Virtual Desktop Infrastructure



My company is upgrading the IT infrastructure so that all users work in a virtual infrastructure using RDS (Terminal Services) to better handle and manage multiple connected sites. We will be using Dell R730 servers, ATI FirePro S7150 graphics, VMWare vSphere 6.5 and Windows Server 2016.

I’ve read that the licensing doesn’t allow Sketchup to be used in virtualized environments. Are there any plans to allow Sketchup to function in a GPU enabled virtualized environment with users connecting via remote desktop connections?

Enabling Sketchup to work on our virtualized servers will be a fairly big requirement of ours.


I don’t know about licensing. I would guess that it won’t matter what you run SketchUp on provided it doesn’t consist a crack to the licensing system. I am no lawyer, though.

What has been said is that virtualized environments are not supported. That should only mean that there is no kind of guarantee that SU can be made to work in one. The same applies to most 3D software. I have test driven SketchUp on a different system (Nvidia and Citrix-based) than the one you are proposing to use and it, like all the other software I threw at it worked without a hitch (the SU version was 2015). The VM performed towards our network licensing schemes (Internet based for SU, license servers for others) identically to a standalone PC.

I have had some success with the latest AMD display drivers on a standalone PC, but I still wouldn’t try to implement anything AMD based without testing it thoroughly first. AMD has a long record of driver problems with SketchUp.



Thanks Anssi. Appreciate your reply.

There’s an article by Sketchup about the hardware and software requirements.

Boot Camp, VMWare, and Parallels are not supported environments.

Virtualized Environments
At this time, SketchUp doesn’t support operation in a virtualized environments such as VMWare or Citrix.
Per the SketchUp Pro License in section 1.1: You may not use or host the Software in a virtual server environment.

This is slightly annoying to say the least. Virtualized environments are becoming more popular for enterprise environments, especially with cloud IaaS. GPUs for virtualized environments are now becoming a reality as you can see in this ATI FirePro S7150 video on YouTube. Even Microsoft’s Windows Server 2016 has made a push into improving virtual GPU support.


… for using with business apllications like ERP, CRM, Office etc. which regularly do not have high resp. no demands on the (2D) graphics output… whereas OpenGL-based 3D modelers do need a lot more GPU ressources (hardware, OGL capabilities of the driver) and therefore never were recommendable to run in a virtualized environment.

not knowing this is OK, not adhering to it may lead to display output glitches (performance, artefacts).


Just tried to upgrade to Sketchup 2017 not!

Its a no-go because our corporation has been virtualized for several years and all workstations are VMWare zero clients.

The old Sketchup products worked very well in this environment and most of the other CAD/CAM tools do as well.

We are not going back to a power PC with a high end graphics card on every desktop due to the many advantages of virtualization and how well it has served our overall business needs including total cost of ownership, security, backup, portability, remote access, mobility, scalability, license management, etc.

The idea that virtualized environments are not compatible with CAD is non-sense. Unless you are a power user the differences are negligible and these power users are using different tools. There are very good virtualized GPUs available today that will become a game changer for graphic intensive applications. However, I have used Sketchup everyday for 3 years without a hardware accelerator in a VDI and I am quite happy with the performance. It isn’t clear what problem killing usability in VDI and forcing the user into high end hardware is solving.

There is a place and a market for Sketchup in VDI on low end computers. Examples include office layouts, simple 3D modeling, quick product conceptualization, etc. Not everyone is rendering a rocket ship.

When it comes to the hardcore CAD, which is a very narrow market already well served, the competition is offering VDI solutions. This may leave Sketchup is a rough competitive position since most of the following has been the makers and lower end-CAD users.

I hope Sketchup will recognize the market needs and find a way to allow the product to work in VDI and on lower end workstations without expensive graphics cards. The PC as we used to know it is dead. SaaS and VDI is the future for corporations and even beginning to take hold at home.

This seem like a very odd strategy in the face of contrary trends.


NOTE: The web app discussed below is now know as SketchUp Free.

Trimble is working on something similar. Currently in beta is which runs in a WebGL capable browser. (There are still a lot of the standard features to implement.)
It is hooked into Trimble Connect, and is currently for non-commercial use, but I would expect there to be some SaaS paid workflow (centered around a commercial Trimble Connect account,) in the future.