I took a lot of technically ok photos of Carl Bass, Autodesk President and Chief Executive Officer, addressing the media Q&A but thought, although blurred, this one captured him best.
It was soon after the AU General session and Carl seemed pretty relaxed, with a coffee in hand. Jeff Kowalski, Autodesk CTO, was also on present to elaborate on his General Session theme of “Infinite Computing”.
Hazy on “The Cloud”
Questions about “Autodesk & The Cloud” resulted in as many questions as answers. Rather than direct customers to a single solution, or platform, it seems Autodesk are getting more agnostic. Support for OS and “cloudiness” is by merit, or market share, and appropriateness rather than dogma.
There certainly seems to be a more modular approach to applications. The recent launch, in US, of AutoCAD for Mac was said to be the result of OS independent core application code with only the specifics of user interface/OS interaction being matched to the platform.
Although the cloud featured, as in the general session, it seems a flexible approach being adopted. For instance, AutoCAD WS was released as a Cloud only browser/iOS platform application but its latest 1.1 update supports off-line use. This makes it more viable in New Zealand where mobile data is expensive and connectivity a challenge at times.
Carl emphasised, as last year*, Autodesk is not getting into the cloud/server hardware game (maybe any further considering they have Buzzsaw) and will use external data centres for it’s cloud storage. With cloud space & processing costs quoted in cents/unit there seems little business imperative to join that race.
Jeff mentioned that the most realistic model will likely be a mix of local/cloud storage and processing with the task and location determining which you use. It was something he covered in more detail in the Technology Main stage which I’ll cover in a future post. Given Autodesk sites range from one to thousands of users I suspect they will see very different cloud adoption rates in their customer base.
I much prefer the hybrid cloud approach but maybe that’s more a comment on NZ web performance and my desire to have the data on my drive for local backup. This blog has been authored using Live Mesh file storage/sync (for draft files & Images) for several years and I happily used Dropbox for my AU travel documents and notes.
The consumer focus, or is Autodesk getting “Cool”?
It was mentioned, in spite of two million free downloads and five hundred thousand sales, the Sketchbook Mobile consumer applications were not generating significant ROI: “not even enough to pay for AU”.
While they may not contribute to today’s bottom line I suspect if this is more about re-imaging Autodesk from “stodgy corporate desktop” to “mobile cool”. The desktop software is cool but the next generation of Autodesk customers, users, clients are growing up with smart mobile devices. It makes sense to meet and win them over on their turf.
SketchBook Mobile for Android was announced at AU bringing this popular app to even more users. One aspect Sketchbook I wasn’t aware of, mentioned by Carl, is the Sketchbook Flickr Group community. There was also some awesome Sketchbook work exhibited (photo right) at AU.
New Markets : The Designers Clients
It’s not just designers who need design data. Although not new several Labs projects have moved beyond providing Designer tools to supporting their clients and suppliers. Labs projects like Showroom, graduates like Autodesk Homestyler, have led this while also allowing Autodesk to experiment with cloud based render & server technologies.
A question about multi-core technology in desktop applications prompted some interesting responses. Although there are some multi-core tasks implemented (like render) Jeff mentioned the impact of extending that further may be less than commonly expected.
It will be interesting to see how applications develop on the local processor and use cloud processing. One area shown in the Technology General session was outsourcing of rendering (Labs Project Neon) and Point Cloud/Mesh model generation from photographs (Labs Photofly) using cloud processing. Couple that with the emerging GPU processing and the way our computing is processed could radically change in the near future.
Revit for Mac?
The question was if/when we’d see a native Revit for Mac? The answer was along the lines of “I can’t say” (but wasn’t never!). I really don’t care about Revit on Mac but would love to see Revit WS to allow browser and mobile access to Revit models (see this post to have your say about that).
The lasting impression
Although he is President and Chief Executive Officer of a large corporation – with it’s undoubted pressures - it was great to see Carl still loves the technology, design & creating. Quite how he gets time for projects like the Cheek-to-Cheek Bench I don’t know!
* I wasn’t at AU2009 but saw the press Q&A on web video. See AU 2010 Disclosure