All major Autodesk products on the Cloud by 2014?

All major Autodesk products on the Cloud by 2014?

As reported by multiple on-line news outlets, Autodesk just announced that it is increasing its research and development budget (having slashed it last year), and increasing the percentage of that budget on the Cloud. Carl Bass:

When there are technology transitions in place, you better be more mindful of that, or you become roadkill.

That’s fair enough. Autodesk would be stupid to ignore the Cloud, and needs to bet at least some of its cash on anything that stands a significant chance of being important. This quote from Autodesk spokesman Paul Sullivan gets more specific:

We are devoting a larger percentage of our R&D budget to cloud computing, with a significant portion of our new product investments going toward products that are cloud-enabled. We expect that all of our major products will be available in the cloud within the next three years.

Now “available” can mean various things. The restricted trial of Cloud-based AutoCAD, Inventor and other products is already year-old news, but that fits the “available” bill. So does a situation where the product is exclusively available on the Cloud and you can no longer buy standalone software. Between those two extremes, there are a variety of possible definitions of “available”. So we’re not that much wiser as a result of that statement.

However, one thing is clear. Autodesk is spending up big on making this Cloud thing happen, so traditional software is going to suffer from a comparitive lack of investment. Autodesk customers, you’re the source of all that cash. How do you feel about subsidising the move of your software tools to the Cloud?


  1. How I feel, depends what the cloud means. I don’t see the choice is desktop or cloud, it’s more likley desktop and cloud.

    How do I feel about Microsoft adding cloud storage to Office in 2010. Happy, but a small fraction of my office documents are cloud based. However the cloud capablity with the power of a full local client leaves pure cloud based solutions for dead.

    It’s about the use and capability of technology more than the technology itself.

  2. In a perfect world I’m fine. It’s when I am limited by the cloud that I, and most people are not comfortable. The cloud should open doors, not squeeze your capabilities becasue of limitations of space, security, bandwidth, and of course the damn lousy internet connection somewhere.
    I love being able to leverage big power when I need it, and this is my initial appreciation of the cloud.

  3. ekubaskie

    When you fire up CAD, there’s a whole lotta data flying back & forth at 300 megabit speeds. What performance can we expect from my home connection at 18 down & 2 up? Or worse, the office’s 10 down & 1 up shared with 70 other users? And when the “cloud” is a finite number of servers shared between a couple hundred thousand simultaneous CAD users?

    I wonder what things will be like when the first successful cloud-spoofer hijacks the connection and loads all those CAD PCs with the Russian mob’s custom banking data collector code instead of the “CIRCLE” command. How about “OOPS”?

    We’re talking about adding dozens of ways for things to fail, and what do we get in return? A smaller install package? Lighter hard drive footprint? Hard drives are around $80 per advertising terabyte. Missing a deliverable because of a high sunspot count?

    What will the ISPs’ reactions be to the increased load? Streaming video from Netflix, et. al., is freaking them out now, and it has barely caught on yet. Download caps don’t affect many folks now, but loading your software via the web rather than from your internal drive could well notch you over the line.

    Worst of all, IMO, is that when one of the processes fail, it’s completely beyond your control. You can’t just fire up another workstation, or swap out a hard drive – you are dependent upon somebody you don’t know – somewhere you don’t know – to fix it.

  4. R. Paul Waddington

    “How do you feel about subsidizing the move of your software tools to the Cloud?”
    I have no problem with “my money” being used by a company to develop new or different products – that’s what we all do – provided the products we currently use are not deliberately disadvantaged, ignored and or stall totally to apply pressure…..?

    What seems to be forgotten in this debate, and in CAD software development in general, is the fact that whilst change may “be inevitable” CAD vendors are quite deliberately interfering and controlling the business decisions and direction of their customers. This is absurd: for heavens sake CAD vendors are suppliers of a business tool and ones, that are for me, critical in all aspects including cost. For other larger businesses CAD software is a minor cost but, it is for some of those, a major pain; creating hefty unnecessary costs to their businesses due to the incessant changes needing to be managed.

    It may be seen as ok to pressure/push constant software upgrades through the use of subscription because, in the main the customers still gets to control the implementation of the change. Cloud only based software, potentially, removes totally, a customers control and or choice about how and when they can implement the variations into their businesses. This is totally ridiculous. To think CAD software vendors know how to run their customers businesses better than they, borders on stupidity.

    Software vendors can and do change in a flash: customers, those using CAD tools, are not in the same position needing considerably longer and variable time frames. That being the case making a statement like “We expect that all of our major products will be available in the cloud within the next three years.” Can be very unsettling and counterproductive because it indicate a “no choice” mentality. It also shows the speaker has little or no thought about the ramification to the customer.

    Now, in the final wash-up, we may find we have several choices when it come to making the change but, what I see as a major problem here is the fear speculation the vendors are allowing to propagate in the market place. The concern about the cloud has been created by the CAD vendors and I see it as very damaging. It damages CAD vendors’ management’s credibility; they are seen as inconsiderate (and are). Their in-consideration is demonstrated through both the way they “feeding’ information and the current “contractual” restriction determining access to their products and services.

    I think a better approach to CAD in the cloud could well be products fully developed out of sight and released as finished a state. Complete with their access and contractual terms and condition all presented in the one instance; then let customers decide.

    CAD customers MUST be given significant choice and they MUST be allowed to FULLY control how and when business tools, they are heavily committed to using, are implemented or not and under what contractual terms. CAD vendors should have NO right – without accepting full responsibly – to force their customers into making choices which may have, extremely damaging or, costly consequences.

  5. Well said Paul.
    My company is a small to medium size company. We are on subscription but it is still a major expenditure for us. We have been using Autocad products for quite a long time. We have talked about going to another software but the trouble associated is always a concern. If Autodesk does strictly cloud based products we may be forced to look elsewhere. The loss of control could be a major concern. I guess we will have to wait and see what they come up with.
    I’m not looking forward to it.

  6. Jon

    I don’t think a heavy duty program that requires at least semi-serious graphics power can function on the cloud for the average office or home computer and internet connection. Also, I personally use the software while flying, where the cloud is not available.

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