Autodesk aims to take 3D design, engineering to the cloud

Autodesk is preparing to launch cloud solutions of its own as its executives see possibilities to revolutionize the design space.

Design is a sector where cloud computing has the potential to revolutionize multiple industries, according to Autodesk, the 3D design software firm and maker of AutoCAD.

Cloud computing has become "completely pervasive, totally accepted and people don't really think twice about these things now," explained Andrew Anagnost, vice president of suite, web services and subscriptions for Autodesk.

The cloud opens up new possibilities, Anagnost posited, especially by "helping people make better decisions about the things they're designing."

Anagnost argued this breaks down by three major factors: visualization, optimization and collaboration.

Starting with visualization, Anagnost reasoned that the cloud can help people "communicate in photo-realistic, high-fidelity ways that they weren't able to do before." For example, architects can convey a portfolio of 3D models of in real-time to customers who want to know exactly what the finished project should look like. Small to medium-sized architecture firms probably couldn't have afforded to demonstrate that before, mainly due to compute farm resources. but with the cloud, they can spit out and send images to customers to view in 360 degrees online or let them print on their own.

Optimization comes in as an opportunity for designers to generate and experiment with multiple simulations simultaneously to deliver multiple options to customers. As for collaboration, the platform can present information that is relevant to a particular user rather than what is not and filter out what they don't need to see. Certain features and details to a project are going to vary in necessity between mechanical and electrical engineers to civil engineers or architects.

"These are the things that we'll be putting particular emphasis on in the next year as we roll out our cloud offerings in a commercial portfolio," Anagnost said.

The earliest forms of these cloud solutions can be seen in Autodesk Labs, but these offerings will be launched in a few weeks. Autodesk's cloud product will be based partially on internal servers that are designed to scale as well as Amazon Web Services, as Anagnost explained that is the "most cost-effective and reliable way" in going from a few thousand users to millions.

The key here is that customers shouldn't know the difference between the two, as Autodesk wants to maintain a seamless image on data security integrity, user experience and overall cost.