Autodesk is set to announce something big this year at Autodesk University on 11/29/2011 regarding it’s Vault product line and PLM strategy. Sounding like a headline ripped from Steve Jobs mouth, they have have tagged the announcement as an “Everything Changes” event.
From Products to Projects… from Bikes to Buildings… from PLM to BIM…
Autodesk will forever improve the way you manage your business processes and workflows when we unveil a modern, zero deployment solution that makes collaboration, data, and lifecycle management accessible to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Watch the teaser video here.
Following up on the teaser announcement, Rob Cohee (@robcohee) Technical Evangelist for Autodesk has a new blog post titled “What’s business critical to you?“. In this blog post, Rob lays the ground work for a new PLM strategy for Autodesk without revealing too many of the details.
So what’s the big shift then? What’s the biggest difference that I’m seeing? Back to the looking at the design information through different lenses analogy… Access to even more of the information. That’s what I’m seeing as one of the biggest differences and one that is becoming more and more critical to our customers business. Our customers need the right level of access to the right piece of information
So what could all this mean? I predicted a cloud based Vault way back on March 31st. This post was obviously taking advantage of April fools day, but not really. After working with Vault as far back as version 4 the obstacles for upgrading from one version to the next, keeping up with the required server hardware, maintaining SQL licenses, applying patches and maintaining backups has sometimes been daunting. If Autodesk reveals a cloud based solution to replace your existing Vault IT infrastructure, this could be a very good thing for many companies who find the current Vault application costly and burdensome on their IT departments. A cloud based Vault solution would allow Autodesk to maintain the servers, software, patches, upgrades and backups. Being a web based application would also allow for easier access for remote workers, 3rd party contractors and suppliers.
Of course, you are always going to have those companies that absolutely, positively have no desire to store their proprietary design data off site, out of their complete control. This is going to be hard sell to many companies who require this type of security.
This cloud based business model fits into the current trend of outsourcing your IT worries to the people that know it best. Look at what Microsoft is doing with Office 365(@office365). Allowing Microsoft to host your Exchange server email, Sharepoint data and other critical information takes the task of updates, patches and backups off the shoulders of your IT department and allows them to focus on your other non-commodity IT infrastructure and services.
So if it’s not a cloud based vault, what else could it be? It’s obvious from the posts that they want to extract more data from your designs to provide better business intelligence to your organization. I can see this as bringing Vaulted design data information in a form that would apply to who needs to see it and when. This could be a intranet web based application along the lines of Sharepoint. I’ve always thought a web based dashboard for getting a snaphot of where a project is at in the design cycle would be an awesome thing. Vault Professional brings some of this together but lacks the easy to follow interface that I think most organizations outside of engineering can relate to.
One thing for sure that I can agree with and hope Autodesk does too, as Scott Moyse (@ScottMoyse) pointed out in this tweet:
Hope this means Value goin 2 b added 2 our recent significant investment in
# AutodeskVault Pro, instead o devaluing it
Whatever Autodesk announces, we want the feeling our Vault would be moving forward and not hitting the reset button. Managers hate reset buttons. Productivity hates reset buttons.
I’m really looking forward to the 11/29 news. Vault has been a back burner type product for Autodesk for some years now and I’m happy to see it getting some of the spotlight it deserves.