TJ: You raise probably the most important point about the limitations of putting design tools in the cloud. That's why most of the new cloud offerings offload heavy-duty processing tasks like simulation to the cloud and return results when completed. Otherwise, most of the cloud-based tools we're seeing are more design review and sharing applications, not full-blown CAD modeling.
Until vendors come up with new technology that addresses some of these bandwidth issues, there are some obvious constraints as to what can be effectively done in the cloud.
Cloud (network, remote, whatever the buzzword is today) collaboration ignores one key point: bandwidth.
3D modeling software such as Inventor or Solidworks suck bandwidth like there is no tomorrow. This is fine for an internal network at gigabit speeds (we upgraded the engineering network to deal with this). Take the data outside the building, and now the size of the pipeline from the cloud to your desktop becomes the bottleneck.
I'm writing this from a hotel that has a very slow "broadband" connection. I'd HATE to try to do some collaborative design work while in the field.
I suppose one could argue that I should have a dedicated broadband connection for my computer. Do you really want to have two cell phone bills (one for your phone one for your computer)? Even if I tether my phone, I'm still paying an extra charge for the tethering service to use the bandwidth on the phone I've already purchased. The companies also have capacity limits (2gb a month), and that's not nearly enough for 3D cloud collaboration.
I agree with you that it is a bit unsure how all this will work. Clearly there should be some transition from a regular subscription to cloud. My guess that some sections will be available to all users and the some protected areas for special services ar options.
I'm not sure serving up their software on the cloud changes users' ability (or inability) to transfer licenses. As I understand it, some of the cloud services will be included free of charge as part of a user's subscription license. So you log on to the cloud site with your email and password (or some sort of governing license ID) and you get access to the cloud offerings that correspond to your license. For the services that aren't bundled, Autodesk must offer some sort of way to pay by the pound.
Autodesk built up a Web-based subscription services platform a while back to facilitate delivering software updates over the Web. I'm assuming a lot of the user identification and online licensing capabilities used for its cloud offering stem from that development.
I wonder how they'll manage access. Autodesk has been very strict about controlling licenses/seats, as far as not allowing resale and transfer of its products. I understand why; they have a high-value product. I'm simply wonder what impact if any this might have on the user experience of its cloud products and thus what customer reactions might be.
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