AEC Tech News (#323)

6 Dec, 2012 By: Cadalyst Staff

Autodesk and the Cloud, Part 1:
Customers 'Absolutely' Will Have a Choice

At Autodesk University 2012, CEO Carl Bass says desktop tools are not going away — for now — and users should move to online apps only if it makes good business sense.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

Will Autodesk force customers to move from desktop- to cloud-based applications in the foreseeable future? Will the cloud provide adequate security for customers' data? And who will own data stored on the cloud — the customers who create it or the company that hosts the services?

CEO Carl Bass addresses the crowd at Autodesk University 2012 in Las Vegas last week. Image courtesy of Autodesk.
CEO Carl Bass addresses the crowd at Autodesk University 2012 in Las Vegas last week. Image courtesy of Autodesk.

At Autodesk University 2012 in Las Vegas last week, the company addressed all these issues and more. In the realm of CAD-related cloud technology, Autodesk is arguably a leader, and cloud-related topics were ever present at the user conference, reportedly attended by 9,000. The company announced two new and significant cloud-based apps: Fusion 360 and FormIt; presented a 90-minute Innovation Forum titled, "The Reality of the Cloud"; and broached the topic during sessions for the media, the opening keynote address, and other presentations.

In this article, I'll update you about Autodesk's plans to move (or not to move) professional CAD-related tools to the cloud and what I think it means for customers. Stay tuned for other cloud-related updates to come. Much of the information to follow is based on the reply of Autodesk CEO Carl Bass to a question I posed during a media Q&A session at last week's AU. I recorded most of Bass's reply and have posted the original video and transcript on

All Software Is Moving to the Cloud — Or Is It?

While some users still struggle to understand that the cloud is nothing more than software hosted on the Internet (as opposed to on their local computing device), software developers such as Autodesk are moving full speed ahead into the realm of software as a service, or SaaS. Autodesk, in fact, offers an impressive and growing suite of cloud-based applications branded Autodesk 360, including tools that range from building information modeling to product lifecycle management.

But is all software moving to the cloud? Yes, in fact, it is, according to Bass. He has said as much more than once in the past, and he repeated the statement again during the media Q&A: "I think if you just think broadly, about society, you say everything is moving to the cloud. ... I do believe that everything's moving to the cloud."

But that's not the full story. Bass went on to say, "Moving down a level to Autodesk, I think we've demonstrated we're moving a lot of software to the cloud. I don't think that means everyone is moving to the cloud. ... I think there are a lot of applications that will be done on the desktop; I think there's a lot of power and capacity there that will continue to be used." Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is Cadalyst's editor in chief.

Bentley Systems Pursues Information Mobility for Infrastructure Projects

The AEC software solutions provider envisions a world where information retains its value as it moves through the project lifecycle.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

In November, Bentley Systems held its Be Inspired: Innovations in Infrastructure conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The annual event gives some of the company's customers an opportunity to share ideas, provide feedback, and showcase their best infrastructure projects. "Infrastructure is everything which is done by people and for people to improve our planet," said CEO Greg Bentley during his keynote address.

"Through infrastructure we can increase our economic capacity and throughput at the same time as we reduce our environmental footprint," said Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley at the Be Inspired conference. Image courtesy of Bentley Systems.
"Through infrastructure we can increase our economic capacity and throughput at the same time as we reduce our environmental footprint," said Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley at the Be Inspired conference. Image courtesy of Bentley Systems.

Those customers invited to participate in the event are finalists in the Be Inspired awards competition, and they travel from around the world to make their case for the most efficient, effective, and innovative applications of Bentley software. Bentley also hosted more than 80 members of the press at the conference, making it an opportune time to discuss recent company developments, including acquisitions and partnerships that will affect users in various sectors across the AEC community.

Striving for Information Mobility

The phrase of the day at Be Inspired was "information mobility," which means more than simply accessing files in multiple locations — it is the ability of information to pass through all the stages of a project lifecycle, retaining its value and usefulness throughout. It's the opposite of "information mortality," as CEO Greg Bentley called the loss that often occurs during the transfer of information from one stage to the next in the design–build–operate lifecycle. "It gets stale and old and dies in place ... you can't find it, you can't reuse it — it's a waste." Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's senior editor.

IMAGINiT Clarity for Autodesk Revit Server

First Look Review: Manage your Revit Server, projects, and team members; automate tasks; and collaborate with users in multiple locations — for a price.

By Patrick Davis

In May 2012, IMAGINiT Technologies introduced IMAGINiT Clarity and IMAGINiT Clarity LT for the Autodesk Revit Server platform. The product is designed to improve collaboration on Revit projects and provide management tools for your Revit Server farm, as well as automate cyclical tasks such as backing up files, creating PDFs, exporting DWGs, and the like, and make Revit data available to non-Revit users.

Out of the box, Revit provides tools so multiple users in a single location — connected by you — can create a central file in which multiple users can develop a model over a local area network (LAN), and can work on a single, centralized model. When project team members are in multiple locations, connecting to a central file over a wide-area network (WAN), an organization can add Autodesk Revit Server to help with worksharing across a WAN.

Both versions sit on top of Revit Server, adding another layer of functionality, security, and ease of administration. Clarity provides tools for managing and monitoring the central project file host(s) and the local Accelerators that aggregate and cache data that's transferred between the users and the host. Security tools control access to the project files — so users see only the projects they are permitted to see — and allow for multifirm collaboration, so that external partners can securely access the files that they have been assigned on your project. Task-automation tools allow you to schedule repetitive tasks, such as creating DWG and PDF files or file backups, to run automatically. System-monitoring tools help you keep an eye on the performance of the Clarity network and underlying Revit Server network infrastructure.

For the purpose of this review, my company installed IMAGINiT Clarity for Autodesk Revit Server 2013 (v2013.1). We ran Clarity for 60 days on top of our Revit Server. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Patrick Davis is a virtual design and construction manager for Atkins North America.

Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events


Introduction to Clayoo Freeforming for Rhino 5.0
December 19, 2012
11 a.m. PT
Industrial designers, architects, and jewelry designers can attend this free Novedge webinar to learn about Clayoo, which provides an interface similar to modeling by hand. Read more »

Building Innovation 2013
January 7–10, 2013
Washington, D.C.
Building Innovation 2013 is a gathering place for building industry professionals and stakeholders seeking up-to-date information on building science, technology, and ways to collaborate to improve the built environment. Read more »

RTC 2013 Australasia
May 16–18, 2013
Auckland, New Zealand
At the ninth Australasian Revit Technology Conference (RTC), attendees will be able to learn from some of the world's top instructors and industry experts, share ideas and insights with an international community, and explore the latest trends and technologies. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


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Create 3D Models with MAP-21 Requirements Using Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler
Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler, part of the Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite, Premium and Ultimate editions, is civil infrastructure software developed to enable planners, engineers, and designers to model existing infrastructure and import detailed models in order to create realistic 3D models of the environment. Read the CADspeed blog post »

DraftSight v1R2.1
First Look Review: CAD software has AutoCAD-like interface, views and edits DWG files, and is easy on the budget — that is, free. Read more »

Lunar Architecture Becomes Feasible with 3D Printing
Space may be the next frontier for construction. Read more »

Tip Guru
User Profile: A teacher at heart, Len Nemirovsky believes good things come from sharing his knowledge of AutoCAD. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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