Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
Q&A session with Carl Bass
December 6th, 2010 by Susan Smith
What will we see in terms of cost for infinite computing after it’s in place?
You have two things going on simultaneously: you have a deep curve into the climbing price of computing – computing is the only asset that’s going down in price while everything else going up. From the commercial perspective we’re shifting some of the costs from customers back to us. Generally people providing this today are not as computer intensive – like Salesforce.com.
We’re affordably doing it; you can now try AutoCAD LT running off the cloud.
Right now the spot price for cloud computing is at 3 cents an hour.
If I’ve got infinite computing available, when and where do I make the decision to use it?
We’re going to have a hybrid computing model. Because of the tablet, there is incredible computing power and you don’t need to be connected. You’ll continue to have local devices – and the cloud for compute intensive jobs. We don’t build out our own cloud, for most of them we are trying to use commoditized resources, if you need an answer within short period of time you pay more; there are some models like this. What if people are able to solve problems they were never able to solve before?
We think the cloud is a choice. Some customers no longer want the local choice, where they need power and resources; they want another choice of deployment. Choice is available to all customers. Pricing models are changing; mobile devices are putting pressure on the market. The way we can use infinite computing is by offering different models for those who only need this software two hours a month.
I’m not sure if it has any fundamental pressure on pricing in general, what pressure it does introduce is offset by greater capability. The price of fundamental resources goes down while capabilities go far up.
What kind of delivery models will you see?
You’ll see electronic software downloads rather than boxes, some people deploying through streaming, etc., and other services that purely exist in the cloud only. You’ll have a variety. We’re looking at our subscription program for people to get information on options.
What about Autodesk’s growth?
Our business without acquisitions is no better or worse than other years, we have 12-15% growth rate in 2010, and that can be changed by economic conditions and by acquisitions. We have factored in the idea of infinite computing but at a low level.
Are you addressing multicore?
We have done a lot of multicore work on our products. It works only when you’re doing a lot of the same thing, like sorting a lot of data items. Our studies show it accounts for only about 15 percent of what engineers do. That’s why the breakthrough is making the cloud available. We can run a larger analysis process across more iterations.
We have some amount of work in foundation stuff, there are some ways to do things in a multithreaded way. It’s a valuable technique, not quite as valuable in general purpose computing as you might think. We’re much more interested in what allows you to optimize an answer to a question.
What about the consumer market?
Our customers are mostly professionals, 1 percent top account for 30 percent of our revenue, 70% of customers account for other revenue. Historically we haven’t done much with consumers, SketchBook Pro is way past 2 million people who have downloaded it, and it has done amazingly well. It’s phenomenal in what it’s been able to do in terms of generating awareness. Selling SketchBook at $8.99 is not a way to make profitable business but it has done a great job of raising awareness, to understand also what people are looking for. There is a greater influence of the consumer market going back into the professional market.
We need to pay attention to the consumer market and see what is going on, such as the community that gets created around Flickr, that social community around professionals. I don’t think our business will change to become a consumer business, although we have more people coming in at the entry stage as new users and students, a feeder population, and are getting people interested in design and math.
We need tools that everyone can take advantage of.
People are more interested in moving things to mobile devices. Open source was the end of an era – commodization. There is still open source software out there successfully deployed in server based environments, but most of our software doesn’t fall into that category.