Integrated Autodesk Product Platform on Cloud for Teams

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At this year’s Autodesk University, which was attended by 10,000 people, Autodesk made several announcements that make its software quite attractive for all sizes of manufacturers. Autodesk and its partners showcased several applications that address latest trends such as generative design, augmented and virtual reality, additive manufacturing, IoT and robotics. Its CEO Carl Bass, said “unless your team is collaborating well, you can’t even compete much less win”. Autodesk’s core strategy has been to democratize design software such that smaller companies with limited resources can use them to design and deliver latest high quality products. Subscription based cloud delivery fits right to serve Autodesk’s core strategy to make its software affordable and enable collaboration amongst teams. Going forward Autodesk will be stepping away from desktop applications and will deliver applications in cloud.

 forgeAutodesk is building a cloud portfolio for each industry that it says is complete, connected and on-demand. Its cloud based Fusion 360 and BIM 360 are built on the Forge developer platform which will now be available through a browser in addition to native mobile applications. Autodesk has expanded its Forge platform which currently has more than 4,000 apps to include Augmented reality and Virtual reality support.  Autodesk does not have commercial application for manufacturers as it relates to AR/VR and IoT , rather it has developed a more generic  platform to provide solutions that  can be implemented in manufacturing and AEC. Currently, Autodesk research has successfully developed projects that apply to AEC space that intermingle IoT and AR/VR such as measuring building performance while virtually walking through a building.

It should be noted that Autodesk is seriously working on the topic of machine learning as it applies to designing software and monitoring software usage. Autodesk Design Graph in A360 is an active step towards utilizing machines learning. Design Graph is a machine learning system from Autodesk that uses algorithms to extract large amounts of 3D design data. It then categorizes every component and design by classification and relationship, to create a living catalog that can provide results to changes and to provide guidance for design.

In conclusion, Autodesk message was loud and clear that it will develop and support software that helps teams collaborate, unlike desktop applications that it has delivered in the past. Its Forge platform in cloud best supports Autodesk’s strategy of democratizing software. One cannot deny the ground reality that most of its customer base that is SMB have not fully embraced Autodesk’s cloud based offerings. This is an opportunity and a challenge for Autodesk’s partners who do voice their eagerness to start working in cloud with Fusion platform. Autodesk strategy with cloud based Forge platform to focus on developing software that address latest trends of IoT, generative and immersive design removes the cost and accessibility barriers that manufacturers encounter irrespective of the size of their business or industry vertical.

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Conceptual Design Software Tools

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The importance of conceptual design cannot be ignored. In my experience, if a designer(s) skips the conceptual design phase, they end up modifying designs in the detail design phase to address even basic customer requirements such as look and feel of the  final object or a product. Such changes shift the focus from detailed design delaying the project completion and affecting final product quality.

With no clear industry segmentation of conceptual design software tools and CAD (computer aided design) software vendors claiming that their detailed design CAD software include required capabilities to address the needs of conceptual design phase; it can be really hard to navigate the list of digital design software vendors and select a conceptual design software tool.

Recently, I wrote an article for the CADALYST magazine on conceptual design software tools.

The article also includes a sampling of available Conceptual Design Tools –

Article in its entirety can be found – Look forward for your comments/discussions

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Traditional and Newer CAD Licensing Models

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Improvements in software delivery models especially via Cloud have made significant changes in the way content in consumed and priced. The product development industry is not immune to these changes but when it comes to CAD (computer aided design) software there are bigger barriers to delivery as well as consumption of cloud based CAD software. My intent is not to discuss the barriers and ways to overcome those in this write-up, but to layout the existing and new changes that have come about in the delivery and licensing of CAD, in the light of the cost savings offered by  Cloud.

Traditionally there have been two types of licenses based on duration – Perpetual (indefinite use of license once bought) and Annual (limited use for one year duration). Other licensing models include: –

    • Standalone – Licenses are controlled by the computer or seats, they are perpetual licenses. They can be further divided into: –
      • Individual/Per Seat – Sometimes also referred to individual license or licensing provided per individual. Usually a single license is installed with a single serial number for use on one computer.
      • Multi-seat – Multiple licenses on multiple computers.
    • Network Licensing – CAD software can be installed on multiple computers but a network licensing server centrally controls how many users are allowed to use the CAD software. The network license is invoked by each machine which is granted access based on number of licenses bought by the firm. Firms can save on costs by allowing sharing of licenses between users if all users will not be connected to the CAD application at the same time. This license type is also referred as Server Based or “Per Server”.
    • Concurrent License – Sometimes also referred to as Site Licensing. The license is controlled by concurrent usage of a certain number of active licenses from a pool of installed licenses.
    • Corporate Licensing – This method provides unlimited licensing for the entire corporate including its subsidiaries and wholly owned firms.

Lately CAD vendors have introduced new licensing models also known as Subscription, Rental or Pay As you Go etc. While the three names are used interchangeably by CAD software vendors, the onus is on the customers to understand the difference between each vendors licensing policy.

Autodesk’s subscription model is an add-on to the traditional perpetual licensing that promises the users to get an upgrade within the subscription period free of charge. Subscription period lasts for a term, as much as a year. On the other hand Siemens provides a monthly subscription license for Solid Edge. I recently covered Siemens’ subscription model user case study on for their customer Felxipump.

I believe we will continue to see more creative licensing options from CAD vendors in near future. Such models will only benefit the CAD users  making the software cheaper and more accessible, but the users/firms need to thoroughly understand the licensing model of a vendor as these newer licensing models can be confusing.


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