with central at the location connected to the Local server. At first we thought bandwidth was to blame so we upgraded our connections by installing business cable at the location with the least bandwidth, fully dedicated to Revit Server to Server traffic (2Mbps up, 12Mbps down). We left the previous connection in place to other uses such as VoIP, VPN, etc. In the main office we left the bonded T3 (3Mbps up, 3Mbps down) alone but removed traffic shaping to make sure Revit Server received maximum capacity.We also configured the Revit Servers with their own public IP address so traffic was outside of VPN and thus not slowed down by encryption. The servers are protected and not accessible from outside the network through various router rules and protection safeguards.

Unfortunately this did not eliminate crashing at the user’s desktop. Our next experiment was to switch the Central and Local servers around to see what effect this would have (not the physical machines). We ended up with the Local server in our main office with around 6 people working on server-based projects and 2 at the remote location saving directly to the Central server. Through our upgraded connection, we could now create central files through the Local server, which was not possible in the past. So we know that at least bandwidth cured that issue. The crashing unfortunately followed the Local server and users in the main office started experiencing this crashing following a successful SWC, 90% of the time. Go figure.

Our next step was to install Windows Server 2008 SP2. We did this on the Local server first. Lo and behold, the crashing ceased even with the central server still running Windows 7! At this point we don’t know exactly why this is happening and gave up on our endeavor. We still think Windows 7 should do the job but somehow, there’s some setting somewhere that is causing Revit to blow up. Or maybe WS2008 is more efficient at handling limited resources such as RAM? But why would Revit crash, with no debugging info. available?The machines we’re using as servers are low on RAM so who knows? The journals do not point at the culprit and Revit mysteriously crashes after successful saves (servers keep running fine, projects do not corrupt and the Revit Server administrator reports the saves are successful), so at this point we bow our heads and wave the white flag. Bummer.



Unknown said...

Sorry to hear it wasn't successful for you. We've been pretty successful with Revit Server installed on 2 Windows 7 laptops, but only have a single user on each. Might be the difference.

I am one of the users and work remotely 2 days a week from my home on a consumer cable connection with a Cisco software vpn connection to the office.

A few people have Revit 2012 crash on them with projects on the Revit Server, but we just figured it was the regular, random crashes that we got with all versions.

Dave Baldacchino said...

Troy, another very peculiar thing is that if two users remote controlled two machines connected to the local server via RDC, crashing did not occur (this experiment was done on a weekend with no one else working) but if we were physically in the office, that was another story. It seems that when Revit server was telling Revit that saving is complete, somehow that pulled the carpet from under it's feet, so to speak. Not sure what the difference between W7 and WS2008 would be in that regard as the same components required for RS to work were installed on both OS's.

Jim Salter said...

Thank you for posting this experience! I was strongly looking at trying a Revit server deployment on Win7 pro myself. Looks like that might not be so feasible... bummer, since one installation can apparently only accelerate one connection.

I had sugarplum fairies dancing in my head thinking of lots of cheap Win7 VMs running Revit Server and accelerating multiple connections to multiple partners independently. Guess that's not to be. =(

Dave Baldacchino said...

Jim, you might want to try anyway. Since then, Autodesk made several updates to solve these crashing issues and I've heard of people running on win7 successfully. I think our main problem might have been bandwidth and too little memory on the machines (2gb only). Let me know what you find out!

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