Autodesk is quietly using Amazon Web Services to harness computing power for its desktop applications and exploring software as a service business models.
The company, best known for its simulation and computer aided drafting applications, has been posting a bevy of experiments on its Autodesk Labs site.
On July 27, Autodesk will post a technology preview for its Inventor 3-D design application. The Inventor Optimization Technology Preview will allow designers and engineers to us simulation tools from their desktops via the Web.
Grant Rochelle, director of digital simulation at Autodesk Manufacturing, says these tools will leverage Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the background. Engineers and designers are trying to ask key questions about their designs, notably whether they will bend or break and how they behave under certain conditions. "By designing Inventor into the cloud our users can consider many alternatives," said Rochelle. "These compute simulations have been restricted on the desktop due to the hardware limitations."
Autodesk's cloud experiments are all running on AWS, but Rochelle said the company has a "neutral stance" and is open to other providers. "We are seeing great performance for heavy applications," said Rochelle. "Many of our customers don't have access to that computing capacity."
Rochelle said that Autodesk plans to give the users one point of billing contact and deal with AWS in the background.
Autodesk has a bevy of AWS experiments. Among them:
- Project Neon is an online rendering service for folks that design buildings.
- Project Cumulus is a SaaS-based technology preview for design engineers and plastics specialists that use Autodesk Moldflow Insight software. Coming in the future.
- Project Butterfly is an online CAD editor.
- Project Photofly is a service that allows you to create 3D models from digital camera pictures.
"These experiments are very challenging to do without cloud computing purely because of the capacity required," said Rochelle. With the cloud we can solve pretty big problems much faster than you would on the desktop. What we get from Amazon can't be touched on the desktop.