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Autodesk Goes “All-In” to the Cloud Environment

Autodesk has created a suite of products purpose built to leverage the power of the cloud.  This all-in approach is neither a migration of existing products nor a strategy.  But unlike its closest competitors, it is available now!

Autodesk sees the cloud as a big shift, similar to the shift from DOS to Windows.  Products that were ported over to Windows suffered.  Those that were purpose built for Windows thrived.  The same goes for the companies behind those products.  The companies that waited for Windows to become main stream before they shifted their products to the Windows environment were too late to the starting line.  Many of those companies did not survive in the new business climate.  Learning from history, Autodesk is positioned to take advantage of the new main stream environment that the cloud provides.

First to the Starting Gates
Autodesk is first to the cloud in many respects, especially with its 360 set of products.

Autodesk 360 products


Designing a brand new environment for the user that interacts with the vast nature of the cloud and potential devices, the user interface, and the actual function that needs to be performed is no easy task.  Getting there first means that Autodesk has dedicated itself to this future environment.  And, continuous expansion of functions and product offering of Autodesk's cloud applications embodies the dedication to the big shift.  I'm certain Autodesk has many more firsts in store.  But first, let's take a look at what Autodesk already has available.

Counting Cards
Simulation is probably the most obvious environment to reap the benefits of the cloud, and the most cost effective, too.  Simulation takes a lot of clock cycles.  And when that specialized workstation is not running simulations, those clock cycles are wasted, costing your company money.

Autodesk Sim 360 Turbo


The cloud, on the other hand, is called infinite compute because each user, or each simulation, is not limited to the physical hardware owned by their organization.  A simulation could be run on the cloud using one processor or 100 processors, maybe more.  Even companies that can afford to invest in high performance clusters (HPC) still can't match the potential of the cloud, not to mention the overhead associated with managing an HPC or multiple discrete workstations.  These costs are rolled up in the cost of the cloud service.  No additional IT support is necessary.

Simulating on the cloud has been so successful, as a matter of fact, that industry is already trending a change in the design process.  Analysts are able to increase the number of iterations because what used to take hours on a workstation only takes minutes on the cloud.  That allows analysts to perform more what-if scenarios which, in turn, allows them to better define the envelope of performance of a product.  Analysts are less likely to stop analyzing a problem when they find the one successful run because they have the time to experiment with other case studies and pick the optimum design.

Rendering is another area where the cloud outshines a workstation.  Cloud processes can be monitored and additional processes automatically started based on current load.  If the load is light, for example, rather than wasting CPU cycles, the rendering engine can be started.  In the background, without the user even knowing, their design is being rendered with no loss in performance.  Then, when the user decides to actually render an image, the render is nearly complete.  Therefore, not only does the cloud have more physical resources to apply to a problem making it happen faster, but those resources can be run in the background to anticipate user requirements and make the entire process faster.

Win, Show, or Place
Design teams, customers, suppliers, and the entire supply chain benefit from the cloud.  Coordinating video conferences, web meetings, or emailing files is very time dependent.  Meeting attendees all have to be available at the same time – difficult for international relationships.  Or, multiple copies of a file are made and therefore no one knows if they have the latest version.

But, if that data existed on the cloud, anyone can be shown the latest version no matter what place they are in and everyone is a winner.  The design team is always looking at the same data, regardless of the time of day or location around the world.

Ocean's 360
Cloud Padlock

Of course there is always the perception of security of the cloud.  Whether that security be in the form of ITAR or EAR restrictions, intellectual property theft, or general hacking.  But, as cloud services become more popular, so does the understanding of cloud security.  Does your company have the IT staff available to spend all day monitoring and updating the firewall?  Most cloud vendors do.  Eventually, it is likely that cloud servers will be more secure than private servers if they are not already.

For those companies where ITAR is a big issue (because verifying that cloud services are hosted on national soil isn't always possible), Autodesk provides a "local save" option for their 360 suite of products.  Doing so takes more time, though, because more data has to be transferred over the internet.  (This, by the way, also makes it more susceptible to hijacking.)

File backup and restoration is another key data security issue.  Although server operating systems do have some versioning available to manage "old revisions" of files within the file system, doing so drastically increases the amount of data on the server.  Disk space may be cheap, but servers only have so many ports to hook up another hard drive.  Unless you want your IT staff to constantly monitor and virtualize all drives to create your own internal infinite storage cloud, then the external cloud is a better solution.

During one conference I attended, I heard of a company that spends 32 hours on a nightly backup.  How can a company guarantee complete backups when they have so much data that the daily backup takes more than a day to complete?  They can't, but the cloud can.  And Autodesk has made it so that all versions are saved.  Users can easily go back to old versions.  The cloud provider manages data backup, easing the burden on the internal IT staff.

Seven Come Eleven
When the shooter wins, everyone wins.  When Autodesk rolls a winner, all of its customers do as well.  Granted, there are always those who bet against the table.  Those people may never be ready for the cloud.  But, there are other customers who are absolutely ready to go all-in with Autodesk and are reaping the benefits of having taken the initial steps.

The first step is getting an Autodesk 360 account and downloading and installing the desired applications.  Autodesk PLM 360 is a browser-only application, but the other products install a lightweight desktop application.  Installation is quick, much quicker than a desktop application.  For example, Fusion 360 takes approximately 3 minutes to install while Inventor can take up to 6 hours.

Updates are managed for you.  No longer do service packs have to be rolled out to the entire user base in order to guarantee that every user is on the same version.  Cloud updates are performed automatically.

Data compatibility is not an issue.  Every user is automatically on the same version.  Users don't have to worry that one of their customers hasn't updated yet but they have, therefore they customer can no longer read their data.  Interoperability between applications is also a non-issue.  When the CAD application is updated, it still works with the PLM application.  Users don't have to delay one software upgrade because they need to wait for another software application to become compatible with the new version.  (Technical note: Autodesk makes sure its applications are always data compatible, not run compatible.  That is why the applications are still separate and not rolled into one Massive 360 application.  The applications only have to read compatible versions of data, not integrate within other compatible versions of software.)

And the desktop issues of Long Term Archiving and Retrieval (LOTAR) go away with cloud-based applications like those from Autodesk.  For example, Fusion 360 has a translation engine in it that allows it to work with any data type.  Because Fusion is not history based, it doesn't require the overhead of other modelers to make use of standard LOTAR data types such as STEP.  In Fusion 360, STEP is not a "dumb" model.

Letting it Ride
One final thought.  Just because Autodesk got to the starting line first doesn't mean it assumes it'll reach the finish line first, but they are striving to get there.  Autodesk is continuously working on improving its products and expanding their functionality.  Many of these improvements are designed to be transparent to the user.

No longer does the release version matter.  Since its inception, PLM 360 has issued 140 updates.  Has the user been aware of these?  Probably not all of them.  Other cloud releases are updated on a weekly basis.  These micro releases often go unnoticed by the user but continually improve performance or add functionality.

Link: http://www.engineering.com/DesignSoftware/DesignSoftwareArticles/ArticleID/6733/Autodesk-Goes-All-In-to-the-Cloud-Environment.aspx

About Autodesk
Autodesk helps people imagine, design and create a better world. Everyone—from design professionals, engineers and architects to digital artists, students and hobbyists—uses Autodesk software to unlock their creativity and solve important challenges. For more information visit autodesk.com

For more details you may contact:
AutoCAD - Edmond Chiang |  03-7803 4600  |  edmond.chiang@acapacific.com.my
Media & Entertainment - Ashleigh Soh |  03-7803 4600  |  ashleigh.soh@acapacific.com.my



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