I am publishing this due to a lack of vendor communication regarding this topic. If it does not directly apply to you, please get it into the hands of the appropriate person.

Consider this a Public Service Announcement that represents the viewpoint of Mark S. Ditko of Zen Engineering, regarding continued use of InRoads SS2. What follows is based on my experience, recent dialogs with the user-base, and relationships with many, many users in the Public and Private Civil Engineering Industry, as well as being involved in numerous discussions with Bentley Systems spanning many months.

I know this rant will likely come across as harshly critical due to the sympathetic frustration that I feel for the user-base, and the lack of answers emanating from Bentley. With that said, I do not attest to know or understand all of the moving parts that are involved here, especially as to what or who is driving Bentley’s actions, but I can judge this situation by the ‘disconnect’ that I am witnessing between the user-base and the vendor.

I also understand that this rant does not apply to 100% of the user-base, as some are in a better position than others; however it is my assessment that the percentage of prepared ‘early adopters’ is significantly smaller than the audience that this is written for.

Freely forward this to anyone that you feel should have it. If anyone wants to personally speak to me about this, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and schedule a time to chat.

The Situation:

InRoads SS2 is the dominant, and most stable version of InRoads currently being used by both the Public and Private Civil Engineering sectors, and it needs to be operational for at least the next several years. Yet, Bentley is planning to alter the current licensing scheme making it impossible to operate in ‘business as usual’. And currently (as of early July 2020) Bentley does not have any definitive answers as to the details behind the continuing usage of InRoads SS2; however, their intent is clear.

Notice Given:

This is the extent of the notice that I received on the 23rd of June, 2020:

Hi Mark,

As of January 1, 2021, your Bentley V8i* desktop application support and licensing services will expire.

Are you ready?

If you have any questions regarding this email please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

*(pre-SELECTseries 10)

Main User-centric Issues in Play:

  • At some agencies, all (or the vast majority of) projects are currently still being built on InRoads SS2. These projects have been in the design phase for varying amounts of time and can go for several years through construction and change orders. During that time, InRoads SS2 is needed to either complete these projects in design or may be required to make ongoing changes throughout the life of the project as it moves through the construction stage.
  • At this time some agencies have not even begun working on their OpenRoads Standards and are not yet prepared to start new projects on ORD, let alone migrate current SS2 projects to OpenRoads. Again, this reinforces the reality that InRoads SS2 will be needed for several more years at a minimum.
  • The DOTs and larger agencies are clearly a strong driving force behind the private consultant community’s migration to OpenRoads, and to a degree are “at the mercy” of the DOTs rollout schedule, technical & administrative readiness, and internal adoption of OpenRoads.
  • Migration of InRoads SS2 projects to OpenRoads is not automatic, and beyond a certain point in the development of the project data on SS2, can be time consuming and will not come without schedule and cost implications. And further, if brand new OpenRoads standards are developed, then that InRoads SS2 project data migration process has an even higher impact associated with it.
  • Training is also a necessity before OpenRoads is rolled out. If this is not taken into account, you can be assured that the learning curve will further impact the project schedule and budget.
  • Cost-wise, everyone that had InRoads SS2 were ‘upgraded’ to OpenRoads in 2017 and charged more for that license upgrade, whether they were actually using OpenRoads or not. This cost increase included licensing for the new OpenRoads software as well as for all ‘legacy’ products, allowing users to continue using InRoads SS2. (Legacy products refer to all past versions of InRoads or GEOPAK or MX, including SS2)
  • Moving to SS4 (SS10) from SS2 is not recommended. The amount of effort that it would take to do that would be better invested in moving to OpenRoads. (This has even by mentioned by Bentley.) If anyone is interested in discussing this please contact me.
  • The Public or Private sectors should not have to bear the burden of schedule or financial impacts to their projects due to Bentley’s decisions regarding the SS2 product line, its maintenance or licensing system.
  • The transition to OpenRoads should not and cannot be done hurriedly.
  • This InRoads to OpenRoads transition is a very dramatic one. I have used InRoads since the first version was released in 1989, and have experienced, firsthand, every InRoads software evolution. This jump to OpenRoads is the most significant change I have ever experienced by far.
  • I’ve said this in my Zen Dude blog article OpenRoads Designer CE Planning found here: http://thezendude.com/blogs/82-ord-ce-planning.html This “quantum leap in software technology warrants a review of your existing workflows”. And rightfully, I see that some are taking advantage of this opportunity. This makes the transition from InRoads SS2 to OpenRoads even more significant, and warrants the extra time involved.

