Cloud concerns – Security – Autodesk puts its arguments on line

Cloud concerns – Security – Autodesk puts its arguments on line

I’ve made the point before that while Cloud proponents like Autodesk have been happy to talk big on the potential benefits, they have been conspicuously (suspiciously?) silent on the legitimate concerns their customers have raised. The best responses you have been likely to see regarding such concerns can best be characterised as “glossing over”.

So it’s good to see that Autodesk has put together a white-paper-type-thing called Autodesk® 360: Work Wherever You Are – Safely. This 275 KB PDF, with 5 pages of actual content, puts Autodesk’s point of view about one of the aspects of Cloud that people commonly raise as a concern. This is a good start, but of course there are quite a few potential dealbreakers that need addressing yet.

How well does this document address this issue? As you’d expect from Autodesk, it’s gung-ho positive, but there is at least some acknowledgement of Cloud concerns, e.g. “Customer experiences, however, can be largely impacted by the speed and quality of their Internet connection”. In addition to such occasional connections with the real world, there are some categorical assurances that may make some potential users happier. Here are some examples:

Autodesk 360 is delivered from data centers in the United States.

Files and identities are safe during storage, transit, and usage.

As part of Autodesk‟s due diligence for customer security and protection, prospective Autodesk personnel with potential access to sensitive data are screened through background checks before being employed.

Once purged, your data may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time but will not be recovered or read by anyone.

Customers own the content they create.

While that’s all well and good, Autodesk needs to get its legal team reading off the same page and fix up its terms and conditions to make them less anti-customer. Otherwise, this virtual document is worth more less than the virtual paper it’s written on. Some parts of the document are only superficially reassuring:

Any access to customer data or personal information is strictly governed by the Autodesk 360 Terms of Service ( Autodesk‟s Privacy Policy (, and internal procedures.

While that sounds fine on the face of it, Autodesk has violated its own Privacy Policy in the recent past and to the best of my knowledge, nothing ever came of it. That assurance is therefore rendered completely worthless by Autodesk’s own history. Add to that the fact that both the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy are extremely rubbery and rather one-sided, and this statement becomes more of a concern than a reassurance.

Other parts of the document are contradictory. Take these statements, for example:

Working in the cloud is all about reducing the hassles and headaches that companies and employees would rather avoid, like …. Managing data security and backups

It’s good practice, however, to personally observe safety and security wherever and whenever you are using Autodesk 360 …. Download and back up work locally in a secure environment.

Cloud’s great because it saves you having to make backups. However, make sure you make backups of the stuff you put on the Cloud. Hmm, okay…

So what do you think of this document? Is it all spin or does it address your security concerns? If it addresses your concerns, does it do so to your satisfaction? Please have a read and add your comments.


  1. S Lafleur

    Doesn’t reassure me at all. Sounds all well and good in theory, but it’s a pretty big assumption that access to the internet/cloud is even available at all times and in all places where one may need to access one’s data. I don’t think, as a company, that we’ve even gotten close to the point of having to worry about the security aspects, yet. I don’t see us ever relying on the cloud for data storage. Perhaps one day as a means of sharing with clients/vendors, but working on all our data from some ephemeral cloud storage location? Not getting warm fuzzies about that idea.

  2. The only reason Autodesk would promote anything (including their cloud) is because it will make them a profit. That is their starting point, their default position, their comfort zone, end of story, so you must assume that the terms are favorable to them. In order for them to make a profit, someone has to pay. Does anyone imagine that they are backed by some benvolent billionaire who funds their efforts because he is an altruistic angel? EVERYTHING autodesk does is for profit, so all terms must favor the house.

    Profit is a great thing, but when we the users are continually shortchanged for the sake of shareholder benefit (profit), we ought to start feeling “ripped off”, and get mad enough to become shareholders ourselves. We are not helpless sheep who can do nothing to stop this behavior – autodesk’s corporate activities are not driven by some inexorable tectonic force over which we can never have any say – buy stock, and your voice will be heard. If we collectively buy enough stock, WE will dictate the terms.

    1. Bud Perry

      That is not exactly how public stock works. I own stock in Autodesk and all I ever get to do is vote on the board members, but typically there’s only one choice so the point is probably moot. I have absolutely no influence on what the company does with its software development.

  3. daveea

    i find that, for the most part, one can truly understand the risks involved with using the cloud (or “the fog” as i like to call it these days) for *anything* … by answering this simple analogous question: are you willing and able to sell your own car (and all the perks and problems that go with owning your own car) to completely rely on someone else’s taxi service (and all the perks and problems that go with completely relying on someone else’s taxi service) for all your driving needs?

    1. daveea:

      Good analogy, becaue it is apt, and becuase it is a time-tested question, asked in the past by millions. The answer has evolved to become “There is a place for both solutions”. But when you extend the analogy to overlay it on the cloud terms autodesk promulgates, you get new problems like:

      1. Autodesk reserves the right to drive you wherever they feel like driving you.
      2. Autodesk may at any time in the past or future charge you an undisclosed fee, to be determined solely by autodesk.
      3. Autodesk may use your luggage at any time for purposes autodesk deems appropriate.

      It is a far better business decision for my company steer completely clear of such an utter abdication of control.

