ENERCALC: The Practicing Engineer’s Toolkit

Since 1983, ENERCALC has been a leader in engineering software solutions for structural and civil engineers. Its flagship product, the Structural Engineering Library, is one of the most widely used tools of its kind in the US.

PC roots

The Structural Engineering Library began as a set of Lotus 1–2–3 templates for PCs, and has since grown into an extensive Windows structural engineering analysis and design application. ENERCALC includes not just frame analysis, but modules for steel, concrete, timber, masonry, retaining walls, and the dozens of other components that go into a real world structural project.

Michael D. Brooks, SE President & Founder of ENERCALC, Inc. said, “Customers love our Windows-based tools, but now need something they can run from any device with no installation. A cloud offering is essential for us as a company because it allows us to offer more flexible alternatives to our standard licensing, including automatic recurring subscriptions. Cloud deployments eliminate installation, activation, updates, file shuffling and multi-computer version consistency issues — excellent for both client and vendor.”

Initial online offering

Recognizing their customer’s need, ENERCALC first wrote their own thin client system in 1999. It was a revolution, but took place a little too early for the Internet. This solution provided value to customers and allowed a new type of product offering for ENERCALC. However, managing and maintaining its infrastructure proved hard since it too took time and resources away from ENERCALC’s core business.

Meanwhile, an installed launcher EXE was needed as HTML5 was still unproven. This lengthened the user onboarding experience and required both knowledge of and support for the customer’s client system.

Scaling capacity also required custom management code, load balancing, and careful monitoring. Backups, failover, and security all had to be handled in-house. Like many innovators, ENERCALC had to do all of the hard work themselves.

Moving to Xi Frame

ENERCALC again launched a cloud system early in 2016 using tools from a small company in France. It worked well but the tools were plagued with problems and support was minimal. Extensive server infrastructure management was still up to ENERCALC. Later that year, ENERCALC moved their online customers from their own solution to a new offering built on the Nutanix platform. Launching ENERCALC SE on Xi Frame for the first time was a simple process of installing the application in the Frame Sandbox and sharing a link with testers. Customizing the platform for the optimum user experience required only moderate code changes and was well supported by Frame features, designed with Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), like ENERCALC, in mind.

The key advantage for ENERCALC was the ability to easily manage and automatically scale capacity, without compromising the end-user experience. Xi Frame scales with consistent performance for each user, whether they are the first or the hundredth. Plus costs are held to a minimum with the granular design of usage billing.

With Nutanix, ENERCALC was also able to eliminate the friction of downloads and installs. The Xi Frame client runs in a browser, which removes the need to know the details of the client operating system, or to maintain special clients for different client platforms. Hosting in the cloud provides an attractive SaaS billing model and simplifies the complex job of capacity and resource management. Using a one-VM-per-user design also provides the security and dedicated performance needed for engineering applications. Most importantly, ENERCALC has built an offering that delights their customers, adds to the bottom line, and supports excellence and best practices for U.S. structural and civil engineers.

“Xi Frame has created a new type of public utility here. Our software is available globally with zero installation, maintenance or update issues. IT IS THE FUTURE!” said Michael D. Brooks, SE, President of ENERCALC, Inc.