Bentley embraces cloud still further with Microsoft Azure

Bentley - logoI’m attending the Year in Infrastructure 2013 Conference, Bentley Systems‘ annual showcase for all they do in relation to software for the infrastructure sector. Highlight (for me) of this afternoon’s press briefing in London was the announcement that Bentley CONNECT Services, “to be successively extended to all of Bentley’s software subscribers to complete the reach of project and asset information mobility, will be fully provisioned through the Windows Azure cloud from Microsoft.”

I will be reviewing my notes and looking more closely at the move and what it means for Bentley ProjectWise and for SaaS in general, later in the week. For now, here is some of the news release:

“Windows Azure will unify Bentley’s own software and support enterprise, making it accessible to add value directly in the “live” context of users’ work, through Bentley CONNECT SELECTservices for software administration and technical support and Bentley CONNECT LEARNservices. In addition, it will underlie an incremental business model – enabling Bentley to complete its reach in “software as services” – through Bentley CONNECT MANAGEservices.

Speaking here at The Year in Infrastructure 2013 Conference … CEO Greg Bentley reviewed the effective strategies emerging this year … to take advantage of information mobility for better performance of infrastructure projects and assets. By now comprehensively “connecting through cloud services,” he said, projects could effectively, securely, and immediately augment the information mobility returns on their successful existing internal collaboration initiatives.

To help achieve this, Bentley CONNECT can span users’ project environments across participants, firewalls, supply chains, joint ventures, and disparate vendors’ software, as well as across Bentley’s information modeling application portfolio, Bentley’s ProjectWise collaboration servers, Bentley’s AssetWise servers for operations and maintenance, and Bentley’s growing mobile apps portfolio. Cloud services being previewed for users include Bentley CONNECT Project Sharing Services, Bentley CONNECT i-model Validation Services, Bentley CONNECT Content Services, and Bentley CONNECT Scenario Services.

Bentley’s decision to choose Windows Azure as the technical foundation of Bentley CONNECT allows it to extend its proven capabilities with new services uniquely enabled by an always-on “cloud.” By embracing Windows Azure Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure Services, Bentley is aligned with Microsoft’s commitment to hybrid environments, comprising cloud and on-premises computing – a crucial factor in meeting the unique requirements of organizations that design, build, and operate the world’s infrastructure. In addition, the global footprint of Windows Azure is a major advantage as Bentley users are key contributors to projects worldwide.

SaaS commercial offerings

Update (29 October 2013) – Revisiting the #yii2013 Twitter stream and wading through the wad of news releases given out yesterday, I should also mention that Bentley announced it is extending the reach of its software by providing it as a service (SaaS):

  • Bentley SELECT Open Access will provide “unrestricted access to Bentley’s portfolio of information modelling applications – unencumbered by conventional software procurement cycles”.
  • “Bentley’s new MANAGEservices offering facilitates the provisioning, rapid deployment, and operation of Bentley’s ProjectWise collaboration services and AssetWise asset information management services in a hybrid cloud services environment.”

The first option appears to aimed at organisations with Bentley Enterprise License Subscriptions, but the introduction of MANAGEservices (PDF brochure) is – for Bentley – more radical. It enables “instant-on” access to various cloud services, allowing small firms access to enterprise-strength (and previously enterprise cost) software (hosted by Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and other service providers around the world), with the UK’s Highways Agency one of the first to implement ProjectWise in this fashion. Questioned by AEC Magazine‘s Martyn Day, Bhupinder Singh confirmed that users could be able to stream applications via the web and work via virtual desktops (assuming they had adequate broadband capacity).

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