Autodesk Shows Its Future—Democratizes Data & Tools, Obliterates Reliance on Windows


Amar Hanspal, Senior Vice President, Products, at Autodesk, led a compelling Innovation Keynote address at this year’s Autodesk University (AU 2016) held this week in Las Vegas. His talk at the highest level emphasized two major themes—Autodesk is committed to its customers’ needs in transitioning to subscription while investing in its flagship products, and secondly that Autodesk’s future products are completely democratized.

Autodesk’s Future Is Not Windows Centric—It’s Cloud and Mobile Centric

There once was a time where Autodesk meant Windows hegemony. But those days are waning fast. The push initially was Apple’s rising Mac market share but the real transformation is IT’s evolution with cloud and mobile devices. The latter is completely transforming computing as we know it.

Autodesk spoke briefly but completely about how it envisions the future of its AEC software offerings, saying, they know customers are wondering when they are going to build “Fusion for AEC”? It’s not a matter of just putting Revit in the browser—“that’s easy,” said Hanspal. Instead, the future beyond Revit is about “integrating, design, engineering, fabrication and other applications into a common data environment.”

01 – Amar Hanspal of Autodesk showing the audience Project Quantum. Architosh has seen some of this technology earlier this year in another form. At its core it is web-cloud centric. In this view (screen capture from video) Hanspal is showing the workspace of the structural engineer. See the image below for the workspace for the fabricator.

Project Quantum is about “evolving the way BIM works in the era of the cloud.” Instead of discreet applications with their own data formats and siloed users, Project Quantum is meant to present the industry with a series of connected “work spaces” that are woven together into the “common data environment.”

“Instead of binding data and applications,” says Hanspal, “into one giant experience, we are separating them. Now data and application logic can live anywhere, independent of each other.” Hanspal called this a fundamental shift in how we make things.

02 - In project Quantum the fabricator's workspace looks very similar with common UI/UX format but different tools, all accessing a common data environment.

02 – In project Quantum the fabricator’s workspace looks very similar with common UI/UX format but different tools, all accessing a common data environment.

With Project Quantum the user gets their own workspace with the tools they need for the use functions that fit their professional definitions. The architect, the engineer, the contractor and the fabricator all will have workspaces that make sense for them. Hanspal shows a case study where an architect was making a client-driven change to a curtain wall in one workspace with tools that fit that workload, while the engineer had access to the same data in his workspace, while a third workspace was being utilized by the fabricator of the curtain wall, implementing their workflow. All of this happens, according to the vision, using the same shared data environment.

Windows Becomes Just An Average Platform Citizen

Autodesk did not speak specifically about the Windows platform by name, but this is what happens in the future world of Project Quantum. The user is considered from the perspective of needing the freedom and flexibility to access their data at any time, from any device; you access your workspace and the common data environment from multiple sources, the most important being the web browser and the leading mobile platforms.

This doesn’t mean Windows is dealt some kind of severe blow. The truth is Windows runs on all kinds of hardware and offers the world a wider spectrum of hardware choices on the desktop and mobile laptop form factors. But what Autodesk’s future really does liberate platform dependencies. And that’s a good thing for everyone—especially the end user.

Editor’s Note

Architosh hopes to get a deeper look at Project Quantum soon. We have heard for well over a year that Autodesk was looking at ways of reinventing the future of how the AEC software pipeline works. This week was their biggest public showing of some of the workings previously under wraps.

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