Autodesk Ends Suites, Introduces Collections

3 Aug, 2016 By: Cadalyst Staff

AEC, product design, and M&E professionals gain one way to access a portfolio of software tools, while another is taken off the market.

On August 1, Autodesk began offering three Industry Collections — packages that make a bundle of its software solutions available through a single subscription. The Collections are available with single-user or multi-user access and include:

  • Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Collection. A building information modeling (BIM) package for building, civil infrastructure, and construction. The collection comprises 22 products and services, including Revit, AutoCAD, AutoCAD Civil 3D, InfraWorks 360, and — like the other two collections — 25 GB of cloud storage.
  • Product Design Collection. This 14-part package includes design and engineering tools for product and factory design, such as Inventor Professional, AutoCAD, and Navisworks Manage, as well as cloud-based Fusion 360.
  • Media and Entertainment Collection. A 3D animation toolset for visual effects artists and game developers. Products and services include Maya, 3ds Max, and six others.

These new subscription packages take the place of Autodesk’s Design and Creation Suites, which are no longer offered as of August 1. (New perpetual licenses for standalone products were discontinued on February 1 of this year.)

“When we introduced Suites … we really simplified the process, or so we thought,” said Carl White, senior director of business models at Autodesk. As it turned out, the tiered structure of access to applications within the Suites, which were offered in Standard, Premium, and Ultimate levels, created uncertainty about which applications were included in which package. “It actually became more confusing for our customers,” White continued. In contrast, there are no tiers within the new Collections; the only variable is the subscription length.

Subscriptions to individual software titles are still available. Autodesk states: “To complement collections and address more specialized needs, customers can subscribe to individual products or cloud services, such as simulation or data management tools.”

The March of Progress

Autodesk believes that the streamlined set of offerings, in tandem with the transition from perpetual licenses to subscriptions, will provide improved simplicity, value, and flexibility to users. “The consolidation into just three collections … benefits both Autodesk and the customer,” said White. And because moving away from perpetual licenses frees Autodesk from its annual release cycle, the company can implement updates and make changes or additions to the Collections as soon as they’re ready.

Another difference between Suites and Collections is the installation process. Whereas Suite customers had to download all products in the suite, even those they did not want to use, the Collections allow users to download just the individual products they need. A delivery and deployment desktop application is available to ease the process, and purchase dates and expiration dates can be aligned across products. “It makes it a lot easier to administer, a lot easier to get the right products downloaded and installed,” said White.

Whether customers see all these factors as benefits or not, Autodesk is fully committed to the subscription business model going forward. “It’s [a change] that all of the software industry companies are going through,” said White. “PTC’s announced the same thing, SOLIDWORKS announced they’re going to be moving to a subscription model … we’re in a subscription world now.”

The Perpetual Question

Updates for Suites are also still available for those customers who have purchased them in the past, provided they are on subscription and maintenance plans. The same is true for customers who hold perpetual licenses of single titles. “For those customers that have a perpetual license, whether it’s a license or suite, they will get the next version of the perpetual license [when it is updated],” said White. “But if they fall off, that license is frozen in time.”

White was careful to stress this point because some Autodesk competitors are “creating a little fear, uncertainty, and doubt” among perpetual license holders about the future of their purchased software. “A customer who’s on maintenance, as long as they continue to pay maintenance, will continue to get updates and they’ll always own their software,” he affirmed. 

Starting in October, customers who currently have an annual, 2-year, or 3-year subscription to Suites or individual products will have the option to move to a Collection in exchange for an “uplift fee,” White noted. That fee varies across products and support levels, but tops out around $900, he said. Those who currently have a quarterly or monthly subscription can subscribe after their current term expires. Those who hold a perpetual license cannot switch it to a Collection.

Availability and Pricing

Collections are available globally, either directly through Autodesk or from resellers. Monthly, annual, and multi-annual subscription lengths are available, with longer-term plans being less expensive over time than the shorter ones. For example, the AEC Collection costs $2,690 per year for single-user access, but $335 on a monthly basis (which totals $4,020 per year).

Shorter terms are more beneficial for customers with more volatile needs — those whose employee numbers fluctuate, or who only work with Autodesk software on particular projects, for example. “You can come and go off the software as you please,” White noted.

For customers who have been working with multiple Suites, moving to a single Collection can be less expensive, White explained. For example, a customer who had been using Building Design, Plant Design, and Infrastructure Design Suites could have all their needs covered by the AEC Collection. “You’ve just reduced your costs by two-thirds,” said White.

“The cost to start using a Collection is about one-third of what it was to outright purchase a Suite in the past,” he continued. The lower initial price of a Collection does not include the ongoing subscription fees to use the product.


About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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Re: Autodesk Ends Suites, Introduces Collections
by: cadcoke5
August 19, 2016 - 5:45pm
I am one of those who has always been adamantly against subscription. But, I am curious how the statistics are working out. What percentage of companies are willing to invest their design effort into a file type that is dependent upon a subscription to use them? Did a percentage balk at Autodesk's decision and decided to take their money elsewhere?
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