Why is Vault Better?

Dang, didn’t see Nick’s sweet post on points, links, and feature lines. It’s worth a read, click here to jump down the page…then come back to read my Vault commentary.

It’s been going a few days in the Discussion Group, and I’ve waited to chime in to see what others thought. It’s Friday night, I’m still wound up from a Soccer game, so here’s my $0.02 to throw in the mix.

Vault is better than LDT’s project management because it comes with C3D. That’s an obtuse way of looking at it, but it’s also the right one. If you try to compare what we (as a Civil industry) need to what Vault delivers, you’ll throw out Vault and stick with LDT. Definitely a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

While I am teaching a class on Vault at AU, I do not like Vault. Let’s look at what’s not to love:

1. Backup and maintenance procedures are completely unacceptable to most IT departments. Six 9s uptime is the goal. Any process that requires shutting down the service for routine maintenance is flawed in the modern IT age. Additionally, if you are willing to shut it down, you have to store a mirror image of the Vault to back it up, then pull that image offline. Triple the storage space, and a completely boneheaded approach. Most CE firms already have backup plans in place. These plans have served these companies well, and typically combine a mix of storage mediums, rotation periods, and instantaneous restoration tools. Most of these can be done while the primary system is up and running. Want to restore Vault? Kick everyone out, the system is going down. As a former IT Manager, this one alone sends me into conniptions every time I talk about it.

2. Most Civil firms are relatively small operations. You would probably be surprised by the percentage of C3D seats that belong to firms with less than 20 seats. A firm of that size typically does not carry a full time IT staff, making even the relatively minor IT requirements of Vault implementation a scary beast, and leads to…

3. Vault requires additional maintenance and infrastructure. It cannot tie to Active Directory, nor does it play with Novell in any supported form. Novell is an accepted player in the IT marketplace, and Autodesk forcing a SQL box into the mix is arrogant beyond words. On the other side of the network OS divide, if you’re going to hitch yourself to Windows, do it. Let IT use their existing AD and other security tools instead of creating yet another login and permission set to deal with.

4. Assuming you’ll buy my argument that versioning and backup are not required in a project management tool from Civils, then the hardware requirements of Vault are insanely high. At _least_ two times the project storage you’re currently maintaining, assuming a full implementation. More if you’re not willing to shut down the Vault every night to purge the multiple versions sucking up disk space. Additionally, most places will need a new box in some shape or form. If you’re a small business, and on MS, chances are you have Server SBE. SBE doesn’t play nice with Vault. Pick up a new server and CALS to go along with it. Oh, and don’t forget the IT guy to install it.

5. And it’s a change in a workflow that most firms find works pretty damned well. C3D is enough of a disruption to their plan production scheme, why would you add this in with no appreciable direct benefit to the end user?

So you’re saying, “Wow, why the hell would I install Vault?” Because Vault is the price of admission to the C3D universe. Vault is the only way to use project data and references effectively in C3D 2007. Shortcuts were crippled unexplainably, so Vault is the way to go.

Look past the feature set of Vault, consider the design process from start to finish, and Vault is the winner of the LDT .mdb vs Vault 5 contest, hands down.

I don’t like it, but we can make it work, and we can show you how to make money with Vault in place. Curious? Contact us to talk more.


  1. Wouldn’t it be nice if the developement team would address some of our concerns.
    I do really think we are trying to help.
    Well dare to dream.
    Good arguement.

    Your Buddy,
    Uncle FUD

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well James, you’ve convinced me that you can show how you will make money off my c3d implementation, but you have not convinced me that the civil Vault concept is anything other than a flawed idea from the get go. While it may have adbvantages over an abandoned LDDT architecture, it has not been demonstrated to be a good method for handling civil datafor

  3. I want to see this Vault tiger in action… and I want to see you set it up. You know where I am. 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well James, all FUD aside, I have to say I agree with you on this. C3D has its faults and I stand firm that Vault is one of the biggest mistakes Autodesk has made with program.