  4. Chip

    These two statements in the Terms of Service { } should keep most people and firms from using it period.

    1. You hereby grant Autodesk (or warrant that the licensor of such rights has expressly granted) a perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, paid-up, worldwide, sublicensable (through multiple tiers) license to store, display, reproduce, modify, use and transmit Your Content…

    2. Autodesk reserves the right, from time to time in its sole discretion, to (a) modify or release subsequent versions of the Service, (b) impose license keys or other means of controlling access to the Service, (c) limit or suspend Your access to the Service, and (d) change, suspend or discontinue the Service at any time.

    1. S Lafleur

      So basically, the taxi has no inside door handles and the driver can take you into an alley and have his way with you, then take your wallet & jewelry for good measure.

    1. R.Paul Waddington

      Jurek, would you like to share what work you do which is now “easier and less of a hassle” done in the cloud. Along with that info’ would you like to show us how much more profitable it is to do “your work” in the cloud in comparision to when you were working “outside” the cloud.

  5. NeilJ

    Where are all the online options for Civil 3D??

    The only worthwhile aspect of the Cloud is to be able to use the settings etc elsewhere. Use of the Cloud also assumes that you have unfetterd access to the Internet everywhere which is just not going to happen….

  6. R.Paul Waddington

    Having read through Autodesk’s 360 Security Overview 2012 one question I would asked is why did they bother? Why did Autodesk publish this paper?

    Looked at from the perspective of an existing customer and potential user and, armed with a long and detailed background knowledge of Autodesk managements’ refusal to engaged in genuine consultation in relation to company policy and, more importantly, licencing and terms and conditions of use, I considered the Security Over 2012 paper as nothing more than an useless effort for all.

    Those of us looking for genuine useful information on which to base business decisions will have found nothing of value save for the manner in which the paper reinforces the knowledge Autodesk is not able to address the real business issues – of the “cloud” for customers – in a professional manner.

    Others will have their views about the contents and how it relates to their particular operations but the reality is all Autodesk is saying in this paper is they are offering a “service” of sorts, accepting no responsibility for the any component of the deliverables and, expecting the customers/users to accept all responsibilities for access, integrity and security.

    ‘Trust Us’ has and remains Autodesk’s cat cry and the Autodesk 360 Security Overview 2012 paper continues the theme in the hope readers have parked their brains in neutral and are prepared to follow Bass and his fellow employees like fish in a school.

    “The cloud”, as for many business tools, has advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages of services from software vendors and internet services are well understood and it is these issues we are looking for answers too. A vendor telling me they have secure system is no substitute for demonstrating the ability.

    What’s missing in Autodesk’s Security Overview 2012 is a demonstration of the security they are offering along with no indication of Autodesk’s acceptance of their responsibility to deliver what they say they are providing and, no indication they will accept responsibility, or compensate customers/users for their losses as a result of Autodesk’s failures.

    24/7 Accessibility they cry and we know that is not possible, for a number of reasons.
    Security – “we are better than you and yours” the cry. Well no not really: and, by parsing the final security to the customer, Autodesk are turning the own statements into lies; Autodesk’s security offering is a deception and, it is of their own making.
    Management of software and data etc. – again we are better at this than you and yours. What arrogance: and almost as big a lie as the one about security.
    We’re faster than you: oh really? Just how so?

    Autodesk’s document appears to be written to allay security fears but provides no substance to support its assertions. The paper expands to issue of speed and accessibly, but again, supplies NO substantial supporting data and at NO stage addresses important information required to support a business case.

    Autodesk (and other software vendors) have completely failed, in the past, and continue to do so with this paper, to make a business case for the use of their “cloud” services. How am I and others to profit from what is on offer from Autodesk? My customers profit from the offerings/services I provide else they would not buy. I do not see Autodesk making even a passing effort to address this issue with fact.

    If “cloud” services are profitable business will weigh the dangers, and risks, against the returns. Along with Autodesk’s unfavourable terms of use; if NO substantial increase in profits (in $’s) are to had from using Autodesk’s “cloud” services then, to customers’, what use are they?

    If you were looking to Autodesk’s 360 Security Overview 2012 paper for answers to the real questions you will be disappointed and, if your over twelve year old, and have been looking to Autodesk for a professional responses to the questions being asked about “cloud” services you are entitled to be insulted by Autodesk written response.

  7. Lance W

    The cloud will be one more failed Autodesk attempt at that new fangled web thingy. They just can not seem to figure out how to effectivly use the web for anything. Though I would say that the cloud is worse than usual. The “we can cut you off or sell your stuff whenever we feel like it” clauses pretty much make the cloud useless for even testing, as far as I am concerned.

  8. James Maeding

    It is interesting that Autodesk think we like the idea of being dependent on them. Last time I checked (now), we are doing everything possible not to have such a relationship. An offsite server that is not exclusive to a company, owned by Autodesk, is about the last, furthest, most remote thing I can think of wanting. I might use it for transmitting files, but never as the real location of items I work on.

    What would really be scary, is if they did come up with decent BIM software for Civil’s. They could, they have the talent, but seem convinced their current implementation is going to do the trick. Anyway, should they fix the major issues, and industry did like their design prog, we would really be in trouble. Its crazy because the adesk business antics have completely undermined the technical accomplishments going on.

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