When Crises Disrupt Workflows, Computing Hardware Can Make the Difference Between Floundering and Prospering13 Oct, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff
Equipping your team for a successful work-from-home experience can enable your company to boost efficiency in challenging times.
Professionals around the world are struggling with unforeseen challenges right now. Most were caught completely off guard by a forced work-from-home (WFH) scenario, lacking the equipment necessary to continue their work in an efficient and productive manner.
The current crisis is influencing our behavior as end customers as well as our working style — and will continue to have an impact well in the future. To endure and thrive, companies must analyze their existing workflows and adjust them to the new situation. Fortunately, times of uncertainty are often the best times to upgrade computing infrastructure, boost productivity, and get a leg up on the competition.
Currently, many companies are purchasing new workstations to equip their power users, creators, design engineers, and visual effects (VFX) specialists for new WFH scenarios, explained Suman Singh, CELSIUS Workstations Product Marketing Manager at Fujitsu. "These professionals who work with highly demanding workloads still need powerful, reliable desktop workstations," he explained. "This is the right time to get more efficient in daily work routines or to streamline operations — to do more iterations, run a greater number of simulations in less time, without any loss of data integrity."
A key factor in achieving those efficiency increases is dodging the slowdowns brought on by outdated hardware. "Imagine the plight of a power user working on an advanced application or 3D model design from home, but with an old, slow, unreliable, underpowered system that his company sent him home with," Singh said. This can be a nightmare scenario for any professional, but especially for those who work with large datasets that extend rendering time. Long rendering wait times drag down project efficiency and delay production, resulting in higher project costs — and they also disrupt the creative flow.
The Downsides of Disruptions — and How the Right Hardware Can Help
All eyes are on the coronavirus crisis for now, but those who have been in business for a while understand that the landscape is continually being reshaped by unexpected events — an unending procession of them. Whether it's a pandemic, a change in import restrictions, a supply chain meltdown, the introduction of new governmental regulations, or any of the other myriad disruptions that can turn "business as usual" on its head, certain negative impacts are likely:
Disruptions increase complexity. Even in the best times, companies are already juggling multiple teams, locations, software applications, and file formats. Events such as mergers, public health crises, and moves to WFH exacerbate these challenges. In the face of additional obstacles, employees need reliable devices to minimize system downtime and produce quality content.
Disruptions create havoc with staffing. Perhaps you have fewer employees after a company restructuring — or more, thanks to an acquisition or an influx of new hires (but they're all untrained). Or the number of workers has remained the same, but they've been uprooted from their familiar workgroups, and they're struggling to adjust to isolated WFH environments.
What's the best approach for purchasing new hardware when staffing levels are in flux? Workstations have been, and always will be, highly reliable for demanding applications and workflows; COVID-19 did not change that. However, there is a new demand from IT departments for maintaining hardware, and especially software, in a more secure way.
Many companies have mobile machines top of mind right now, but that's not the only option. "Companies with short-term vision will do the easy thing: shift to mobile workstations wherever possible," said Manuel Saller, Product Category Manger Europe for CELSIUS Workstations at Fujitsu. "They will keep or buy new desktop workstations only for the projects/workflows/workloads where it's a must. Companies with long-term vision and clarity will plan for an appropriate mix including mobile, rack, and desktop workstations; virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI); and GPU virtualization." Finding that "appropriate mix" for any particular scenario or workflow demand will require an examination of individual requirements; keep an open mind and evaluate the pros and cons of mobile, deskbound, and remote working styles for your needs.
Disruptions reduce productivity. Whatever the scenario, any big changes in the business environment typically reduce productivity, at least in the short term. Companies can counteract this by doing the following:
- Accelerate workflows. Implement computing devices that have the power to support demanding, high-performance software applications.
- Prioritize reliability to limit slowdowns and crashes. Select machines that minimize downtime, consistently deliver high-speed performance, and will support your most-used applications without a hitch. And remember that reliability encompasses more than workstation-caliber hardware; look for certifications from independent software vendors (ISVs), which indicate workstations that are compatible and optimized for stability when running professional software applications.
- Reduce project completion time. Opt for hardware that can handle heavy workloads that demand faster processing or more powerful compute capabilities.
Disruptions damage morale. Change is stressful for everyone, but the right equipment can help users feel better prepared and more capable of tackling new challenges. Investing in hardware that suits the needs of employees working from home does more than preserve production capability and help companies retain trained workers — it shows employees how valued they are, saves them time, and reduces their frustrations.
Three Workstations, Three Ways to Rise Above Challenging Events
Once the potential benefits are clear, you'll need to make choices about which types of workstations can best help your company thrive during a crisis — and beyond. There's no one right answer for all companies: It depends on the customer's workflow and the software applications they are using. For low- to mid-level workflow requirements, mobile and rack workstations can do the job; however, power users still need desktop workstations. This is especially true for high-end 3D CAD, CAE modeling, and simulation; VFX/animation/high-end photogrammetry; and AI and machine learning, deep learning, and other advanced software development work.
To tackle these tasks and more, Fujitsu recently added three desktop workstations — the J5010, W5010, and M7010 — to its CELSIUS family:
The Fujitsu CELSIUS J5010, tailored to 2D and entry-level 3D modeling, features a space-saving 8.3-liter housing yet can accommodate full-height graphics cards, up to the NVIDIA® Quadro® P2200 (which usually is dedicated to larger-sized deskside workstations). Applicable in a multitude of application scenarios ranging from CAD and visualization to multimedia and manufacturing, the CELSIUS J5010 is suitable for multi-monitor scenarios in space-constrained workspaces.
Fujitsu CELSIUS J5010
The Fujitsu CELSIUS W5010 microtower tackles entry- to mid-level 3D CAD, AEC, and CAE, and can accommodate full-length graphics cards up to the NVIDIA® Quadro® RTX 5000.
Fujitsu CELSIUS W5010
The Fujitsu CELSIUS M7010 is a single-CPU, dual-GPU model that enables scaling of memory and performance to handle the largest visual computing workloads. It is optimized for high-end 3D CAD, CAE modeling, and simulation, but is applicable to virtually all kinds of workloads and applications. The CELSIUS M7010 is the only workstation from Fujitsu that supports NVIDIA NVLink™ technology for high-speed GPU interconnect (i.e., connecting two NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards).
Fujitsu CELSIUS M7010
Equipped with roomy storage, fast drives, and OpenGL graphics, these new workstations meet the needs of manufacturing, AEC, and media and entertainment professionals — helping them work more efficiently in bad times and in good. They give users more control over their work, rather than exposing them to unexpected downtime scenarios or compute limitations. And for those professionals with the most compute-intensive workloads, such as heavy simulation tasks or intensive rendering jobs, Fujitsu offers even higher-performing systems in the CELSIUS M- and R-Series.