Autodesk CEO Wants to Stay Ahead of AWS in Next Cloud Battleground

  • $ 61 billion Autodesk is building a cloud API platform that will connect all of its industry tools.
  • Its CEO told Insider that all the cloud giants will compete with him as the vertical cloud market heats up.
  • Autodesk is building on its heritage as a leading software maker and on its cloud platform to be competitive.

Autodesk, the creator of the AutoCAD architectural design and drafting program, began thinking about moving to the cloud nearly a decade ago, long before many of its architectural, engineering, and architectural clients. , construction, manufacturing and media haven’t even heard of it.

Now, bolstered by the accelerating pandemic cloud adoption among these customers, the nearly forty-year-old software company is poised to boost its cloud journey. Its master plan is to make Forge, its cloud development platform, the central place for all data and workflows for its customers, regardless of the sector in which they work.

With a current portfolio of hundreds of products, Autodesk plans for $ 61 billion to combine them all into Forge over the next five years and streamline its industry solutions in three areas: AEC (an industry term for “architecture, engineering, construction ‘), Manufacturing, and media and entertainment.

“All of these environments are going to talk to each other seamlessly behind the scenes, via Forge,” CEO Andrew Anagnost told Insider. Coinciding with this transition, Autodesk announced at its annual conference last week a new cloud-based environment for multimedia and entertainment production, based on Forge.

But with bigger ambitions in cloud software, the competition is also increasing: Autodesk is a key partner and customer of Amazon Web Services, the market leader in the cloud that is expected to generate $ 59 billion in revenue this year. It also competes with AWS, which targets customers in manufacturing, construction, media and entertainment with its own industrial tools.

Dave McCann, vice president of Amazon Web Services Migration, Marketplace & Control Services, told Insider last year that the cloud giant “is increasingly thinking vertically.”

And it’s not just Amazon: All of the cloud giants, including Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, have started targeting industries for which Autodesk has long been the main software vendor. Manufacturing, for example, is one of the top industries cloud giants are looking for their next cloud customers, analysts say.

Media and Entertainment, another of Autodesk’s big markets, has just “gotten through the shock of COVID and decided that being in the cloud is a good thing,” Anagnost said.

Anagnost says Autodesk is aware of the push into its territory by cloud giants, but such competition will encourage openness and faster technological change for customers.

“I think the important thing is that we digitize these ecosystems more aggressively,” Anagnost said. “AWS is incredibly mature. Azure is aligned with a lot of what our customers do. Their reputations are professional, and these are the places where we invest. “

Still, he knows that Microsoft, the company’s other cloud partner, is rapidly evolving towards digital twins, the technology used in manufacturing to create a virtual representation of a real-world product or environment. And it won’t be the only one.

“Everyone is in the digital twin business: Microsoft will be there, AWS will be there and Autodesk will be there,” he said. “There are going to be a lot of people modernizing the existing infrastructure with bespoke digital twins, built on Azure, built on AWS, and we’ll all be competing for that business. But if you’re designing something from scratch, you’re probably going to get your digital twin from Autodesk. “

This means that Autodesk is leveraging the popularity of its existing products, like the 3D modeling tool Revit, to ensure that customers stay on Autodesk’s platform for digital twins.

And its strategy isn’t too different from what made the cloud giants so successful in the first place – Anagnost says Forge will become the “data flow layer” in all of its applications, essentially creating the basic building blocks for software that AWS, Microsoft, and Google established early on.

So, by taking a page out of the book of cloud giants, while also partnering closely with them, Autodesk hopes that it can ultimately thrive in an era that is increasingly dominated by them.

“Each of our platform providers are going to compete with us in one way or another, and we are going to compete with them in one way or another,” Anagnost said. “But you know what, they’re smart enough to be hyper focused on being great platform providers.”


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