Carl Bass confirms Cloud-only future for Autodesk – or does he?

Carl Bass confirms Cloud-only future for Autodesk – or does he?

As reported by Joe Francica (via WorldCAD Access), Carl Bass has confirmed, in a somewhat ambiguous way, that his Cloud-only vision rules at Autodesk.

I do believe that everything is moving to the cloud.


There are a lot of applications that will [still] be done on the desktop. Whether Autodesk does it or not, I can’t think of a single function that won’t necessarily be done in the cloud.

Still a bit confused? Me too. It’s not clear where this leaves his underlings who have been rushing to contradict Carl’s earlier statements by unambiguously reassuring customers that Autodesk would continue to provide desktop software. Will they now come out with “clarifying” statements that fall into line with whatever it is Carl’s saying here? I doubt it, that would be just too embarrassing. I suspect we’ll see things go very quiet on this subject for a while.

Now we know (or do we?) it’s full steam ahead with desktop dismantlement, what about all those Cloud concerns? Carl does the standard Cloud PR thing of “addressing” that question by restating some of the concerns, ignoring others, but not coming up with answers for any of them other than expressing a vague hope that some of them will go away:

Foremost in people’s mind is security, privacy, reliability, confidential information. Some of those concerns will fall by the wayside.

Asked to come up with a compelling reason for customers to embrace the Cloud, he didn’t:

In many cases, for anyone to move to any technology platform you have to do more than what people have today. So what’s the compelling event? I think what you will see in the cloud is that it will look like every other disruptive technology. Some people will downplay it. Some will poo poo it.

More of the same, then. It’s disruptive, but people with legitimate concerns about that disruption are just naysayers to ignore. With an attitude like that, the chances of Autodesk taking its dubious customer base with it into Cloudy Heaven are slim indeed.

Caveat: I do not have access to the entire interview, so the opinions expressed here are based only on what I do have. It’s quite possible that Carl had something useful to say that didn’t appear in the article.


  1. ralphg

    CAD on the cloud appeals primarily to large corporations, and this is the market I think Carl Bass is chasing, especially after Autodesk fell to #2 position behind Dassault. The ideal is that all Autodesk software run only on the cloud, but desktop versions will be made available to knuckle-dragging cloud-deniers for another decade or so.

      1. R. Paul Waddington

        Amongst all the CAD vendor talk (Autodesk & Dassault included), about CAD in the cloud, there has been one glaring omission – a business case.

        In Dave Aults’s blog, Solidedging, Scott Jones complained Dave was very negative in his approach and comments relating to CAD in the cloud and he made the following statement; “So i long for a pay as you go model.”

        Scott “longs” for CAD in the cloud because he believe it is going to be good for his business and infered it would be for us as well. In response Dave presented him with an opportunity to justify his position and I asked him the following; “For the moment ignore licencing, security, access & ownership issues, if you,…..; Scott paint the business case you see as a form of evidence you have thought CAD in the cloud through as thoroughly as some of us have.” And (have) received NO answer in over a week – and don’t expect one either.

        The inabilty of Bass, Charles and EVERY other person I have read, or heard speak of CAD in the cloud do so in a way which completely avoids the realities of business. By now Bass & Charles either MUST know what value CAD in the cloud is and if they don’t (I’m going out on a limb here) I say they must now be considered to be (at worst) lying to the market place or, at best, making comments which are intended to deliberately mislead the market place.

        Another point to be made here is one which has dogged the CAD industry for a very long time. CAD vendors put a shield around their business plans (and I understand why they do) but have failed to wake up to the fact customers need to make their own business plans. Whilst CAD was new it may have been appropriate and possible for a business to manage the uncertainty but, that is no longer the case. CAD is an integral well established (critical for some) business tool; for those reasons CAD vendors MUST react professionally in providing adequate data, in a timely manner, to ensure businesses can make sensible long term decisions .

        As said in Dave’s blog AutoCAD licences cost me 40 cents/hour and Inventor 94 cents/hour. If I can work those costs out why is it BASS and CHARLES, their contradicting subordinates, the dealers or any other person for that matter, after the years of talking have not and don’t apppear able to make a business case?

        1. James Maeding

          yah, and you cannot make a business case without prefacing it with how add-ons are handled. The problem is if there is tight interaction between remote acad and the presuambly local 3rd party tools, problems with speed can arise.
          But since there is no talk of how that would work, there is no evidence to believe they will handle it right.
          In other words, due to Autodesks recent actions, we now presume Autodesk to be guilty of doing things wrong until proven innocent. THere is not a lot of evidence to the latter.

  2. James Maeding

    How does Autodesk know the market wants autocad and verticals to run on the cloud?
    We have not seen a full implementation of it as SAAS, so its all still just a big idea. So easy and safe to throw around big ideas. Hope and Change come to mind as recently thrown around.

  3. This is so exciting. I just spent an hour on Windows 8. I now know what the future with Autodesk promises. If it’s anything like my V8 experience then AutoCAD 2015 will be shrink wraped in the last chance impulse bin at WalMart.

    There will be a surcharge for anything I’m asked to perform on a Windows 8 machine. Then I’ll keep adding significent digits until they say no. Best iMac sales incentive Apple could possibly devise.

    Microsoft & Autodesk. Who follows whom into the museum of dead companies.

    Looks so bad I’m gonna clean up that old stone and sharpen my ruling pens.

    They’re standing at the edge of the rooftop, holding hands, and crowd of their users are looking up and not even bothering to yell “jump”. Not that they’d listen to customers…

  4. “Foremost in people’s mind is security, privacy, reliability, confidential information. Some of those concerns will fall by the wayside.” – what about data soverenty? At the moment is our data hits a US server we no longer own it! Now that is a deal breaker.

