Home > CIOs driving innovation - Moving manufacturing to the cloud

CIOs driving innovation - Moving manufacturing to the cloud

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LAST year an interview with Autodesk's CEO in Tech Crunch magazine got a lot of attention from those who follow CAD news. 

"I'd say two to three years from now, every one of our products will be used online," Carl Bass said in April 2012. 

"The only way to use them will be online." 

Whether or not he was speaking literally was argued on many a message board, and whether or not he was, there's no doubting the company's focus on cloud computing as both massively useful for its users and of huge importance to its own future. 

"Autodesk over the years has really established a name in a space that was primarily desktop PC-oriented," the company's CIO, Jeff Brzycki, told Ferret

"It was client-based software that ran in the customer's premise, that was typically because it was graphically-oriented and really was focussed on trying to sort of - the tag line for the company is to helping people experience their idea before they're real. 

"It really meant that there needed to be a significant amount of computer horsepower available to the engineers and architects when they were dealing with models that had any scale or size." 

An example Brzycki likes to use when highlighting the benefits of the cloud to engineers and designers is in terms of simulation exercises. 

If you have a two-week timeframe on a project, and your current level of computing muscle allows you to draw and test one model per day, then in a two-week timeframe you can get through ten simulations and pick the best of them. 

"With the cloud you can actually change the paradigm by which you're designing," explained Brzycki. 

"What would it look like if you could throw 10,000 simulations simultaneously into the cloud and in a matter of one day you pick the best out of 10,000 as opposed to waiting two weeks and you pick the best out of 10? 

"So it's a much more efficient and effective use of computer horsepower and you're going to have a dramatic impact, not only in time to market, but also on the aspect of quality and the ability to severely test out different designs before you incur the cost and overhead of prototyping and having an engineering or manufacturing line gear up for production." 

And the company hasn't just been talking the talk. In a recent interview Brzycki said that Autodesk had recently started running the company's internal operations on an enterprise cloud. 

"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," Brzycki told IT Wire. 

With the shift to the cloud in recent years - which has made available computing horsepower that could be expensive to purchase (for example in a rendering or computational farm) - as well as the changes to the range of Autodesk's product suite, Brzycki has noticed the CIOs and senior IT staff of clients become more and more involved with what Autodesk offers. 

"My perspective is that the CIOs must get involved with these solutions," he said.  

"Because at the end of the day who has enterprise-wide responsibility for things like the devices that are connecting to the network, the security of the intellectual property that might be within their environment, making sure that - in a public company - they can be accountable and held responsible to external reporting requirements. 

"So we really think that the opportunity is to engage this cohort of peers in a way that really can put Autodesk in a new light. One that's much more in line with where we expect to go in the future.  

"That's the background of the program that we're running and we're going to be doing in a couple here in Australia." 

Brzycki is offering live webinars on the topic of CIOs enabling innovation within companies up until May, and then visiting Australia shortly after that. 

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