Jacobs is developing a scalable solution for running all transport demand model packages in Cloud across our offices including Cube (previously part of Citilabs) and Emme (previously part of Inro) under the Bentley umbrella.
The cloud solution involve creating and deleting Virtual Machines (VMs) before and after the model runs. This is because VM instances are the most costly resource and cloud providers charge for the high end instances required for the model runs by the hour.
We have automated most of the process to deploy any number of model runs in the cloud, but is faced with an issue of authenticating licences using Bentley Connect.
Currently we are using Cube for the tests with Cube 6.5 CE. Authenticating license for each of the machines beat the whole purpose of having an automated solution.
The checkout option currently available with Bentley Connect needs machine IDs which won’t be available before hand as the VMs are created on the fly.
As VM instances are costly to maintain while not actively running the model, most of the upcoming cloud solutions (by others as well) will be of this nature.
The best solution is to have a floating licence arrangement whereby we can keep the licence activated in a host (low spec) machine in the cloud with the newly created VMs pinging to that machine to automatically activate the licence.
It should also be noted that demand model runs of major cities usually run 2+ days with the current model we are testing taking up to 3-5 days depending on machine configuration. That is where a scalable solution comes into picture.
We are aware that a number of agencies in Australia (and other parts of the world) are exploring possibilities with open source packages like ActivitySim and MATSim for demand modelling instead of proprietary software.
With computing requirements necessitating a cloud solution, licencing issue will be seen as a drawback as open source platforms doesn’t have this issues and work seamlessly in cloud.
Hopefully Bentley can enhance the licencing method for the cloud as this is the only stumbling block which we are not able to automate in the development pipeline and would appreciate a fruitful solution soon