"The reason we stuck our neck out two years ago around social, mobile, and cloud is not for the sake of the platform," Bass told the audience, "but for what it can do for customers. It brings about things we weren't able to do before."
The cloud's infinitely scalable resources are particularly well-suited for simulation, and for collaboration, and Autodesk has cloud-based services that support both, Bass said. Its ForceEffect simulation tool and rendering cloud service, for example, can perform analysis that was previously only able to run on workstation-class platforms. Autodesk's relatively new PLM 360, a built-from-the-ground-up cloud-based PLM application, facilitates collaboration via the sharing of lighter-weight product data with people inside and outside of engineering, while Vault, its Product Data Management repository for storing product IP, remains a traditional behind-the-firewall application.
Along with cloud services as a major headliner of its new 2013 Software portfolio, Autodesk talked up a number of other enhancements. Among them: one-click workflows help customers seamlessly navigate the engineering design process, including cloud-based services for simulations, while the Product Design Launchpad lets users switch between applications, depending on what they are trying to accomplish.
Despite the plethora of new features and performance enhancements, the main attraction was simply the cloud. "We see the cloud as the platform to get design and creation technology in the hands of anyone, anywhere," said Amar Hanspal, Autodesk's senior vice president, Information Modeling and Platform Products group. "It's the next wave of democratization.
While we might question whether mobile and social media will gain much traction in CAD, cloud has to be a no-brainer. As the software becomes more sophisticated the ability to move files back and forth becomes increasingly difficult. So why move the files? Sharing files that have a single residency (in the cloud) makes a lot of sense.
Just wondering if Autodesk or others have options for various security models that their customers would use. While I don't doubt that they have taken steps to make sure access is secure, I've been surprised by the number of companies that have taken things well beyond usual "remote" authenticatons, such as the inability to even access the company's data without software installed on a PC that was solely issued by the company (i.e., no working form home on your own hardware, even).
Security would be the major issue on several levels. I worked at one place that tightly controlled all Internet activity and I can see how this would be a major problem for them, as well as the bandwidth needed. There would be concerns about how well the company's IP is backed up, how backups can be accessed, how controlled the access to the IP is, what happens when an employee leaves the company, how to control file sharing with others. This one would be tough to do in the cloud, but it sure is tempting to push all that horsepower off onto somebody else's computer.
The security aspect has been discussed already, so let's cover cost now. I don't mean the cost of the Autodesk software, nor even of the tablet hardware.
I'm talking about the cost of the bandwidth. How fast are we going to burn through the 2gb limits that the wireless companies have most commonly imposed? Or, WORSE, if you exceed your monthly budget, your access is throttled?
At the same time Autodesk is pushing the cloud, it is also pushing 3D software like Inventor. 3D files are NOT as small as 2D AutoCAD files. Even some of the more complicated, many-layered building architecture 2D files (the ones with each service defined on a separate layer) can be 20mb or greater. It would not take long to hit that 2gb monthly limit.
We are not yet at the point where cloud computing is secure AND no longer cost-prohibitive.
AT&T even tries to double-dip its customers by charging for the data AND tethering (using your smartphone as a modem for your computer). No, until we see some better bandwidth options, I see problems with mobile cloud computing.
TJ: The way Autodesk is pursuing a cloud strategy appears to address some of your concerns about bandwidth. The main engineering repository or PDM (Product Data Management) platform is not being offered in the cloud. Autodesk Vault, as it's called, remains a traditional, behind-the-firewall type of application with the requisite security options and without reliance on Internet bandwidth for sharing files.
The cloud-based tools, PLM 360, and some of Autodesk's other cloud offerings leverage the cloud for collaboration and for heavy-duty, scalable compute power. CAD files that are shared via the cloud are lightweight versions of the full-blown model, so they can be visualized and marked up, but they are not the full geometric representation.
As for the different security options others raise, that I'm not sure about. Sorry.
Yes, Chuck, it's good to leave that saying behind. The other one hat comes up so often is that the file is too large so send by email. Even ftp sites now won't take large files, and Dropbox has limitations unless you pay a monthly fee. The cloud really is the answer to a lot of this.
The issue of bandwidth is certainly a good point to consider. And while small electrical circuit drawings are only a hundred K or so, a 3d rendered detail could be several Megs. Mow pass that through your smartphone. And if something can't wait, that is what an assistant is for, to copy things from the secure vault to the FTP site for the other party to grab it.
The problem with clouds is that they are just not very solid, and i all probability will never be very solid. And I am certain that data stored in a cloud will be hacked any day now, and that will be the start of some real excitement. Really, the entire cloud fad is ripe for some very unfortunate unintended consequences, which will probably look a lot like lost or corrupted data.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.