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    Autodesk Aims for the Cloud

    by Kenneth Wong

    You didn't actually have to be at Mandalay Bay, the site of Autodesk University (AU) 2010, to discover Autodesk's big gamble. Away from the Las Vegas strip, away from the casinos and hotels, Autodesk is setting up shop in the cloud.

    Autodesk Labs, a public portal where the company previews many of its R&D initiatives, provides a window into the company's strategy.

    Have an AutoCAD drawing (a DWG file) that you want to render into a photorealistic image? You can upload it to the server on Project Neon at Autodesk Labs, and collect it when you're notified the image is ready.

    Want to create a 3D model of an existing building? No need to bring expensive survey equipment to the site. Just bring your digital camera. You can upload a series of photos of the same object from various angles to Project Photofly, then let the software analyze and identify the shapes and geometry.

    Once Photofly has executed its algorithm, you'll receive a 3D scene comprising points, which you can view and edit in Photo Scene Editor (included with Photofly).

    Not a fan of traditional project management tools? Try the social media-inspired Blue Streak, which lets you use an instant messenger-like window to collaborate with remote team members.

    Using the internet's ubiquitous connectivity to monitor progress and synchronize files is not a novel idea. And RenderCity, for example — virtually a living fossil in Internet terms — has provided technically advanced remote rendering services on a small scale for more than ten years, while Autodesk's own Green Building Studio has built around a server-side approach since its inception (at Geopraxis) years ago.

    But for the industry heavyweight, promoting the server-side approach — with front-line applications tapping into the power of remote computing clusters to perform calculations and visualizations — is a significant and timely experiment.   >>>

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    The Autodesk University 2010 conference took place at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, from November 29 to December 2, 2010.
    Photo: Shaan Hurley Extra Large Image

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    Cloud computing was a central theme of the AU 2010 general-session keynote addresses.
    Photo: Robin Capper/ RobiNZ CAD Blog Extra Large Image


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