FYI – The Software Timeline:

InRoads V8i

  • February 2010, Initial Release
  • May 2013, Last “SS2” Release

InRoads SS3 -> SS4, Aka FrankenRoads

  • 2013 -> 2016, The technology “Experimental Age” moving toward OpenRoads

OpenRoads

  • November 2015, Bentley officially announces the future OpenRoads software replacement for InRoads, GEOPAK and MX
  • April 2017, OpenRoads first release (but did not include Survey)
  • December 2017, Initial OpenRoads Survey Release
  • May 2020, Latest OpenRoads Release (this is the 12th release of OpenRoads)
  • Another release is due out any time now

The Bentley Stance… and a Rebuttal:

  • Bentley is observably currently working with the DOT’s regarding SS2 licensing.
    • ZEN: But rarely have I heard any mention regarding how their negotiated licensing agreements and arrangements with the DOT’s will ripple down to the consultants.
  • Bentley has stated that “the DOT’s are critical to Bentley moving forward”.
    • ZEN: Actually, all InRoads users are critical, including those in the private sector, and in some cases even more so relative to some projects.
  • It is my understanding that the current Bentley Select Server mechanism used to manage InRoads SS2 licensing is being ‘retired’. Whether that is due to antiquated and retired Operating System technology, or an internal Bentley decision not to apply resources to a solution is unknown to me at this time.
    • ZEN: Regardless as to the ‘why’, Bentley is not releasing any satisfactory information as to how InRoads SS2 users (Public and Private) will continue to run the software, uninterrupted, beyond the end of 2020.
  • Bentley wants the Select Server gone and have stated that they “are trying to find a solution that works for the DOTs …. And Bentley.”
  • Bentley’s main ‘solution’ to Bentley’s license maintenance problem is to convert all InRoads SS2 projects to OpenRoads
    • ZEN: This is not feasible for so many reasons, namely:
      • Project cost impacts – It will take $ to move projects to OpenRoads
      • Project schedule impacts – It will take time to move projects
      • Internal manpower – It will take internal resources to move projects
      • Lack of a functionally tested and vetted OpenRoads configuration
      • Lack of trained staff – It takes time and money to train users
      • A proven reproducible SS2 to OpenRoads migration processes
      • There will be many other technical, administrative and contractual tasks that need to be done in order to migrate ongoing projects to OpenRoads
      • All to be done before December 2020 in our current lock-down condition is extremely unrealistic
  • Another “solution” being discussed by Bentley is to ‘Node Lock’ or ‘Machine Register’ an InRoads SS2 license to a specific computer. This is done by taking one of the available licenses and assigning that license to a specific computer. This activity removes that license from the available pool of licenses, and permanently ‘checks it out’ to that computer. If a company had 5 InRoads licenses, they would choose which specific computers would need InRoads SS2 and then lock a license to that computer and reduce their available licenses by that amount.
    • ZEN: This ‘Node Lock’ or ‘Machine Register’ licensing model has been mentioned as the alternative to Bentley’s intent to drop their Select Server system that is currently handling the licensing for SS2. This was put out in an email notice on December 31st, 2019; however, to date, no actual details of this process have been presented as to how this will be accomplished or implemented.
    • ZEN: The major problem with this occurs with smaller firms (or anyone that has more users than licenses) that pool, say, 10 licenses between 20 users. After Node Locking 5 InRoads SS2 licenses to 5 specific computers, there are only 5 licenses left in the pool to run OpenRoads. Additionally, InRoads SS2 can only be run on those 5 node locked machines. And even though there are still 5 available licenses, they cannot be used to run InRoads SS2. Now, if a user starts a new project (probably on OpenRoads) but also has a machine that has an SS2 Machine Lock on it, he is in essence tying up two licenses – the OpenRoads license that he’s using to work on his new project, and the InRoads SS2 license that is machine locked to his computer that cannot be used anywhere else. This is an unworkable system. But it gets worse.
  • The buzz on the street is that Bentley intends to charge ‘more’ to ‘allow’ users to run SS2 under this machine lock scenario. Regarding this, I was sent this statement (source not identified): “If they want to continue using the MicroStation-InRoads SS2 combination using a node-locked license there will be an extra charge for each seat, about $3,500 (depending on discounts).”
    • ZEN: The obvious issue here is that in 2017 everyone was automatically upgraded to OpenRoads with an increase in invoicing cost from Bentley. This increase came with the agreement that all legacy products could be run with that upgraded license, which included InRoads SS2. And now Bentley is discussing charging even more to run a less expensive product that should be covered under the earlier increased cost of OpenRoads. And in most cases since 2017, the more expensive OpenRoads product was not even being used. So, in essence, InRoads SS2 has been being run by everyone since 2017 at an increased cost, and now the intent is to increase it even further as a ‘courtesy’ to ‘allow’ it to continue to be used.
    • ZEN: Additionally, those that have purchased InRoads SS2, and have a perpetual license, may have to be charged extra to continue to use it; however this is unknown since Bentley has not issued any definitive statements regarding this.
  • Bentley has stated “We are really listening, finally ”.
    • ZEN: From my observation, not only are they not “really listening”, but they are not even talking to the broad user-base. All I see is their continued drive forward pushing their own agenda with the DOT’s in mind and not the smaller consulting firms who will be hit the hardest by this.

