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.

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I had the same discussion with Autodesk, where they rather want you to use their Cloud products. We work in a closed environment and do have the same issue. With Autodesk it is a sole compliance issue, which we were able to solve. We finaly offered to switch our 110 Collection licenses away from Autodesk which enabled a weaver from their side. …. :wink:

I would be interested in your Architecture for virtualizing your CAD and your experiences with Remoting the CAD.


Michael Maaß

Three years have passed since this thread opened.
There are still some questions unanswered.

In general, a license is personal, thus reflecting the issue of ‘who is behind the (virtual) machine’.
When it comes to network versions, only the number of activated machines at the same time counts, so if the virtual environment has access to the Trimble licenses servers, there should be now problem.

Maybe the EULA needs to distinguish between personal licenses and network regarding the prohibitation of the virtual hosting.

There are also private server network licenses for VDI environments (citrix etc.) but that server software has to be running on a physical machine.

It act like the Trimble servers. (Eg. If you have a 10 seat license, the 11th user has to wait until another collegue signs out)

But now we have subscription, which is personal all the way by the way it is attached to a Trimble ID.

The EULA states about Trimble ID’s that you may have one Trimble id as individual, but an Entity may have more… confused?

The software itself is still desktop software, the difference lies in the way it gets activated (classic license with serial or via Trimble ID)
No Saas.

I think (hope) Trimble will continue to offer solutions to give people access to use the software, regardless in which environment they are, or what prior licenses or Maintenance plans they had.

Hi Mike, thank you for your insight.
I am aware of the trend towards personal licensing as it has been introduced by Autodesk and Adobe among others. As soon as the so called network licensing is also withdrawn, the products are no longer usable in a public sector (military) context, as we are working in either in closed networks for security reasons, or can not accept inside workstations transport any information to untrusted servers outside our network. So an on premise license server is the only available solution.

I work from Germany an do understand, that different parts of the world do have different views on information security, but I am bound by laws and regulations on that account.

I understood from my distributor that the Sketchup Pro version can be obtained in the above described configuration with a minimum of 5 seats which is acceptable. That will enable a floating License model within our network. However the licensing server within our network would have to be a bare metal device.
This is what I didn’t get. As we use virtualized machines to serve Autodesk Licenses (among other) and the License key is calculated from serverid and network-adapter characteristics, technically this shouldn’t be a problem. My hope was, that someone had experience with a similar configuration. And could help me out before I order a license key that might acutally not work on a vm.

The next level of ambition will be to run the Softare on a virtualized Desktop wich allso is most probably “Not supported”. That does not imply it can not be done.

Thank you for your Engagement

We have (mostly governmental) clients who bought a desktop which solely runs that service for this reason, because they could not virtualise it. Any physical connection, however, is off course, by default not save.

It would be nice to offer a SketchUp version which could be optimised for usage in these environments.