Today I attended part of a web cast from Autodesk introducing their 2014 line of products. I have to say that they have an amazing breadth of tools. Some of the tools they have acquired are truly tops in their respective industries, like Alias, 3DSmax, Moldflow, and many others. It’s hard getting past my vision of Autodesk as being the cheap junk aisle of the CAD market. Products in the past such as AutoCAD, Mechanical Desktop, Inventor, and Algor have reinforced this notion. It’s a bit telling that all of the truly world-class stuff they have for sale is stuff that other companies have developed.
Part of the 2014 offering is that Autodesk has grouped tools into suites, much like Adobe. I recently purchased an Adobe suite, which while expensive, also saved me a lot of money compared to buying the individual components one by one. Of the Design Suite, Mudbox, 3ds Max, and Alias look interesting. Bundling may or may not make sense, depending on how they price the bundles, and what percentage of the items in the bundle you would intend to use. Inventor must be included in some other bundle I didn’t see, but I thought it would make sense to include Inventor with this set of tools shown in the image. (Here’s a link to the Product Design Suite including Inventor. $9995 for all that stuff isn’t that bad – Inventor Pro, AutoCAD, ACAD Mechanical, Mudbox, Vault, Electrical, 3ds Max, Alias, and other stuff)
Also as part of this, Autodesk was talking a lot about cloud services. What troubles me about what they were saying was that they were assigning properties to the cloud that do not belong to the cloud. I know every marketing department does this for just about every product, but it just bothers me. They were saying things like you will be more innovative if you use the cloud, and you will get your work done faster on the cloud. Citing new accounts at the rate of 700k+ per month. (I’m at least two of those new accounts, and for me, having a new account doesn’t translate into actually using the software or paying for any services). The innovation things just bugs me. It’s obvious BS. Tools are just tools. Anything cool you do comes from you, not from your tools. If you develop sucky products with one tool, you’ll probably do the same with anything else you try too.
The one explicit example of using the cloud that stuck with me was one where it actually makes sense. Using cloud for rendering can make sense where you have an absolutely huge rendering job to do, and your local resources cannot handle it. For just rendering small jobs that you would normally do on your desktop, the cloud is no advantage.
The point here is that to Autodesk, this isn’t some vague thing off on the horizon that they won’t talk about explicitly. To Autodesk, these design tools are in the process of arriving on the cloud. I’d be interested to hear from Autodesk users who are actually using cloud services what they think of the value and the added risk, or any other comments they might like to share.