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Sep 17, 2012


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Dave Ault

What would be of interest is the complexity of the jobs allowed for the count or are all jobs created equal for the purpose of counting? My bet would be for a data cap somewhere and that brings me to this point. For around $10,000 you get a Dell mini supercomputer with astounding capabilities for FEA and rendering which seem to be the current sweet spots for mulitcore useage and which utilizes the Cuda tech for the GPU. The first out of the box is always clunkier and more expensive thatn what follows so I think it is reasonable for there to be greater capabilities at a lower cost within a year.

Now this will sit in your facility and have no internet related problems with throughput or security (yes that dirty little cloud cuss word) and for the price of one years useage be available for three years. I am basing that upon how long my replacement cycles seem to be. NO data caps from your ISP or from benign corporations like Autodesk who no doubt would never ding you extra for high data uses compared to the norm.

Ah yes, the cloud. That wonderful vehicle for corporations to get you and hold you and charge you. Except that other corporations are building the casket for this cloud model with super computing power cheap enough to sit on most desks in the CAD world and do I bet 95% of what will be needed in a timely fashion. I dare say that the majority of companies that have large complex analysis or renderings also have the wherewithal to but the more expensive models to sit in their facilities and not go on the cloud and save money and time to.

Don't you just love the deliberate ambiguities from cloud vendors about exact details and the lack of any real ROI true life studies where they take a desktop or server and directly compare it to a cloud doodad with same files useage? And I mean all costs as these cloud guys never cover the ancillary costs associated with their services from tech and IT support to the cost of data over the ISP's and any special gear needed to make this work on the customers end.


Ralph Grabowski

Another point of ambiguity is the "cloud unit," which sounds to me like Microsoft Points. You buy units at a cost of $1 each, but then different kinds of jobs use different kinds of units. I think each rendering is five units; FEA would be more per job.


So what happens when you you screw up a boundary condition and realize that job you sent will end up with a rigid body motion error? That's a rough way to quickly lose $30. Also is there no limit to model complexity?

Ralph Grabowski

FEA users recommend running rough analysis locally until you know that the model will not fail, and then use the cloud only for detailed analyses. Paying $30 for each bungled model is a lot.

Your question about complexity is a good one, since it represents CPU/GPU time for which Autodesk is being charged by their cloud provider.

Ralph Grabowski

I heard back from Autodesk on the question asked by CW:

A simulation job is defined as
meshing and solving a simulation model (using Autodesk Simulation 360)
for one set of boundary conditions regardless of the size or type of
the simulation model.

Kevin E.

Again, the sky is falling.

You still have the choice. You can buy simulation as desktop application and run it in your walls. Or you can choose to do cloud based simulation.

You don't have to look at this as one or the other. It can be both.

As far as security, did you check your online bank balance in the last week?

Ralph Grabowski

I did check several of my bank accounts online this morning, but the "checking your bank account online" argument is bogus, as you should know by now. Banks and credit cards refund fraudulent losses.

Just last week, one of my banks called to say they detected fraudulent $600 and $450 online purchases made on my credit card. My cost? Zilch, because they guarantee the security of my online transactions.

Companies like Autodesk and Microsoft, on the other hand, promise to not guarantee anything; in the case of Microsoft, they recently give themselves the right to reuse anything you store online with them, in any manner of their choosing.

Dave Ault

Interesting comment and time will tell if the sky is falling or if it is fraud, gouging and naivety rising to meet it.

Derrek Cooper

Guys.. Really good comments. In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm on he Simulation product team at Autodesk. But, I can provide some insight.

Keeping in mind that this is breaking new ground for many of our customers, we understand there will be some skepticism. But I can honestly say, we're wide open to the feedback.

To some of the questions above. A job is a job, which means a completed mesh + solve. NO size limit. The initial annual fee is a subscription to the service (software lic, support etc) as well as the "jobs". You can add additional jobs to the 120 original for ~ $10/job.

