Autodesk University kicked off its 2013 edition in typical Las Vegas fashion with flash and pizzazz. Rather than a stuffy CEO welcoming the audience, the crowd was treated to a cameo magic act by the comedy team of Penn and Teller. The duo got things rolling for Autodesk chief technology officer Jeff Kowalski who began with a quote from futurist Alvin Toffler stating "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
And this is not just a call to action for the thousands of Autodesk users seated in the Venetian Hotel's main ballroom. This was as much about Autodesk itself as it transitions all the way from a shrink-wrapped, "let's sell more licenses" kind of company to one fully immersed in delivering software as a service and building a new mantra for the age of "rented" solutions. “Now that you can rent Autodesk software, the ownership model has finally caught up to the agility of the product itself,” said Kowalski. "With an access model, you can quickly scale up and then back down; giving all of those new people the tools they need for just as long as the project lasts."
Carl Bass, CEO (at right), then stepped on stage to drive home a consistent theme throughout the opening plenary which focused on the collaboration of teams in an environment of shared resources either inside or outside the organization. Bass repeatedly called upon the audience to rethink how their organizations function in a new world of social collaboration with tools that can facilitate closer interaction and involvement in projects. "Three years ago we started to talk to you about cloud, social and mobile computing and how it would change the way we all work … What being in the cloud really means is that it’s instantly on and it’s innately mobile."
So, what does this all mean for geospatial technologist who have used Autodesk in the past for GIS projects? Let's just say that BIM is the new GIS. In speaking with Mike DeLacey, CEO of Microdesk, a long time Autodesk partner and reseller, the terms are interchangeable in an Autodesk environment. Delacey said that much of what you would want to do in a GIS environment can now be done within InfraWorks 360. DeLacey said that InfraWorks is a robust platform for entire workflows from civil engineering and road design to mapping, image visualization and 3D modeling.
There are now a suite of products supporting many aspects of infrastructure management:
- InfraWorks 360 is the tool for civil infrastructure design
- ReCap can bring real world data (e.g. lidar data) into the digital world integrating reality directly into the design process
- BIM 360 Field helps solve problems out on the job site in real time
- BIM 360 Glue is an online BIM coordination and management service
Returning to the them of collaboration, one of Bass' final comments was about his flagship product: "Autodesk 360 is like Facebook for engineers."
Photo courtesy of Autodesk
Disclosure: Autodesk partially funded travel to Autodesk University.