The Flaws:

  1. SS3 / SS4
    1. Bentley believed that InRoads SS2 users should have migrated from SS2 to SS3 and then to SS4 as these experimental versions were being released.
    2. These experimental versions were only used by the ‘early adopters’ not the broad user-base that were focused on the usual daily demands.
    3. These experimental versions were not appropriate for active / live projects due to their convoluted workflows, replicated ‘synchronized’ InRoads / OpenRoads project data, and piecemeal toolsets. Bentley’s own OpenRoads Community is saturated with posts of problems from users attempting to work on and complete active projects in SS3 and SS4. I know, I’ve read ever one of those posts along with the responses.
    4. SS3 and SS4 were always a dead-end road forever destined to be replaced by OpenRoads
  2. SS2 vs OpenRoads
    1. InRoads SS2, was the culmination of many years of software development and practical use and had become a solid piece of software capable of doing most everything that was needed.
    2. An “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” attitude was being used by most people when it came to the OpenRoads migration
    3. By 2017, most everyone was trained in InRoads SS2, or could be easily trained and supported by a knowledgeable support structure that exists
    4. It has been said by others that the larger government agencies are like steering a battleship. It takes a long time to turn it another direction. And so it is with OpenRoads. And we’re still just starting that turn.
    5. It wasn’t until just two years ago, in the Summer of 2018, that OpenRoads was released with mostly complete Survey functionality, and only 6 months ago in January 2020 where much needed CAD Management functionality was added.
    6. OpenRoads has only very recently reached a stage where it has evolved into a more usable package. And yet it still has its outstanding Service Requests and needed improvements.
    7. The true era of OpenRoads has just begun.

What’s Needed:

InRoads SS2 needs to run for the next several years without additional cost, and without interrupting or affecting any potential ORD usage or licensing.

More specifically:

  • The Public and Private sectors need to use InRoads SS2 beyond 2020
  • SS10 is not a solution unless their environment is currently running and configured for SS4
  • SS2 needs to run for at least the next 5 years to accommodate active projects nearing completion as well as ongoing construction projects
  • There should be no additional financial impact on the Public or Private sector for using InRoads SS2 beyond 2020 other than the current OpenRoads license fees
  • There cannot be a license usage impact for anyone choosing to use either SS2 or ORD and current licensing flexibility to use SS2 or ORD should be maintained as it currently exists today and in recent years.
  • Bentley needs to develop a solution that works for everyone, small and large government agencies and small and large private companies. Bentley should be addressing this issue globally with the entire user-base.

It is highly recommended that someone in your organization read and understand the Bentley EULA (End-User Licensing Agreement) and existing contract between your organization and Bentley with regards to SS2. The Terms and Conditions might require a ‘Contracts’ individual in order to properly understand and interpret it, but this needs to be done by someone. Any future agreements should only be considered after you understand your current agreement as a starting point.

These days, Bentley users are in a perfect storm so to speak. Windows Operating System changes, retiring Windows Server OS’s, Bentley’s technology race against Civil 3D, InRoads SS2 in such heavy broad use yet uncertified for Windows 10, OpenRoads being pushed as a replacement that carries such a heavy migration workload, and Bentley decision to start the SS2 doomsday clock ticking. Add to that the current state of the Country and World and you’ve got a cocktail that will set you on your arse.

Feel free to contact us as needed. We’re here for you.

Civilly yours,

- mark

Quotes

  • "No matter how far down the wrong road you’ve gone, turn back."

    – Turkish saying