Geo Week News

June 20, 2012

Autodesk commits to as-built BIM, cloud


Investor meeting points to integration of 3D data capture

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. – In a presentation and Q&A session held for investors yesterday, Autodesk’s leadership laid out a vision for the future that includes an expansion of its BIM commitment to the construction industry and significant development of its cloud offerings. While 3D data capture was not given significant treatment, by emphasizing the construction process and cloud computing’s ability to handle huge datasets, Autodesk leadership sent a clear indication that there would be more support for data capture and working with 3D data acquired in the field.

“When you look at BIM 360 and Vela,” said CEO Carl Bass, referring to the recent acquisition of mobile software firm Vela Systems, “this is doing construction management at the point of the job. It’s job-site management. It’s a much broader audience than just the people doing the design.”

“I’ve been working with a company that builds airports,” said Steve Blum, senior VP, worldwide sales and services, by way of example. “They’ve moved from just the construction and design to a point where they also operate and manage the facilities after they’ve been built. We’ve been talking to them about BIM, and they talked about how they’ve brought in business unit leaders at the airports. In the past, it would have just been the design people, maybe the construction folks, but now it’s design, construction – leveraging the models – but also the personnel driving the management and operations part of the business. One person in operations was arguing that they got more value out of the model than any of the others because it’s so much better than the old 2D facilities plans of the past.”

The only way to operate those facilities in that way is to be constantly updating the model, which lends itself to laser scanning and data capture.

The mention of BIM 360, too, is significant, as it’s part of an effort on Autodesk’s part to move its offerings increasingly to the cloud, where data is not only available from any web-connected device in the world, but computing power is also theoretically “infinite.”

“I think more and more of our development efforts are going to be purely cloud-based offerings,” said Bass. “You’ll see our initiatives there.”

For those looking to bring the point cloud to the job site, this is a step in that direction, as large datasets should theoretically be available to those in the field in ways not previously possible with Autodesk products.

“We’ve already demonstrated two different ways of delivering full functionality from the cloud,” Bass said. “One is through a remoting technology, the other is by rewriting applications on a new foundation, designed to be run in the cloud and accessed form all types of devices.

“There will still be people and organizations who have issues around security and reasons for not putting stuff in the cloud, and there will continue to be desktop offerings, but the bulk will move increasingly to cloud,” he said. 

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