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Autodesk University 2011 - "Software Everywhere"

by Kenneth Wong

On a chilly November morning in Las Vegas, Nevada, Carl Bass, president and CEO of Autodesk, stepped up to the stage at the Autodesk University (AU) 2011 conference to hail the emergence of a new approach in data management, powered by cloud computing.

"One big idea [in collaboration] is to move from a file-based system to a data-centric approach, where the information is automatically indexed and easily searched," Bass said. "It could be overwhelming to manually manage this data by passing an individual file around. It's more about empowering access to the information you really need."

"Today," he continued, "we're introducing a PLM [product life-cycle management] system that decreases complexity in managing project information. The interface is clean, is flexible. It's easy to deploy, manage, it's easy to configure."

The punchline came a few minutes later, when Bass revealed, "The big news is, none of the things I just showed you are just desktop products. What I've just shown you is software running in the cloud, running on smartphones and tablets, in iOS and Android OS, on Mac. It's even running in browsers."

Glued to the Browser for Project Collaboration

For years, Autodesk has advocated a model-based approach to building design and construction, known among practitioners as BIM (building information modeling) and IPD (integrated project delivery). The company believes the use of a single, shared digital model throughout the life cycle of a building — from initial design, simulation, and construction to maintenance — is the best way to minimize costly conflicts.

But facilitating a shared workflow among architects, mechanical/ electrical/ plumbing engineers, construction crews, and owner-operators has been a challenge, to say the least. Different software used by these disciplines sometimes causes data-exchange problems. And team members' office locations, often spread out across international time zones in different regions, add to the headache.

Scanning the horizon for promising BIM collaboration models, Autodesk set its sights on New York City-based Horizontal Systems, whose primary offering is cloud-hosted BIM, made possible through web-streaming of shared 3D content.   >>>

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The Autodesk University 2011 conference took place at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, from November 29 to December 1, 2011.
Photo: Kenneth Wong/ ArchitectureWeek Extra Large Image

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The success of Autodesk's consumer-friendly mobile app SketchBook Mobile, displayed onscreen by Carl Bass at Autodesk University, surprised even the company's own developers and product managers. Mobile apps that complement professional software titles have now become an essential part of Autodesk's strategy.
Photo: Kenneth Wong/ ArchitectureWeek Extra Large Image


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