Autodesk Reaches for the Cloud

Michael Vizard

As one of the more compute-intensive applications used on the desktop by any business, the hardware investment needed to run CAD/CAM applications from Autodesk can be quite substantial.

In addition, the nature of that work when Autodesk is deployed on-premise tends to be sequential because desktop systems can only really process one set of tasks at a time. So when you couple potential hardware savings with increased productivity, cloud computing seems like a natural for Autodesk.




Project Butterfly


According to Grant Rochelle, director of digital simulations in Autodesk's Manufacturing Industry Group, Autodesk has several cloud computing initiatives under way that extend the its capabilities on the desktop. Those projects include:

  • Inventor Optimization Technology Preview: Allows designers and engineers that use Autodesk Inventor simulation tools to optimize their designs via the Web.


  • Project Cumulus: a software-as-a-service implementation of Autodesk's Moldflow Insight software that optimizes injection-molded plastic part designs and related manufacturing processes by running simulations in the cloud.


  • Project Butterfly: An online CAD editor that simplifies the design process by allowing multiple users to work on the same drawing in real time, simultaneously or separately. It eliminates the need to manage multiple copies of the same drawing.


  • Project Photofly: Used to create 3D models from a series of photographs. As part of this service, the calibration process is automated using a calibration engine called "Camera Factory."


  • Project Neon: Creates photo-realistic renderings of projects without the need for dedicated rendering hardware. Project Neon allows for 10 projects to be rendered in the cloud at the same time.


Rochelle says that because Autodesk makes heavy use of graphics processors, there will always be some need to process data locally. But it's also becoming clear that the economics of cloud computing can be applied to processing AutoCAD data remotely across a wide variety of application scenarios.


Rochelle adds that Autodesk is already exploring a broad number of cloud computing implementations of its software at the request of specific customers, many of which he expects will turn into additional commercial services.


As more processing power is brought to bear via cloud computing, the economics of many projects will fundamentally change as more engineers start to work in parallel on multiple projects. And anything that results in faster project completion times is going to be a major boon to the business as whole at a time when every hour of additional productivity counts more than ever.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 26, 2010 6:22 PM Scott Sheppard Scott Sheppard  says:

Thanks for helping to spread the word. The Inventor Optimization technology preview will be coming to Autodesk Labs soon.


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