Operating InfoWorks ICM on Virtual Machines and in Cloud based environments

There is nothing particularly special that you need to do to deploy InfoWorks ICM on a Virtual Machine or on a Cloud platform, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud. It’s really no different to installing the software on a new physical machine.  InfoWorks ICM is capable of running on any (Windows based) host, whether that be a powerful physical workstation, a virtualised Application Server located at a data centre or Cloud based Products/Services from the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Google and others.  The software will be installed in the usual way and then pointed to the location of the Workgroup database and Licence Server. In the case of a full-scale deployment on a Cloud Platform, the Workgroup Database and Shared Results Store would also be hosted on the same virtual platform in order to keep data transfer times to a minimum.

Some organisations have looked at installing just the ICM Remote Agent (Simulation Engine) on a Virtual Host and running the ICM User Interface locally. This is also fine.  As long as the chosen machine/platform has network access to the InfoWorks Licence Server to acquire a licence at start up, and any firewall rules allow data/results transfer to/from the host, the simulation will run as instructed on the Virtual Machine (VM).

If you can run InfoWorks Simulations on a virtualised Application Server located at a data centre, why, you might ask, doesn’t everyone run their massive simulations on Cloud Products where the ‘hardware’ can be scaled to meet demand?  Well, it comes down to the connection speed/capacity between your office (where the core InfoWorks ICM application is typically running locally on desktop hardware) and the Cloud Server where the Remote Simulation is running.  If the ICM model is so big that it needs to run on an off-site Cloud Processor to get competitive runtimes, then the results will likely be absolutely huge.  And that’s the problem.  Any time you save by running in the Cloud is lost again waiting for the results to come back to the office for analysis within the core ICM User Interface.  Also, depending on your client, there may be issues with data security, as models will be pushed to unknown servers in unpublished locations for Simulation.  We’ve found that Water Companies and Government bodies are particularly sensitive to this issue.

You have to utilise a floating licence to run InfoWorks ICM on a virtualised Application Server or the Amazon AWS / Microsoft Azure cloud platform. While Simulations are running there must be uninterrupted network access to the InfoWorks Licence Server from the Virtual host at all times.

Innovyze supply documents which outline the IT requirements for InfoWorks ICM.  The documents provide both a ‘minimum’ and ‘suggested’ hardware specification for InfoWorks.  These requirements need to be met, preferably exceeded, by the virtual hardware forming a VM or Cloud environment. It’s important that the underlying hardware is able provide the necessary performance required for its virtual machine(s) to emulate the performance of the more traditional physical hardware used for running InfoWorks ICM. It is the responsibility of the implementer to ensure that this is the case. In particular, it is important to consider the clock speed of the physical processors when specifying a host system for a virtual machine running InfoWorks ICM Simulations.

Innovyze have an arrangement with a company called AC&E Ltd in the United Kingdom, who have provided us with a Cloud platform to test InfoWorks ICM and compare performance with traditional hardware. The table below is for a 9800 node pure 1D model (i.e. no 2D surface mesh), run for a 1 month simulation using observed rainfall. The performance of the Cloud based setup is highly comparable with the performance of one of our fastest machines at the Innovyze office in Wallingford (Machine ID=SIM04).

We have also conducted some InfoWorks ICM 2D runtime tests utilising a similarly configured Cloud environment, which was also provided to us by AC&E Ltd.  Details of these 2D runtime tests can be found in this blog -> http://blog.innovyze.com/2017/06/27/gpu-runtime-results-for-2d-infoworks-icm-models-2017-update/.

These tests show, above all else, the benefits that Cloud based systems offer in terms of saleability and runtime performance for InfoWorks ICM. Benefits which apply regardless of whether you are working in a 1D, 2D or 1D+2D modelling environment.

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    About Andrew Walker

    Andrew Walker is a Senior Client Service Manager with Innovyze in the United Kingdom, specializing in the computerised analysis of drainage and flooding. He has over 30 years’ experience of modelling the key hydraulic processes involved in urban drainage design and analysis. He is one of the key members of staff tasked with supervising the roll-out and adoption of InfoWorks ICM throughout the UK and wider European marketplace.
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