For thirty years AutoCAD has been the industry leader in CAD (computer aided design). Its AutoCAD software became the industry standard, known for its industry leading functionality – and high prices and protection of its intellectual property. No vendor has been tougher on unlicensed use of its software than Autodesk.
Recently the company has made a number of acquisitions. Autodesk is now a $2 billion company, making it one of the largest independent software vendors. Like many other suppliers, it has evolved its product set towards the cloud in recent years. In Autodesk’s case, this has also involved a total revamp of its own internal IT systems to ensure it can deliver on its new cloud based services.
Overseeing the changes is Autodesk’s CIO, Jeff Brzycki, who gave iTWire an extended telephone interview from the company’s HQ in San Francisco. The company has long been based in San Rafael, near the Napa Valley wine country, but now has one third of its staff in downtown San Francisco, “where the talent is.” Brzycki outlined how the internal and customer cloud strategy tie together.
“The biggest change our users see is that our products are now attracting the attention of the IT department and the CIO. Formerly they were primarily found only in the engineering or design departments, which often had their own independently managed workstations to run the software.
“As we have expanded our product range into areas like mobile and security, and as the data generated and used by our products has become increasingly cloud based, the discussion has increasingly been centred around the business value our products can deliver, and how the data and workflow are managed. That means the CIOs of our customers are increasingly involved with what we do.”
Autodesk’s cloud architecture is called Autodesk 360. A key component is PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) 360, which allows users to manage the information flow of the AutoCAD products. Another key aspect of AutoCAD’s new offering, said Brzycki, was the ability to do compute-intensive rendering in the cloud rather than on the customer’s premises. “The virtually infinite computing power of the cloud enables our customers to test the performance of multiple designs and create photorealistic renderings without tying up desktop resources.”
Underpinning the new cloud offerings are major changes in Autodesk’s own IT processes. “We’ve created an enterprise cloud service for our internal operations,“ said Brzycki. “Our product development people no longer have a separate IT infrastructure – it’s all in the cloud. We have a highly virtual environment, with web-based applications.”
Autodesk has a large data centre of its own, in Santa Clara in Silicon Valley, and also makes extensive use of Amazon’s cloud services when internal and customer demand justify it, “so we can shift the computing power to where it’s needed.”
Brzycki will be visiting Australia in the next few months to talk to CIOs of the company’s large Australian users. “Australians are innovative users of our products. I want to show these CIOs how they can leverage our technology and translate it into business value.”
Before his visit Autodesk will hold a live webinar series for CIOs from February to May.