Valid point on the $10k dell machine, but this doesn't account for the unlimited licensing and elasticity that the SIM360 service offers. For example, imagine you wanted to run a DOE on 3-4 design alternatives. Traditional desktop software would be costly and take along time deepening on how many licenses you have. The SIM360 service allows you to run them simultaneously and it burns the appropriate job count.

For customers that want to explore even more, the unlimited offering is really attractive.

This is a big shift in how we think about how we design and engineer. Many are feeling the pain that they are jumping at he opportunity. Others will evolve with time. Some may never make the switch. We have some creative way to have the best of all worlds

Martyn Day

The other thing that's a bit weird for the online service is that I hear you have to buy these cloud credits from your dealer. It's an online cloud service... but you have to buy credits to use it from a dealer? Seems an oxymoron??

I agree with Derek to a point as these analysis firms charge per core, you never own the software and pay yearly. I think there will be many small firms that this will benefit as they don't need to outlay a huge amount on in house hardware and software. Then there's the high-end who could go unlimited and will be hammering the hell out of autodesk's servers for considerable cost saving (if their software is as good as the high-end specialists).

It will be interesting to see how the use of analysis changes with the cloud and how the established big guns combat Autodesk's innovation here.


Ralph Grabowski

I look forward to seeing if Autodesk's cloud computing resource are infinite, as their marketing spin puts it, or if it does have a limit (as reality would dictate).


In my opinion, cloud computing cost should be less. Else it's ideal to buy a high end desktop pc and run infinite trials and reach the optimum solution. Else the concept of 1 computer = 100 dollar ; to; 100 computer = 1 dollar job processing cost model does not work

Jeff Waters

Seems obvious to me that doing a big DOE (particularly for CFD) will quickly run out of calendar runway if using a single high-end PC.

If you need to do that everyday, then buying a cluster and the software to run on it could make sense. If not, the cloud is a no-brainer.

Lots of cloud/saas pricing models out there, and I'm mystified as to how Autodesk can decouple price from consumption (ie, cpu-hours per job) and make that a workable biz model. Could be they are prepared to use it as a loss leader to create the market.

I want to hear from actual customers who've tried it and get their perspectives.

Steve Johnson

Anybody who uses the words "infinite" or "unlimited" to promote online services should receive a wedgie from Bob the Dinosaur.

As for Autodesk being "wide open to feedback" in relation to its Cloud push, words fail me. Bob? Bob? Got another one for you here.

Dave Ault

Insofar as these software companies charging per core I wonder how this will relate to the new integration of GPU tech. They can hardly charge for 190+ GPU's and get away with it so I have to think there is a decent prospect that analysis could work for most jobs off of a couple of CPU's and a ton of GPU's on a desktop.

Derek, all things considered you guys I hear are already establishing cloud units so being realistic what you are really saying is that this is a temporary loss leader to get people in and then when the time is right start the price increases. Just like iPhones and unlimited downloads quickly went away so will your initial offering here. You can't possibly expect me to believe that the analysis of a wing structure on an Airbus or Boeing is going to cost the same as one for a bolt even though that is what you said.

This takes me back to one of my principle gripes about all of you cloud vendors. Pricing half truths and promises we know you can't and don't intend to keep and never a provable real world ROI study. All your commentary did for me was to prove again that today the most consistent products coming from the cloud are smoke and mirrors.

Dr Julien de Charentenay

The Autodesk offering at $30/job is very attractive - I have been looking at cloud computing solutions for a variety of purpose (CFD analysis in particular). Typical cloud computing prices are around $0.2-0.3 per CPU hours, but once software licenses, settings up and maintaining cloud system are included, costs are a lot higher.

One of the aspect that has not been mentioned is what resources are available for each job. In other words: how long will the job take to run? Is there a queue system?

This being mentioned I think that Autodesk is doing a great job of trying to popularize the use of Cloud resources for analysis and are, in my opinion, building themselves a market.

Andrè Raison

Only the future will tell what is the real politics of ADSK... and this will be when they have many users on their net. Also I think is not correct forcing users to the cloud (even those who do not want to) as they seem to be their future plans for all their products!

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