Many construction companies have turned to desktop virtualization as a means to access enterprise applications. For the construction industry, the challenge is technology constraints have made it difficult for processes such as BIM (building information modeling) to be virtualized, where graphical models require high performance and unique compatibility requirements.

Even today, accessing models anytime, anywhere is still, to some degree, a feat for the construction industry. However, a number of technology providers are looking to help the industry access models on the go, at the jobsite, or even while working from home. Some are offering mobile apps to access data, while others are enhancing virtualization, allowing graphics to be virtualized.

Last week, NVIDIA GRID, www.nvidia.com, Santa Clara, Calif., and Citrix, www.citrix.com, Santa Clara, Calif., made a big announcement regarding graphics for virtualized desktops.

With the introduction of HDX GPU sharing and deep compression in XenDesktop 7, construction companies can use the Microsoft Windows Server RDSH and XenDesktop 7 platform to enable the sharing of GPUs (graphics processing units) across multiple user sessions. This is key for a construction project, which typically has a number of different participants that need access to the model.

The technology allows sharing of GPUs across multiple virtual machines, allowing businesses to address a broad set of users with desktop virtualization infrastructure. This new functionality provides value in a variety of verticals such has manufacturing and healthcare, in addition to construction.

For the construction industry, teams can share CAD (computer-aided design) files across multiple virtual machines, enabling the BIM process to extend into the virtual world.

Software providers are also making great strides in offering the model on mobile devices through apps. Autodesk, www.autodesk.com, San Rafael, Calif., for example, has expanded its AutoCAD 360 Pro mobile plans and Web app. The company says the expansion improves collaboration and offers contractors new ways to work with CAD on mobile devices and Web browsers.

As another example, Bentley Systems, www.bentley.com, Exton, Pa., recently announced its Navigator Mobile app, allowing the construction industry to review 3D models on the iPad. This enables construction workers, architects, and engineers to navigate models online or offline.

Technology companies are coming to market with new options to make sharing models easier. Construction companies will need to determine which solution is the best fit for their organization, and develop a policy surrounding how modeling information is accessed on a construction project.