The Key to the Cloud for CAE is Elasticity

There are a number of changes and advancements going on in CAE. No other has had more controversy and impact than the introduction of the cloud. Many new vendors have sprung onto the market to offer an attractive alternative to desktop CAE. In addition, some of the traditional CAE vendors are providing alternative offerings to leverage the power of the new paradigm that the cloud brings to the table.


The cloud brings to the table the potential for Infinite Computing. Infinite in comparison to what we have on desktops and servers today. Infinite in the idea that the offering is elastic. We are able to use what we need when we need it. It’s more than simply a change in technology and workflow, its around the impact the business model brings to users. When we look at the number one reason that users have reported why they don’t simulate more. It almost always comes down to time. There is a finite amount of time and resources available and we tend to make due with what we have available to us. What if we removed barriers of computation, opened the doors to allowing you to explore? Automate the process of optimization?

That is what the cloud brings to the table. Yes, it can likely solve larger models. Yes, it can provide access to more physics. But, the pure power of the cloud is around elasticity. Elasticity breaks down some of the common barriers we face around Design Exploration.

In a recent survey we conducted, it was listed that engineers are running 4-5 simulations per design. When we probed how many design changes were made based on the simulation results, the answers ~2-3. What if you could do 10x more in the same amount of time. What if you could simply double your throughput?

No question that there are some barriers to adoption. But, all of the security discussions aside. Are you looking for access to more computing power? Are you content with the amount of simulations you are able to do today? If not, what are you doing about it?

Autodesk Simulation: The Power of Community

The landscape of the CAE Simulation market has changed quite a bit over the last ten years. We went from ~15 major CAE vendors to just about a handful. Some of are focused solely on CAE Simulation and many others are part of a larger PLM organization. The interesting thing is that ten years ago PLM and Simulation were on opposite ends of the spectrum.

In addition to PLM, there are a number of other words that have entered the CAE Simulation space – cloud, upfront, automation, mobile, optimization, multi domain, systems simulation – just to name a few. So all the vendors are busy differentiating their offerings by working to advance the technology, offering alternative business models and providing a portfolio of solutions rather than point solutions.


But, the thing that really defines a product offering and vendor is the Community it serves. If we take the the name Community and take a minute to ponder, it means different things to different people. To some, it means a sense of belonging, commitment and camaraderie. To others, it means a sense of security, stability and a place to go to for help. To others, its a place to have a voice. Some of these voices are strong and demanding. Some of these voices are evangelical and committed. But one thing remains constant, providing tools and outlets for which the community can interact in person or virtual is vital.

To us on the vendor side, the word Community is the lifeblood of what we do. Without a passionate, vibrant community we really do not have much to measure ourselves by….long term. We can measure ourselves by revenue, # of seats, # of subscribers. However, I would argue all of these measurements are short term and are often by-products of a strong Community. Those of us on the product side, measure ourselves based on the pulse of the Community.


At Autodesk, we appreciate that our Community is globally diverse and require different ways to engage with one another as well as with us. I am proud to announce a relaunch of the SimHub. This is a micro site dedicated to the Autodesk Simulation Community. It’s the go-to place that our Community can access the following:

  • Discussion Forums – vibrant forums that are monitored by Autodesk employees as well as power users of all disciplines
  • Idea Stations – an area where users can submit their ideas and others can vote on the priority
  • Simulation TV – one of a kind video channel that are a mixture of training, tips and tricks and industry presentations
  • Learning Center – self paced tutorials, videos and training material
  • Events global local user group meetings and virtual live webinars
  • Resources – a collection of white papers and other industry reports
We are passionate about our Community. Did you know we have held over 30 user group meetings in the US over the last few months? Were you aware that we launch 6-10 Simulation specific Autodesk Labs Projects a year? Did you know that we focus a portion of each release to the ideas posted and voted on the Idea Station? If not, I encourage you to take a look at the site and learn more. I have had the pleasure of meeting a large number of you in person and interact with an even larger group virtually. But, our work is long way from being finished. Our team is focused on taking our products in the direction that serves the broader Community. When you get some time, need some help or find a chance to meet the team, please take a look at the new site and let us know what you think.

The Power of Visualization in CAE Simulation

The end result in any CAE Simulation revolves around conveying our results graphically. Whether it be a 2D graph or a high fidelity 3D visual image. Historically, in Simulation, we tend to be on the conservative side as we are focused on accuracy and the integrity of the results. But, wondering – should we push for higher fidelity realism in our visualization tools. Is there a place for it?

Check out the below video using Autodesk Simulation CFD and VRED.

The interesting thing is when I show this sort of thing to customers they seem to love it. But, to be honest, the results presentations I have sat through over the years are far from inspiring.

So, the question on this fun #SimulationFriday heading into summer. How important is it to have realistic visualization for simulation at your finger tips? Would it help you broaden the acceptance and “stickiness” of simulation within your organization? Are we content with the days of simple 2D plots and graphs? How about mobile, are we using phones and tablets to present results? Curious to hear what people think?

Autodesk Nastran added to a Simulation Mechanical Update

Autodesk has recently acquired certain assets of NEi Software. This is a big move toward a broader strategy that will unfold in the coming months. However, we decided to not make a formal announcement until we are ready to unveil specific parts of the overall plan.

Step one in the plan is to provide our Autodesk Simulation Mechanical customers with the best of both worlds. So, we posted a product enhancement to subscription customers that includes the industry proven Autodesk Nastran solver.

What’s new in the enhanced Simulation Mechanical:

  • Integrated Autodesk Nastran solver
  • Autodesk Nastran Editor for expanded workflows and results viewing
  • New meshing and selection options
  • Surface force distribution enhancement

There are four native Nastran analysis types supported in this release. They include:

  • Static Stress with Linear Material Models
  • Modal Analysis
  • Linear Buckling
  • Steady-state Heat Transfer
Here is a quick demo showing the entire workflow done in the Simulation Mechanical Interface and running the Autodesk Nastran solver.

The above analysis types support the full workflow in the Simulation Mechanical interface. However, users have access to the entire Nastran solver. For any advanced analyses not supported in the Sim Mechanical interface, they can use the Autodesk Nastran Editor or any other 3rd party tools.

There are many more things to come in this space. I am interested to hear what people think and where they would like us to take this technology.