The key to organisation is providing an open platform that allows people to do the core work but also push beyond and do more : Mr. Ian Rosam

Ian Rosam joined Bentley Systems as an MX CAD Product Manager in December 2002 and currently works as a Director of Management at Bentley Systems. He had completed his two decades in Bentley System.

Ian Rosam
Ian Rosam


LONDON (Metro Rail News): Mr Narendra Shah, Managing Editor of Metro Rail News, conducted a one-on-one interview during his visit to London for Bentley System‘s Year in Infrastructure Awards 2022 with Ian Rosam, Director of Project Management, Bentley Systems. In the interview, Ian Rosam talked about the latest technology and software of Bentley Systems.

Ian Rosam graduated in Civil Engineering from Brighton Polytechnic in 1991. He worked as a Graduate Civil Engineer in Norfolk County Council, Norwich, UK, for nearly 6 years (Sep 1991 – Jun 1997)· And after that, he joined MOSS / Infrasoft Ltd as an Application Engineer working on desktop design applications  through to the company’s acquisition by Bentley Systems in early 2002. Ian moved into a Product Management role later in 2002 and now with over 20 years in Product Management currently works as a Director of Management at Bentley Systems.


Here are the edited excerpts: –


Q.1. Our first question is, What is Bentley’s OpenRoads Technology? In what ways is it different from other technologies in a similar capacity?

Mr. Ian Rosam: I like to take a step back to consider how we’ve approached our modelling in the past and how we’ve come to be where we stand today. As part of Bentley’s growth, we acquired various companies and capabilities InRoads, GeoPAK and MX. So Bentley started out with three great sources of civil modelling applications, all based in different locations around the world. These solutions were market leaders but the industry was evolving and wanted more, with greater efficiency, modernisation, extended capability, automation and more to address industry directions. The solution was to develop new capability and consolidate the existing products with a more intelligent design system that is now know as OpenRoads.


What we have set out to try and achieve with OpenRoads is an intelligent design system that carries more information and provides more value to the designers throughout the life cycle, and this technology  underpins products like Opensite Designer, OpenRoads Designer, OpenRail Designer and OpenBridge Modeller. We have tried to incorporate a rule-based system that allows a designer to capture his design inputs and intent (a phrase we use). Building rules into the design allows for intelligent and predictable updating of the model that allows propagation of change in the model for efficiency in design.


In real terms, the rules is where the significant advantage comes in. It provides an intelligent up-date model where as the design changes, relationships are automatically propagated instead of going through manual processes for updating helping to achieve efficiency, automation, reducing human error, for a streamlined and predictable update process for change.


The other important aspect here is that technology changes. Where technology stands today and where it was fifteen or twenty years back is very different from a hardware capability, we are seeing much more with AI/MC in our everyday lives at our fingertips with mobile devices. If we look at the design software being used at the 2000’s prior to OpenRoads, we’ll see that it’s not really very different from what it was in the nineties or possibly even back to the eighties. It means the technology’s been evolving but to software hasn’t really been keeping pace, especially when looking at industry trends with the evolution of BIM process, and obviously, that’s still evolving with the advent of Digital Twins.


Ultimately what these evolving practices required, was a greater level of detail and attribution in the modelling processes to address the demands on the design. So at a simple level, the need for say quantity extraction may need to be extended with richer attribution of the model, this has been observed as an evolving processes with moving from a simple file based CAD system to 3D modelling with BIM processes managing the data. This is where all that OpenRoads modelling technology comes together because it provides a level of detail and attribution that was not previously possible and marks a significant advancement.


The old products were not individually capable of delivering the intelligence to allow for the required increased detailed design processes, to ultimately deliver the attributed model data and service BIM requirements. So, it’s been an evolution of technology and we developed the OpenRoads technology based on the requests of the then existing users but also future-proof against what turned out to be called BIM technology and BIM processes.


Q.2 Bentley’s CAD, ConceptStation, InRoads, GEOPAK, MXroad, PowerCivil etc., have already been popular and compatible tools. How is a new application an improvement? 

Mr. Rosam: All the previous design systems we had with GEOPAK, InRoads, MXroad and PowerCivil were typically sixteen-bit technologies as they were developed way before the current standard sixty-four-bit technologies. So they had their inherent limitations on things like performance, scalability but also had operating system and common development dependencies issues. As a result, while they were servicing in the early BIM world, they didn’t scale as the industry demanded more, that’s why we’ve developed and delivered to service BIM capability as it evolves beyond with Digital Twins.

