Autodesk Cloud Hard Sell

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.

0002Part 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.







29 Replies to “Autodesk Cloud Hard Sell”

  1. @Dave Ault
    Luckily we’re a single provider practice. Just imagine if we were a multi-doctor practice seeing 20-40 patients a day? By the way, the Cloud software is still down. I’m restricting our evals to local installs only.

    The Cloud software company “Thanks us for our patience”

  2. Well Devon at least you didn’t have to hire or maintain an IT staff to take care of your problems. I mean they do have you covered don’t they as promised? And their generous compensation for your downtime will ease the pain I am sure.

    There is another advantage to downtime you may not have considered. Patient confidentiality will be rigorously maintained during all internet down time so this is a PLUS and not a minus. See you just have to learn to look at it in the right perspective.

  3. More Cloud failures; 3rd time in 3 weeks we can’t access Cloud Server for Medical Electronic Records, Medical Billing/Coding software we are evaluating = Fail

  4. Classic… “we the users” need someone else (like big ole wise and all knowing intel) to tell “them” what we already know about the limitations of the cloud.

    Strikes a political cord… We the People… and our appointed reps vote against what “we” as a majority want… because the reps are being swayed by special interest… hmmmm???

    Same ole story…. nothing really changes.

  5. @Dave Ault
    Interesting article, thanks for the link Dave.

    Well there you go, Intel won’t put its Engineering Design files on The Cloud, period. And they list their reasons.

    I rest my case.

  6. Hey Devon, check this out.
    From ZDNet today

    In part it says

    “The cloud approach. Stevenson’s architecture is cloud heavy—for some things. Other areas such as product design and manufacturing data will never see the cloud or come anywhere near it.”

    “•Design: “Silicon design will never go out to the cloud. That’s our core IP,” said Stevenson. She added that no cloud service level agreement or chargeback would ever compensate for Intel’s intellectual property being leaked. Instead, product design runs on a high performance computing grid that’s internal.
    •Manufacturing: Manufacturing is another area that won’t be put into the cloud. The information is housed in small data centers near the manufacturing site and later aggregated.”

    I suppose she too is just another obstructionist and bigoted Neanderthal type backwards looking technophobe.

    The cloud is good for every problem you have or ever may have and is secure and requires no IT staff and saves you money.
    Please continue to look at the swinging watch in front of you.
    The cloud is good for every problem you have or may ever have and is secure and requires no IT staff and it saves you money.

  7. 4/18/2013
    These Medical Billing softwares we’re trying are all Cloud based & they suck, disconnect problems, then data lost even when Saved. Its only “text strings” come on man!

  8. I have to second that. I’ve had quite a long and fruitless conversation with the guys from Autodesk with regards their moving SB designer to a suite only product. Their attitude has been to tell me to simply buy the SB pro version instead. I was hoping to be able to use SB designer alongside Fusion 360 when it is released, but if that’s clearly not going to be possible then I guess I’ll stick with SB pro and Spaceclaim instead.

  9. @Knut F
    Yes, Sketchbook Pro was the original program, but has about half the tools of Sketchbook Designer. Basically, Pro is all Raster, while Designer is a combination of Vector and Raster. If you ever want to edit something you have sketched, then using Vectors is the only way. If you are good enough to sketch it right the first time, or fast enough to sketch it again, then Raster is fine. Having both in 1 program is awesome. Especially for those of us that don’t make a living at, and didn’t go to school for, freehand drawing.

    We upgraded from Pro to Designer when we saw what it was capable of. It is a great thing for us, but apparently we either have to go back to Pro or find something else in the coming years.

  10. @Eric Irwin


    Sketchbook Designer look a lot like Sketchbook Pro, which is availible as a standalone. And the cost is not to bad- 75$ – or?

    You either can/dare or can’t/will not dare put your work out on the cloud. It depends on what you are doing. But as a user I should be able to decide! Let say I run an analysis, or a rendering on the cloud. Will the files be completely removed after the job is finished? I think it is a hype, but I hear some managers (decision-makers) falling for it.

    BTW I hear you can make better products with ProE (CREO now) also.

  11. David,
    The cloud is a pet peeve of mine and so I look carefully for any signs of the cloud with SE. There are no plans to force users to the cloud with SE. There is no desire by those who run SE to force users to the cloud. Now if you willingly choose to use some sort of PLM stuff with SE you may have to communicate with other facilities this of course does use the internet. The CAD side of SE requires the internet only two times I am aware of. Email to get your license file which is used for your offline install and then downloading updates. My laptop which has a home use license never goes online and the email and update stuff is done with a different box and SE works just fine. It is not just cloud junk that is insecure. The internet itself can’t be made to be secure so if this is a true concern of yours your data and PC’s have to stay offline.

    Here is a question I asked and an answer from Karsten Newbury regarding this very thing recently.

