James Staten of Forrester Research spoke about the cloud at the recent Autodesk University in Las Vegas. He made a case for the cloud by saying that “clouds are more secure than you are.”
Focus – clouds can concentrate their whole security team on securing the one app.
Exposure – when cloud outages happens every customer gets upset and they end up in New York Times. When your email system goes down it doesn’t show up in the papers. Because of that risk those creating the cloud invest heavily in the best security minds out there. Every one of those was given a job offer by Amazon, Microsoft, etc. at very high salaries. “If anyone breaks into my account I want to know about it. The cloud is concerned with extreme audits, a security expert, who they hire, who gets into the data center, whether they are making sure malware is up to date,” said Staten.
Multitenancy – there is far more encryption in the cloud model and it is far more difficult to see that another customer is there to alleviate concerns of privacy such as Pepsi and Coke using the same cloud service, for example.
Director of Professional Services at IMAGinIT Kevin Breslin said at Autodesk University 2011 this week that they are seeing an uptake of Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler in their work as consultants.
Customers are using it a lot in civil engineering for conceptual design. They can put in roads, move and change things around and tap into their geospatial data and combine that with data in Autodesk Map and Civil 3D. Breslin said the visualization/analysis tool can handle large amounts of data.
Sustainable infrastructure is needed to replace the $41 trillion worth of infrastructure that needs to be replaced or retrofitted around the world.
According to Paul McRoberts , vice president of the Infrastructure Product Line Group AEC Solutions at Autodesk, there is only about $22 trillion available to remedy this situation. How is this to be accomplished?
Autodesk’s Infrastructure Design Suite 2012, Autodesk’s BIM for Infrastructure solution, combines the tools needed to plan, design, build and manage infrastructure. Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler, a new product, represents the expansion of Autodesk’s BIM portfolio and is geared around the idea of being able to leverage existing information such as GIS data and any kind of disparate data: lidar data, raster and photogrammetry; and being able to layer this information in and to create a representation of existing conditions. Infrastructure Modeler can compare conceptual models that can be used for new proposals to help customers and stakeholders understand what the future infrastructure is going to look like.
In a Webex this week Amar Hanspal, senior vice president, Platform Solutions and Emerging Business for Autodesk talked about the 2012 portfolio which will soon be available.
Because customers are successful using multiple products, Autodesk is not offering single products in this release, but rather suites of products for all kinds of design. He called it an “integrated software approach.” A lot of discussion was spent on artists and production facilitators in the entertainment industry, a big customer of Autodesk products.
The suites cost “a few hundred dollars more than an individual software program” but offer more in terms of interoperability and the entire suite will be offered on a USB thumb drive.
Here is a list of the various suites:
(inc. AutoCAD, Showcase, Sketchbook Designer, Mudbox, 3ds Max Design and Alias Design)
One would think that a large software company such as Autodesk would have more to do than to ferret out eBay sellers who are selling their software. But that obviously is not the case:
“The case of Timothy Vernor, the man Autodesk tried to stop selling their software on eBay, has had another day in court.
Vernor is a full-time eBay seller, usually of comic books. But in 2005 he found a copy of AutoCAD design software at a garage sale – software which usually sells for about $4,000.
Shortly after he put the CD on eBay the auction house received a lawyer’s letter from Autodesk alleging infringements of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. eBay pulled the auction but Vernor complained and eBay, and Autodesk, eventually backed down.
But when Vernor chanced upon some more Autodesk CDs, apparently at another garage sale, they again hit him with DMCA notices.”
On May 21stAutodesk announced their Q1 fiscal 2010 results, reporting revenues of $426 million, a decrease of 29 percent compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2010.
This announcement seemed to rock not only the AEC industry where Autodesk is #1, but also the GIS and MCAD industries as well and, in fact, every industry that relies on Autodesk products. The revenues reflect what is happening globally – other technology providers also report significant decreases, but the drop of revenues for a bastion of the industry marks a change that has appeared imminent in recent months.
“Our revenue results for the quarter continue to reflect the global economic downturn, which is impacting our business on almost every front,” said Carl Bass, Autodesk president and CEO in the press release. “We made significant progress in our continued effort to improve our cost structure and ongoing efficiencies, which resulted in lower than expected operating costs for the quarter and greater than expected earnings per share and cash flow.”
Back at AU last November, Bass had stated in a press conference the company has $1 billion in assets and no debt, well positioned to weather economic strife. Bass said that Autodesk produces 150 products, most of which generate almost no revenue. Selling them standalone is not a good idea, and the company is looking into bundling some of them. This was a red flag that the company would have to trim the fat — whatever that fat might be.
A scale back was to be expected. Autodesk continues to make acquisitions, but they are also selling some of their assets: for example, the sale of the assets of LocationLogic to TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. ( TCS) for approximately $25 million. In terms of business, according to a recent article, substantially all of the LocationLogic revenue stream is recurring service revenue from hosted infrastructure software and location-based applications.
One can only guess that these decisions weren’t made lightly; looking at the numbers, products that are not earning sufficient revenue or which might present significant challenges in integration may be let go or drop by the wayside.
Already eager to bring attention to the wavering numbers of the Q1 results, some competing vendors have suggested that Autodesk customers may want to jump ship and move to their less popular products in an I’ll-show-you move. To me, this doesn’t make sense. Most Autodesk shops are heavily invested in Autodesk products, not just one or two seats of AutoCAD but numerous products that are well integrated with the primary bodybuilder, AutoCAD.Customers may be open to trying free software from the less expensive, less well known vendors, but they’ll be hard pressed to get their systems folks to change. Fact is, competing software companies are also feeling the pinch so customers may feel safer sticking with the known quantity.
It’s difficult to tell at this point how much this will affect the GIS industry. Autodesk provides some valuable geospatial products that complement their CAD offerings, but it is not the #1 GIS provider.