All those older products have a legacy with the new OpenRoads Technology with products likes OpenRoads Designer and OpenRail Designer, because they have fed into the new technology, steering that new product based on numerous industry experts feeding the legacy knowledge into the OpenRoads technology.

Conceptstation was a new breed of product we launched in 2016. It’s based on a new platform from the traditional CAD desktop; so it’s not an evolution of anything other than experience / technology. It was developed as a new product to service the conceptual design space, that requires rapid prototyping and multiple model assessment with cost analysis to provide a more informed choice for clients.


Q.3. To what extent do you think Bentley’s acquisition of Infrasoft corporation has benefited the company in terms of business scale-up and technological up-gradation?

Mr. Rosam: Both Stephen and I come from the Infrasoft acquisition so I may be biased (laughs). But the goal of any acquisition is betterment and growth in many areas, with technology, client base, domain expertise etc. So yes it’s been one of many acquisitions over the years that has supported Bentley’s growth to where it is today and we are still acquiring companies to build out the breadth. Each acquisition brings with it the inherent knowledge of the market through the industry expertise with its staff, the software and the feedback for the technologies / software in the market, which helps expand the benefits of the acquiring organisation.


Q.4. You are the world’s leading provider of infrastructure software. Could you please state something about your feature software and recent R&D?


Mr. Rosam: This is a great Segway to talk about iTwin. How that is progressing and how it’s going to help. The industry has in the past needed system of file delivery that we have developed but we are seeing a significant shift in delivery focus as we’ve already discussed. Everybody is expected to do more with less and with greater efficiency, which relates back to what we discussed in terms of improved modelling technology –providing capability for intelligent updating so that the design process can be more efficient. Allowing greater model attribution in the design phase automatically, which carries through the lifecycle process, reducing the amount of manual entry that people have to put in place and that feeds through file management systems inherently with the processes we are dealings with now, but also future-proofing that with cloud technologies, specifically with our iTwin technologies and making the critical mindset shift from files to data approach. What we can liken this as a more data-centric approach than file centric, where the model attribution is carried with it in an intelligent model. This compares to current / previous approaches were attributions were typically held externally from the models and managed separately. Now it’s inherent and carried with the data through the processes, ultimately delivered and made accessible to more people. So, it’s raising visibility on that data.


Q.5. Bentley is also trying to provide an ecosystem for the design, construction, education, maintenance and refurbishment. What would be your comment on that?


Mr. Rosam: This speaks to our corporate mission statement to service the infrastructure industry. But realistically we don’t have the resources, knowledge, or understanding in all markets to deliver everything ourselves. So, we must provide an ecosystem that allows people to self-serve, and that’s fundamental to the openness of what we’re doing with iTwin that allows people to use the data they have and benefit from the data they have for the used spaces they need because we can’t envisage. We see it here with all the projects submitted for awards at Year in Infrastructure. The way our user stretch the software and push it beyond the limits of what we potentially perceive and do some incredible things with it. To us the key success to the organisation is providing an open platform that also allows people to do the core work but also push beyond and do more.


Q.6. All global companies have manpower constraints, and the projects are going big. For a developing country like India, which is making huge investments, what, in your opinion, can be the best strategy for using the Bentley software and technology for several sectors the company is providing its services to be used by a common group that somewhat lacks that level of technical know-how. Any development by the company in this segment?


Mr. Ian Rosam: Fundamentally, ease of use, training material,  general accessibility and mobility with the resources are the keys. You must be able to resource from whichever region you belong to; breaking down those country-level barriers and providing accessibility to skills is fundamental. That’s something we’re trying to facilitate with our training material, improvements to software and with the likes of Projectwise, making data accessible. It does allow inter-country work to be able to redeploy and resource on projects internationally. We’ve seen great examples in the projects submitted here for Year in Infrastructure of work undertaken entirely remotely, and it’s been encouraging to see companies based in Italy, or Austin Texas never even going on the site.

The concept of never setting foot on site is something we see more with the availability of Reality Modelling with Context Capture. The technology to capture the site and provide remote access to the data at high-level of detail and reality facilitates detail design remotely; it makes things better and more convenient. This is an improvement we have developed, making things easier for all walks of society. Possibly the challenge you face with remote design is local standard knowledge when you’re redeploying workforce in another country; it’s that local standards knowledge and compatibility which becomes necessary in being a success.


Mr. Narendra Shah:  Thank you very much for your precious time and one-to-one interaction.



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