    “Are there any intentions for Solid Edge to go to or use the cloud?”
    Karsten’s reply,

    ” First, anybody can host software and it’s been around for a while. Customers can certainly already pick their “platform of choice” to run their systems. Having said that, as a customer you can decide to host Solid Edge if you want to, but we are not putting Solid Edge/CAD in the cloud. Our CAD innovation focus is on productivity tools, such as synchronous technology, that help our customers design and engineer better.”

  12. @Devon Sowell
    Devon, Your comparison to other cloud applications provides great perspective. For one, I think that my design data should be more protected than my medical records. and my financial records should be even more secure than my product design data. Most all financial information is maintained on a mainframe computer, which provides much greater data security than does a client server. I don’t know the requirements that you speak of in describing the requirements for medical records, but I think that my design data should be on the same level as my financial records. A private client server (meaning your own) may be OK, but if you are relying on third party data storage, it should be on a mainframe. Or that should be an available option if you desire a higher security level.

    I don’t think we should have to accept a standard DS, or AD or SE cloud solution that does not meet our security needs. Perhaps the medical record standards are insufficient.

  13. @Eric
    Funnily enough I was just looking at Sketchbook Designer again this last week having made note to come back and trial it properly after it had matured some. I was quite keen until I discovered that since last November you can no longer buy it. WTF! It now only comes in a bundle with stuff I don’t want. Well needless to say there is no sale pending here. Looking at something else now. I have never liked Autodesk for their business practices and this experience just reinforced my view.

  14. @Tim Cochrane
    Tim this brings up a point I’ve been shouting about for many years.

    Medicare(CMS) has rules, regulations, audits, inspections, codes, certifications, laws, over site, & penalties for abuse & fraud when it comes to Medical information that is transmitted and/or stored online.

    However, these items DO NOT EXIST for Engineering Data information that is transmitted and/or stored online. Until they do exist, it’s foolish to compute, store, or manipulate Engineering Data information online/in The Cloud.

    Cheers, Devon

  15. @Tim Cochrane
    “HIPPA regulations specify that providers can disclose protected health information for payment activities. Typically, the information includes just the patient’s diagnosis and procedures/services rendered, Therefore the provider should require the patient to sign an authorization to release medical information…”

    OK so let’s say you’re not comfortable with that, you don’t want your Doctor transmitting/mailing anything about you. Well you have a choice.

    Go to your Doctor’s office, ask for a new HIPPA form and change the options, you have that right. Of course then you’d have to pay cash for all your medical treatments. Then ask for a billing statement from your Doctor and submit it to your insurance company yourself for reimbursement, using any means you like.

    Ever since Medicare was created, this coded information has been sent via mail and now electronically to the CMS(Centers for Medicare) & private insurance companies for history, processing, and payment since 1965.

  16. We started using Sketchbook Designer about a year ago, which has been terribly buggy and crash prone, but was good enough to keep us using it. Now to get updates, we will have to buy a bundle of software, which we will not using any of, except for SB Designer. I don’t understand what they are thinking with this “bundle only” model.

  17. Devon Sowell :
    In my research so far;
    yes yearly fees
    backups to local are a manual step
    some systems state up to 30min before uploaded data available online(!)
    questions about security and availability if I discontinue my subscription go unanswered
    older systems won’t connect to Medicare or visa versa older systems that connect to Medicare won’t connect to BlueCross/BlueShield(that’s a show stopper)
    sound familiar? LOL

    Interesting. I wonder how that works with HIPPA?

  18. Saw this [] link being thrown around on the twitter-sphere…simplifies what you get in the three levels.

    Not that having this many different apps, is a simplified version of, well, anything!

  19. @matt
    In my research so far;

    yes yearly fees
    backups to local are a manual step
    some systems state up to 30min before uploaded data available online(!)
    questions about security and availability if I discontinue my subscription go unanswered
    older systems won’t connect to Medicare or visa versa older systems that connect to Medicare won’t connect to BlueCross/BlueShield(that’s a show stopper)

    sound familiar? LOL

  20. @Devon Sowell
    Congrats on the new business. The medical people know how to keep you paying. So you’ll have to keep paying for the software regardless if you want updates or not. No backup system, so an internet outage makes your records unavailable.

    Surely you could find an older system and use that?

  21. Matt-

    My Wife & I are starting a new business, Medical Health Records, Medical Coding & Billing. So far, every software application we’ve looked at is Cloud based. You download the client app, for example .5MB, then connect to their Server. All computations and files are run and stored on that Server. I’ve yet to find an app that is local based(at least one that anyone actually uses).

    Just wanted to share that.

  22. AutoCAD users get some free rendering jobs, and so I submitted some. From my experience, I found that (a) cloud renderings took longer than my desktop doing the same jobs; (b) there were many more steps involved in doing cloud renderings; (c) two cloud renderings jobs never completed; and (d) due to the low amount of status info, I have no idea why they were not returned to me.

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