Bentley goes open source to enable build-your-own digital twin solutions

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This post originally appeared on Zeiss’ blog “Between the Poles.” Here, Zeiss digs into Bentley’s open source initiative, which enables customers to build their own digital twin solutions using Bentley’s code.

One of the biggest announcements in recent memory in the design and construction world was made by Keith Bentley of Bentley Systems at Year in Infrastructure 2018 in London. After describing some of the key technologies that Bentley plans to underpin its digital twin offering iTwin Services including ContextCapture for reality modeling and iModelHub for sharing model information, Keith really opened up when he acknowledged that the world had gone open source and that Bentley was following Microsoft’s lead in joining Google, Amazon and many other major companies in embracing open source.

Bentley intends to build it products supporting digital twins around an open source project already on Github called iModel.js.  Keith has committed Bentley resources to developing an ecosystem around iModel.js. I have heard Keith Bentley at a number of events talking about his vision for Bentley technology, but I have never seen him so excited and committed to a new direction like this morning’s announcement. To quote Keith this is a huge thing–for him the biggest thing among the 35 Bentley events that he has spoken at since founding Bentley Systems.

Bentley had puts its toes in the open source water previously. Bentley used open source geospatial components to develop a new front-end for its leading road and rail asset management system AssetWise Lifecycle Information Management solution (ALIM). Bentley also partnered with AGI to support the open source Cesium project.

Bentley has clearly thought through open sourcing its digital twin products.  They have a business model for iTwin Services–not surprisingly for the rest of the IT world, but a significant step for Bentley–it is a subscription model.

To start the iModel.js ecosystem off, Bentley is working with Hack Partners to sponsor and support an Infrahack Hackathon early in 2019.

[Editor’s note: Over at Geoff’s blog, he also dug into the new open-source initiative from Microsoft.]

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About Author

Geoff Zeiss

Geoff Zeiss has more than 20 years experience in the geospatial software industry and 15 years experience developing enterprise geospatial solutions for the utilities, communications, and public works industries. His particular interests include the convergence of BIM, CAD, geospatial, and 3D; open source geospatial, and optimizing utility work flows to support smart grid. Currently Geoff is Principal at Between the Poles, a thought leadership consulting firm.

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