Cloud is a hot topic these days. No, I’m not going to talk about True vs. False cloud and Mark Benioff appearance on Oracle Open World. I want talk about another place where “the cloud” world can become a potential game changer – Autodesk. Two weeks ago Autodesk announced their expanded cloud services plan. By doing that, Autodesk put a very bold statement behind the future of CAD and design tools on the cloud.
Cloud and Engineering Software
People having different opinions about what Autodesk cloud means for users. I can summarize them in three separate trends – 1/ cloud change the way we design stuff; 2/ it is all about licensing; 3/ don’t worry, the “business as usual” anyway.
Navigate your browser to Josh Mings’ SolidSmack post How Autodesk plan to consolidate CAD (and you) on the cloud? Josh is clearly Gen-Y representative in my eyes. His view on cloud is as a logical next step in the evolution of computer systems. I like how Josh offsets the conversation from “accessing data” to “access the capability for design”. I think, this is the key – data is important, but data is just a facilitator. The real goal is to change the way people can use design tools. This is my favorite passage from SolidSmack blog:
The worst Autodesk or any software developer can do is think it’s all about accessing data anywhere. The best they can do is think about allowing people to design more freely. Sound the same? Well, it’s not. Access is nice, but being able to decide where and how to access data, programs, settings is more important. ‘Access’ can easily be limited by thinking that web-based software makes it more accessible. This goes beyond bandwidth, always on, or offsite computing power. It’s ultimately about the choice that the user has and how he’s able to use your software.
Another post that caught my attention was Dezignstuff by Matt Lombard. Navigate to Autodesk heads to the cloud post. Matt quoting Brad Holtz in the beginning by stating – “it is all about getting users to maintenance”. The point Matt is trying to make in his blog is related to the fact companies will try to use cloud to ask customers to pay more and more for software and bug fixing. I recommend you to read a long list of comments to this blog article as a good reference about what people think with regards to licensing and cloud.
The last post I want to mention is Autodesk Cloud- don’t panic, business as usual by Steve Johnson of cadnauseam. As I can read Steve, he sees the cloud as something that happens on “another planet”. From his standpoint the cloud products are peripherals, Autodesk is trying “cloud water” to understand how to make money there. At the same time, core products from Autodesk remain unchanged. So, all it means -“business as usual”. Here is the quote from his post:
Like the vast majority of Autodesk customers, I will just carry on using conventional software in that old-fashioned 20th century way that just happens to work very well. Autodesk will go on providing its software in that way, because that’s what most customers will want for at least a while yet, and Autodesk can’t survive on wisps of Cloudy revenue. Move along, people, nothing to see here.
Autodesk Cloud: Learning from SolidWorks Mistakes?
You cannot think about what Autodesk is doing without checking out SolidWorks. As you can read, lots of comments about Autodesk cloud are crossed with remarks about SolidWorks cloud announcement almost two years ago on SWW 2010. Was it the cloud false start for SolidWorks? SolidWorks provided mixed messages about cloud the cloud. It is true that DS SolidWorks came lately with n!Fuze product as part of overall Dassault V6 cloud appearance. To see it in balance, we need to wait and watch Autodesk AU 2011 announcements as well as coming SolidWorks World 2012.
What is my conclusion? As Mark Benioff said yesterday – “You cannot stop the cloud. The cloud must go on“. The power of cloud solutions cannot be diminished these days. What will be the right pathway for CAD companies to the cloud? This is the question Autodesk, SolidWorks and other companies need to answer. We are going to discover very soon. Just my thoughts.
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