Can Autodesk Find Success in the Cloud? It Depends, Say VARs

Nicholas Mukhar

April 25, 2011

3 Min Read
Can Autodesk Find Success in the Cloud? It Depends, Say VARs

It’s no secret that Autodesk, if not completely sold on a heavy cloud computing strategy, is at least toying with the idea. In July 2010, ZDNet reported that the 3D design and and engineering software company was conducting cloud computing “experiments” using Amazon Web Services (AWS). Word of an Autodesk cloud offering surfaced again in December 2010 when the North Bay Business Journal said that Autodesk was moving “cautiously and steadily toward cloud computing.” The Journal’s story included Autodesk Vice President of Suites and Web Services Andrew Anagnost talking about the value of the cloud: “Using the cloud we can give 20 different options showing how a design will function in the real world, in just hours instead of days. It’s a very powerful advance. From a user’s point of view it gives access to almost infinite computing power.”

The company isn’t trying to hide its cloud efforts. A simple check of Autodesk Labs reveals information about Project Neon, Point Cloud Feature Extraction for AutoCAD and Civil 3D and Point Cloud for 3DSMax and 3DSMax Design. So the Autodesk Channel Summit 2011 in San Francisco presented the perfect opportunity to find out how VARs felt about an Autodesk cloud offering and how they felt their customers would respond. Their answers, I discovered, depend on which channel partner you ask.

Mark Wagasky, vice president of sales at Applied Software, which was recently named the Autodesk 2011 North American Reseller of the Year, noted Autodesk’s current on-premise software model is working well for his company but believes there is an opportunity for a cloud offering.

“In many ways this is the perfect market for the cloud,” said Wagasky, who has been with Applied Software for 2 1/2 years and hears regular requests for a cloud offering from customers in the Southeastern United States. Wagasky noted several key benefits that could come with a cloud offering: not having to install software, cost savings, and collaboration. “The architect that we’re working with might already be in the cloud,” he said, in describing how Autodesk and VARs could use the cloud to better communicate with clients. Still, he noted, the demand for the cloud isn’t overwhelming, which Wagasky attributes to a lack of knowledge. “A lot of clients are not taking advantage of the cloud. But they will like it if they see the advantage.”

Grapho Software CEO Luiz Sasada sees another reason for the lack of cloud demand among Autodesk clients: lack of capability. Grapho has been Autodesk’s main channel partner in Brazil for the past 25 years, and Sasada has been at the head of the relationship for the entire quarter-century. He’s seen Grapho grow with Autodesk in employee size, portfolio size and number of offices. “It’s too early for the cloud in Brazil,” he said. “It’s not the reality in the region with the lack of Internet infrastructure. The capacity to understand and use technology is an issue for our clients so we cannot change so fast.”

So the need for an Autodesk cloud solution varies based on the regions it serves. To cater to all needs, Autodesk will have to find a happy medium between offering a cloud-based solution to clients such as Applied Software’s target in the Southeastern United States and still maintain its on-premise software for international clients such as Grapho Software’s in Brazil.

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