How Exceed TurboX Enables Remote Access for Engineers
Michael Alba posted on December 03, 2019 |
OpenText Exceed TurboX is bringing remote access to the graphically intense world of engineering.
Two users sharing a screen in OpenText Exceed TurboX remote access software. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
Two users sharing a screen in OpenText Exceed TurboX remote access software. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

OpenText has sponsored this post.  

Engineers love speed. That’s why so many of us like designing sportscars, airplanes and rockets. But engineers don’t just want the things they make to go fast—they want the things they use to make the things they make go fast to go fast. Capisce?

In simpler words, engineers demand responsive and reliable software. When you’re laying down a wire a second in Cadence or rapidly adjusting geometry in CATIA, a half second of lag in between every operation—or a crash every few hours—is going to make you want to throw a fist through your monitor. Literally. 

It’s the reason why remote software access—i.e., tapping into hardware and software running in a distant data center—has historically been ineffective for engineering applications. The lag and unreliability of traditional remote access has made it more of a burden than a boon for engineers. The paradigm of remote access has many benefits, and indeed has long been used in other contexts. But for the intensive graphical applications needed for engineering, remote access simply hasn’t been cutting it.

But that may be changing. OpenText argues that its remote access software, Exceed TurboX, is a truly effective solution for engineers. The company claims that Exceed TurboX has four main advantages over previous remote access solutions: better performance, enhanced stability, easier management and stronger security. Remote access is ready for engineering, says OpenText, and its many engineering customers seem to agree.

In a previous article, we examined the benefits of remote access software and why it can be a good fit for engineering workflows. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Exceed TurboX to see how it offers those benefits.

Intro to Exceed TurboX

When you outsource the heavy lifting of your desktop workstation, the flexibility gains are enormous. With Exceed TurboX, you can access graphical applications and desktops running on any X Window or Windows host - this includes Linux, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, and Microsoft Windows desktop and server editions. Access to these systems is provided from any Windows, Linux or MacOS client, with a mobile version for iPad. You can use almost any device, be it a laptop, desktop or even an iPad. Applications are accessed through a web browser interface, and Exceed TurboX supports Internet Explorer, Edge, Firefox, Chrome and Safari. The web interface server can run Windows or Linux or Solaris servers.

OpenText Exceed TurboX architecture. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
OpenText Exceed TurboX architecture. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

For the end user, accessing engineering applications couldn’t be simpler. The user logs onto the Exceed TurboX web interface and clicks to start a session. For example, using a Windows laptop, a user could choose to open an instance of Cadence running on a UNIX server 500 miles away. From the user’s perspective, the virtual UNIX environment is immediately available. It’s as if there was a UNIX machine sitting right under the desk.

Screenshot of Exceed TurboX’s web-based user interface. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
Screenshot of Exceed TurboX’s web-based user interface. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

Of course, the user shouldn’t notice whether they’re accessing hardware that’s next door or hundreds of miles away. The software needs to feel fast and responsive no matter what. According to OpenText’s Erick A. Marroquin, Exceed TurboX offers the best performance available in any remote access software.

“As good as we are, I would never dare to say that we are as fast as having your application under the desk,” Marroquin admitted. “But compared to any other solution that you could get, we always come out on top.”

Exceed TurboX’s high performance is due in part to its proprietary ThinX transport protocol. According to OpenText, this is a significant improvement over remote access protocols such as Microsoft’s RDP or Virtual Network Computing (VNC) for UNIX/Linux. OpenText’s Exceed TurboX supports Windows and UNIX remote access, and reduces WAN bandwidth usage by up to 90 percent.

Exceed TurboX for Engineering

Many engineering companies have adopted Exceed TurboX, most prominently those that use electronic design automation (EDA) tools. In the highly competitive industry of semiconductor design and manufacturing, companies must look for any and every way to gain an advantage over competitors. Remote access and the efficiency boost it provides has proven that advantage for many such companies. Too many to name, in fact—the competitiveness of the industry precludes OpenText from revealing many of its high-profile EDA customers. Suffice it to say that the list is long and the names on it are household.

Screenshot of ANSYS Maxwell running remotely via Exceed TurboX. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
Screenshot of ANSYS Maxwell running remotely via Exceed TurboX. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

One Exceed TurboX user that can be named is Inphi, an international semiconductor company. Inphi was determined to consolidate its data centers in a central location, and was able to do so using Exceed TurboX. Centralization is one of the key benefits of remote access software, and since Inphi has operations in fifteen locations worldwide, the move paid off. Not only does centralization significantly reduce the cost of operating data centers, it also greatly simplifies IT management and administration. Plus, it gives you a centralized grip on sensitive data.

“OpenText Exceed TurboX is a key enabler of a centralized data center approach,” commented Scott Clark, Inphi’s VP of IT and security.

Features for Users

Engineering users of Exceed TurboX see many benefits beyond more leg room under their desks. For example, users aren’t limited to having just one desktop environment—they can open as many remote sessions as they want. You could have an intensive simulation running on a UNIX server and AutoCAD running on a Windows server, and switch between the two as you like.

A virtual Linux desktop running on a Windows machine, with the Exceed TurboX dashboard in the background. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
A virtual Linux desktop running on a Windows machine, with the Exceed TurboX dashboard in the background. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

You can also suspend a session at any time and resume it from any device. The session will still be active in the background (so you won’t interrupt that 12-hour simulation that’s only 2 hours in), but it will cease streaming to your device. You can check in on the simulation with a live snapshot whenever you want, or resume it fully when you’re ready to get back to work. You can even copy session profiles and customize them however you like, provided they follow any rules set up by the administrator (such as which servers should be used, and which profile settings should be locked).

Two users can collaborate by sharing a session, with each viewing the exact same screen. No more emails, screenshots, and hasty annotations to pinpoint that one problematic wire. Users can also transfer sessions to other users. At the end of the day, you could pass off a model to a colleague on the other side of the world so it can be developed around the clock.

Features for IT Admins

As beneficial as it is for engineering users, Exceed TurboX may be even more appealing to IT administrators, beyond the benefits of data server centralization. ETX uses a thin client that is installed once (does not require administrator rights on the machine) and silently downloads the latest client version in the background when a session is launched. Also, upgrades to ETX can be applied without stopping sessions - meaning no interruptions for your engineers.

With Exceed TurboX, it’s also possible to have two or more versions of an application available to users. If there’s a reason to use AutoCAD 2015 for a certain project, an engineer can open a session to run it while using AutoCAD 2020 for everything else. Furthermore, you can have multiple ETX runtime versions, and assign the runtime version on a per-profile basis - so you can install and test ETX patches before setting the new patch as the new default runtime version for new sessions.

The Exceed TurboX admin dashboard. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
The Exceed TurboX admin dashboard. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

ETX can audit the transfer of data between the remote user and the data center—file transfer and clipboard synchronization for copy + paste actions—so that IT can keep track of what information enters and leaves the data center. ETX also enables IT to lock down access to the data center by only allowing remote sessions to be run through ETX. To optimize performance, administrators can receive notifications if a user is causing an abnormal burden on compute resources. For instance, if a user forgot to terminate a high-CPU session and then left on vacation, an administrator could close the session themselves. Exceed TurboX also provides REST APIs that can be used to automate administrative tasks.

Remote Access: Ready for Engineers

The efficiency gains made possible with remote access software are hard to overstate. But if the cost of remote access is engineering users unable to effectively use the software tools they require, then those engineers won’t use remote access. OpenText Exceed TurboX may provide the bridge between engineers and remote access that leads directly to those benefits.

If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of remote access software for your organization, you can download a free trial of Exceed TurboX on the OpenText website.

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