December 05, 2011
Autodesk, best known for its flagship design software AutoCAD, began migrating several of its popular simulation applications to the cloud last year. Last week, as part of Autodesk University, the company cemented its cloud focus with the introduction of its new cloud-based PLM (product lifecycle management) offering called "Autodesk 360." The move to the cloud is reflective of the company's physical growth. This year Autodesk significantly expanded its San Francisco office footprint to occupy 150,000 square feet. Financially, the software vendor has been exceeding analyst expectations, with profit up nearly 36 percent for the most recent quarter.
In preparing for the Autodesk University event, which took place in Las Vegas last week, the company's Chief Executive Officer Carl Bass spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle to discuss the company's strategy.
In the interview, Bass noted that "moving stuff to the cloud" is a "huge shift" for the company. "The cloud allows us to do two things for our customer," he explained. "Most design, engineering and creation processes involve collaboration, coordination and communication among people and the cloud is really great for that. The other thing is that most of what our customers do requires a lot of computing power."
Bass goes on to explain how cloud enables unprecedented design and testing opportunities at a reasonable cost. Every idea needs to be backed up with computer-testing, and each test moves towards an ideal finalized design, but the number of iterations that can be performed are limited by real-world constraints, namely time and money. High-end computers generally allow you to run one test faster, but the real magic comes after many iterations and that means scaling out your computer resources, one of the hallmarks of cloud computing.
"As opposed to just making a single iteration go faster," says Bass, "I can now explore this space and get answers to my questions in a reasonable amount of time. I can do 1,000 questions in the 15 minutes it used to take to get one answer."
The article also comments on how Autodesk has been opening up its 3D design tools to hobbyists and small manufacturers. This, along with other trends, such as the rise of commodity 3D printers, are helping make small-scale manufacturing processes economically-viable again. Cloud computing also supports this flattening of the supply chain by making high-level compute resources available on-demand, on an as-needed basis. The maker movement, economic realities, support for small-scale manufacturing and the availability of service-based computational and storage resources (i.e., the cloud) are all working together to change the manufacturing landscape.
Full story at San Francisco Chronicle
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