Can your design work be done in the cloud? Of course it can! Having all your data in one place, instead of spread around on individual hard drives, provides much greater security and content protection. It also gives you the ability to make better design decisions by offering consistent access to all the data available.
The cloud enables secure access to designs for any user, anywhere, at any time, on any device -- a huge boost to productivity and collaboration.
At Autodesk University 2012, Dell led the discussion regarding the five cloud delivery models, and respective benefits of each. If you missed the event, here is a synopsis of the options for utilizing the cloud. Decide which model will help your design workflow take advantage of the cloud.
Presentation, also known as server-based computing, is a traditional model where a single server-based application supports many users. Itís low cost, efficient, and great for task worker computing.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is recommended for those who require access to a variety of applications. The software is also centralized, but the key difference here is that VDI supports a full-blown virtual operating system (usually Windows) with a wide variety of applications. VDI can be ideal for a broad range of users, including knowledge workers, designers, and engineers.
In the Cloud Workstation model, the processing takes place on the workstation rather than the server. However, the operating system (OS), applications, and data are all centralized. Itís like a workstation with the hard drive back in the datacenter. The server stores a single copy of the OS and application, along with all the user data. The user will see an exact copy of a traditional workstation experience with all writes and saves directed to the secure server.
The Shared model uses a server-class PC as the shared system and is suited for very small businesses or classroom settings. Itís relatively low cost, easy to install, and ideal for training environments.
The web model is the one which many organizations are moving their applications to over time. But most apps arenít currently written in modern web languages. It shifts the applications to servers in the cloud and uses a variety of clients to access the target apps and content.
These models, especially VDI and Cloud Workstation, are the future for design work. However, for heavy CAD/CAM work, desktop or rack-mounted workstations provide enhanced performance. Dellís rack-based PCoIP workstation solution, the Dell Precision R5500, with powerful Intel® Xeon® processors, is a virtualized 2U rack workstation that supports up to two concurrent professional graphics users, running high-end 3D professional applications on one workstation, from virtually anywhere.
Where are you in the journey to the cloud?
Intel, the Intel logo, Xeon, and Xeon Inside are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation in the US and/or other countries.
I may be alone here, but I'm guessing that I'm not. I have a fear that my design could be compromised and/or stolen if I leave it in the cloud. What measures are you taking to ensure the safety of my design? I know it's an old argument, but it's still valid.
I'm becoming more and more a fan of the "cloud" every day. I use it routinely (Dropbox) to work on projects at home and work. I save my work, go home, and there it is. I save a file and a colleague can open it almost instantly on his machine. However, just yesterday I was working with another colleague (that lives on the East Coast in a small town) and said "How's your internet connection?" to which he replied "Terrible, it's a pain just checking my email, at work and home". In this case the entire "cloud" becomes moot. So what if it's convenient if you can't transfer the data? How does a fast local machine help in this instance? This will be the biggest problem with all cloud services; if you can't transfer data the entire thing falls apart. The biggest proponents of the technology have very fast connections or even T1 and greater services available. This is not isolated either; there are many reports of how the ISP services still haven't rolled out high speed equipment to more rural areas (despite denying that they do this) and charge the same fees for "high speed". I know of one person that had their ISP confirm the system was bad; their response was to finally simply stop going out to his location. Until everyone has high speed connections, all the fancy, fast machines will mean absolutely nothing "in the cloud".
That's a major issue. I was at a company that simply kept all parts on the server and the amount of traffic required as every single screw (we even had one guy that drew threads on screws) and washer was pulled into a design brought the company's server to its knees. I can't imagine having a staff of engineers doing the same damage to a web gateway.
Theft-it may be easier for those who are very tech saavy to steal ideas but that happens in the analogue world today. I learned years ago to 'give it away', so to speak. Thieves will always look for opportunity to steal ideas but good designers will always create more ideas.
Accessibility-one unfortunate reality that is rarely addressed is accessibility. Connecting securely to the internet is expensive for most and even unrealistic for some. Many small companies or even individuals struggle with paying for a fast and reliable connection. If everything is in the cloud, you have to stay connected.
Hi all - love all the great comments here! Security is absolutely an ongoing challenge and concern, and an area that varies quite a bit between providers. Our public cloud offerings like vCloud are designed with security at the forefront and are secured using Secureworks and monitored 24x7.
Something else to consider is that when data is stored on the device, there is risk around the device itself being lost or stolen, and then the data may be at risk if not well protected. Many customers (certainly not all, as these comments attest to!) are coming to the conclusion that the overall risk profile is lower with cloud models.
On another blog we just are talking about "the connection." My present access does slow at times, occasionally getting down to perhaps 330 Baud. NOT KBaud, just Baud. Just a bit faster than I type. So a 22K one page letter takes a while, a 2 page PDF takes minutes, and even small executable files take a LONNNGG time. So what good is a slow connection? How slow is a slow cloud?
With the descriptions of the different kinds of "cloud", the one common item is the connection. Running AutoCad from a local server was bad, I can't imagine how very bad running a more powerful cad program over a longer link would be.
As for security, backing up to offsite backup servers every night is a bout as safe from loss as data can be, while keeping the servers behind three physically locked levels of security is insurance against physical theft, and a really good firewall, plus file encryption, is a fair protection against hacking the data. But the most secure system that I am aware of keeps all of the vital data on a non-internet-connected machine. Data that must be sent out is copied to a memory stick and then sent from a connected computer. NO, it is not very convenient, but it is more secure.
I wanted to make you aware of (and hopefully get DesignNews to publicize) an important not-for-profit (volunteer) vendor-neutral activity that should be of interest to your readers. I've joined the "HPC (Ueber-Cloud) Experiment" as a Mentor/Supervisor of multiple teams and also to help publicize and grow this project investigating the actual processes and obstacle for engineers who currently do desktop/workstation CAE simulation (FEA, CFD) and have a need to "scale up" to occasional/heavy HPC/Cloud-based compute power for larger problems and faster turn-around. The details of the project so far (it started last Summer and is now in Round 2) can be read at these two links:
We are particularly interested in reaching out to more workstation/desktop-level simulation engineers (end users) to take part in Round 3. I am hoping that DesignNews can mention this effort and provide a link to one/both of the above e-articles. Wolfgang Gentzsch, an acknowledged global expert on grid/cloud computing and co-founder of the HPC Experiment, is also interested in writing a more detailed article for DesignNews on the purpose and results, so far, of the Experiment.
Please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Wolfgang directly (email@example.com) for more details.
NadineJ, I agree. Open source is the way to go for designs that have no profit margin associated with them and placing them on Cloud servers will not be a concern. I would still use traditional methods of backup data storage devices such as harddrives and thumbdrives to ensure I will always have a copy of my designs. Also, IP theft can happen within the IT corporate Cloud server organization just as easily from a hacker on the outside. Be responsible and backup your own data.
Absolutely, mrdon! Maybe I'm paranoid, but I like keeping a copy of my backups under my exclusive control. That way if anything happens from a natural disaster to a business going under or servers being hacked, I don't lose my stuff.
The next time you're churning through simulation models, manipulating 3D designs in real-time, or rendering a beautiful photo-realistic image, take a moment to think about all the work that goes on behind the scenes and be glad you don't have to worry about it.
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