Today, the software provider Bentley Systems released a long-awaited, new version of its entire suite of infrastructure analysis and design products, now dubbed V8i.

The release is the culmination of 15 years of acquisitions, integration and development, according to Greg Bentley, CEO. Code-named “Athens” through the many years of planning, the company says V8i represents a $1 billion, internally-financed investment that positions it to take advantage of an anticipated surge of public and public/private infrastructure work. Infrastructure development and rehabilitation is about the only bright spot on the economic horizon, so Bentley feels this is an opportune time to launch.

The emphasis of V8i is on collaborative tools for creating, maintaining, and operating infrastructure. Maintaining data interoperability throughout all of the products—and there are dozens—is a key feature, the company says. Another is an emphasis on streamlining information management to optimize global collaboration. When project participants coordinate their work, they need only to exchange updated data rather than complete files. Project model information files have become so huge in the age of virtual design and construction that the mere transmission of them between project participants has become a significant impediment to collaboration.

Data in the project files also is structured according to xml schema, which tags each element according to its identity, but does not attempt to predict its ultimate use. That means data can be more easily flowed to operations products of the future, enhancing the potential of V8i to inform lifecycle management, whatever the downstream needs turn out to be.

An agreement last July between Bentley and its prime competitor, Autodesk, to exchange and embed data translation and integration tools with their respective software offerings, is expected to further enhance the inter-collaborative value of the products of both companies, according to Bhupinder Singh, Bentley senior vice president. However, the changes anticipated are still in development and will not be available in the initial release of the V8i product line.