With a boatload of announcements about acquisitions, new products, agreements and promises delivered over several days beginning on Nov. 7, the provider of a suit of software and services widely used for infrastructure design, construction and management unveiled a raft of moves that, taken together, help define its technology strategy, especially with respect to 3D information model files and point clouds.

During the three-day conference, users from many disciplines and sectors that employ Bentley Systems software reacted with approval as the announcements rolled out at the company's annual "Be Inspired: Thought Leadership in Infrastructure" conference, held in Amsterdam.

"We are at the tipping point now with BIM and mobility because devices that are useful are in our hands now," said Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems Inc., Exton, Pa., in remarks made at the event.

Bentley credited the rapid proliferation and repurposing of consumer products, such as the iPad, into wirelessly connected field tools for construction as accelerants to the development of new processes for the collection and exchange of project and asset information. He says it is a "tremendous" moment for software developers, who no longer have to struggle to find hardware capable of supporting innovations. "Thank goodness we don't have to invent it, just take advantage of it," he said.

The company's array of design and asset management tools are used in the development of buildings, roads, bridges, rail, geospatial systems and plants, but the common denominators among them are Bentley's MicroStation platform for modeling and simulation, its ProjectWise platform for collaboration and work sharing and its AssetWise platform for managing operational information. Most of the changes affect those foundation levels, so they should have a broad impact as they are made available now and during the next few weeks and months.

"That's the secret sauce—they're all in the same platform," commented Bhupinder Singh, senior vice president, Bentley Software. Follow-up interviews with users and technologists inside and outside the company helped sort out the implications of the blizzard of information.

Transmittal Management

One announcement involved expansion of the company's strategic relationship with Microsoft Corp. and its Windows Azure cloud operating-system partner program.

Bentley says it is beginning to implement, in stages, new services that will integrate with ProjectWise and AssetWise, using the Azure platform to serve data over the cloud. Huw Roberts, Bentley's global marketing director for the buildings sector, says Azure is well suited for collaboration of large, dynamic, broadly distributed teams with intense exchange needs.

The first service offered will be a secure transmittal management system, configurable for private or public clouds as well as for on-premise deployments. "When looking at the transmittal service, it's a perfect fit," says Roberts. "The transmittal service is going to be running on the Azure platform—probably the first of many."