In the 1980s the PC changed the way we think about the role of computers in our work and life. Before that, computers were personified by mainframes which were remote and mysterious devices that required their own buildings. When the PC came along, it released us from the impersonal assembly-line type environment and offered a more personal experience. Soon after that, powerful engineering workstations could do complex computations, high end graphics, and gave engineers total control.

We had entered the age of visual engineering. The old-style CAD line drawings could be now visualized as realistic 3D objects that were much more representative of physical reality. This was a huge improvement since now these images could be instantly understood by anybody from the concept designer all the way to the manufacturer. Everyone involved in the product life cycle could now look at the same pictures. The design engineer's vision was no longer an abstract concept.

And now to the present day... the mainstream adoption of the cloud has returned compute back to the remote data centers. This is a good thing because it allows engineering organizations to focus on their core competencies (which typically do not involve managing IT infrastructure). But not all cloud paradigms are created equal. You need to evaluate cloud technologies with a critical eye to see that you're not giving up any of the advances of the past few decades. One of these is the ability to use a full graphical user interface (GUI) of your engineering software in the product development process. Some clouds only offer you the ability to submit jobs to a queue and then wait for the results. This is the typical high performance computing (HPC) paradigm and works well for certain class of users.

But if you are an engineer who is used to visualizing your designs on your workstation, switching to a batch command line interface can be jarring and counterproductive.

Fortunately, engineers can get the best of both worlds on Microsoft Azure. You can get the infinite scalability of cloud, while still seeing the GUI of your simulation software with a technology such as UberCloud.

Cloud based simulation is the new world. But you don't have to lose the advantages of the past to get the benefits of the future.

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Thomas Francis

Posted by: Thomas Francis

Thomas has broad industry experience in enterprise software, cloud and IT operations. His most recent role was as Director of Software and Cloud Strategy at Dell. While at Dell he launched multiple cloud businesses including Dell Cloud Business Applications and Dell Cloud Marketplace. Previously, Thomas has held leadership roles in various technology companies including SanDisk and Landmark Graphics, a maker of 3D seismic interpretation software. Thomas has a Masters Degree in Aerospace Engineering from UT Arlington and an MBA from UC Berkeley and is based in Silicon Valley.
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