  5. JG Gerth

    While listening to the Keynote address at AU, the thought that kept running though my mind was the old tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Perhaps Carl is constantly being told what his people think he wants to hear, rather than what customer’s are saying. And all we as end-user’s need is the small child to pipe up and say ‘But he’s naked!’

    As an aside, i found it humorous that after the multi-day hyping of ‘the Cloud’, it was apparently impossible to keep a couple of dozen AU feedback laptops running reliably on the cloud.

    1. R. Paul Waddington

      Your reference to “the Emperor’s clothes” has a ring of truth; in large organizations it is a pitfall a manager can easily fall into if s/he takes their eyes of the ball and rely – without some well established checks in place – only on the information they are fed.

      In this day and age though, at least in our industry, it should be different. If BASS (Autodesk) and CHARLES (Dassault) don’t know what we are thinking, and saying, it is because they are deliberately ignoring.

      Which raises an interesting point: with the ease of communication existing now why is it we can say what we say and yet not a single portion of top management (or PR) wades into the fray to, if nothing else, to prevent or minimize the PR damage.

      Having the personal brush, over licencing, I have had with Autodesk I am not surprised by Bass and Charles seemingly cavalier/ignorant approach to customers. It was CEO ignorance which moved me to take the stance I did. Both these CEO’s are watching a number of very capable people, who not that long ago were “on their side”, raise significant issues and they have also been ignored.

      Both the CEOs are more than capable of engaging the customers directly – in various ways – but THEY CHOOSE NOT TOO. This can only be seen as a disinterest in those customers. It is very foolish behaviour unless, of course, it is a strategy being deployed to shed (all) customers who maybe considered of insignificant (low) value.

  6. spacefrog

    Simply spoken: they (the CEO’s) are not talking to the user-type customer, but to their investors and decision makers on a whole different level ( Directors, CEO’S and such ). They try to push this cloud thing through by painting a phantastic (and unrealistic) picture of a milk and honey CAD-land once the cloud thing has landed. They are not targetting us… they long for the bigger fish(es)…
    We suffer because of this, but they risk it …

  7. R. Paul Waddington

    “While at Autodesk University, I flat out asked Carl Bass about the issue of Inventor’s long term future. While he wasn’t willing to write anything in blood, he didn’t equivocate. He can easily see Inventor being an important CAD tool ten years in the future, and beyond. Though he’s a big proponent of the cloud, he recognizes that desktop applications will be with us for a very long time.”

    Steve the quote above I have just flic’d out of Evan Yares part 2 article on Fusion 360 to be found at

    You and the crew following may be interested to read Evan’s take on the “product” and some of the issue which obviously surround a cloud application.

  8. plawton

    Mr. Maeding:

    As far as I know, the only wishlist autodesk has ever considered worthy of review is the wishlist from the shareholders. This wishlist has just one wish this year … it’s the same wish they’ve had every year since Mr. Walker orchestrated the IPO in 1985. For your consideration, then, here is The Shareholders Wishlist: “1. Please send us more money, or else we’ll vote you out and replace you with a crew who can provide 10% growth per year or more.” If you have become a shareholder, then of course you already know this.

    See, the difference between the shareholder’s wishlist and the user’s wishlist is that little phrase at the end, which is known in polite circles as ‘the stick’. This warm and friendly Stick will always command the undivided attention of management, to the exclusion of any other wishlist – rest assured and have no doubt about that.

    Armed with this knowledge, one can get a much clearer understanding of why autodesk is pushing their product line into the fog – control and money. Like Steve said back in November: “This has nothing to do with what you want, it has everything to do with what Autodesk wants.” A better summary does not exist – thanks Steve.

  9. R. Paul Waddington

    Steve, an article by Nancy Spurling Johnson in cadalyst about Autodesk and the cloud gave me a bit of a chuckle in particlar the FUD spouted at the end of the third part by Teresa Payton – a former……….

    “Security on the Cloud, Explained by a Security Expert

    Teresa Payton, a former White House CIO and expert on cyber-security and identity theft, was next to take the stage. “I think it takes a lot of guts for a vendor to ask a security expert to come in and talk about the cloud,” she said. “Autodesk wants to have an open and honest dialogue with you about how to understand security in the cloud.”

    One thing that concerns CIOs and CEOs is intellectual property theft, Payton acknowledged, adding that 51% of CIOs cite security as their greatest concern regarding current or planned moves to cloud computing.

    “You have a right to be concerned about security of your intellectual property on the cloud,” she said. Data security should always be your first priority, whether it’s stored on the cloud or in your own systems. “You need a prenup with your cloud vendor,” she advised. If the company goes out of business or if you move off the platform in the future, what happens?

    “I believe with the right best practices and the right conversations with your vendor, you can actually be safer in the cloud,” Payton concluded. “Pick your partners wisely. Everyone is penetrable. The key is figuring out what guidelines to follow when your digital assets are gone, and figuring out how to handle the incident and how to let your customers know.

    “You cannot protect that which you do not have in your line of sight. And that is what makes you nervous about the cloud. But, in some regards, you’d be better off going to the cloud because you can hold that provider contractually liable and ensure that your data is secure.””

    Is she actully telling us we are going to be able to discuss terms of use with Autodesk?

    1. R. Paul Waddington

      That was first thing that made me laugh Steve. Having first hand experience in trying to discuss Autodesk’s terms and conditions of use, I know Paytons comments could not be further from the truth unless, of course, maybe, your name is GM, BHP or of similar.

      All the best for the Christmas season to you and your readers Steve.

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