What Autodesk Fusion 360 means for PLM?

It is officially happened yesterday. Autodesk announced Fusion 360 – cloud based CAD software. Fusion leverages cloud tech to provide the ability for design team to work anywhere. It shines by the ability to support multiple platforms including OS X. It is available for $25/ month and you can try it for 90 days for free. The number of publication about Fusion 360 is trending. The few articles that really stood out to me are Develo3D and SolidSmack.

Al Dean of Develop 3D in his Autodesk Fusion 360 is go article provided a good review of functions. The following passage is the my favorite:

Let me repeat. It’s $25 a month. Twenty five dollars. A month. Whether you’ll get access as part of an Inventor subscription isn’t clear. But that represents massive value for money. This is the first time that a vendor has announced pricing for cloud-based design tools. The Dassault guys have had Catia running on the cloud for some time, but haven’t released it because the first to do so sets the benchmark for the rest. Launching Fusion 360 at this price point, Autodesk pretty much tore up the playbook while they did it.

SolidSmack’s article emphasize collaborative capabilities of Fusion 360 as well as the ability to share data online in external communities such as GrabCAD. Here is an interesting passage:

Where Fusion 360 really shines though is in it’s ability to be used anywhere, by anyone. With access tied to a login (be it a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, etc), it’s possible for all members of a project both inside and out of the industrial/mechanical design department to have access to the project throughout its development….even in real-time over coffee at Starbucks on a phone.

However today’s announcement from Autodesk doesn’t end with Fusion 360′s modeling and team collaboration features: a new partnership with GrabCAD will allow users to publish directly from Fusion 360 to GrabCAD seamlessly…effectively tying the existing GrabCAD community into the Fusion 360 base and vice-versa, which ultimately means even more assets to help speed up your modeling process.

Another article by Design and Motion provides a nice set of screenshots. One of them is presenting how Fusion 360 social collaboration user experience. That was another topic discussed in blogosphere long time.

So, with all hype about designing online, what does it mean for product lifecycle management and why is it so important, in my view. Here is my top 3 things:

1. Data management experience is part of Fusion 360. It uses PLM 360 to store and manage data. The focus is on designer’s workflow and not on data management tasks. This is a big deal and important trend. Everybody needs data, but nobody wants to do data management. The trend towards "invisible data management" will continue.

2. Data collaboration. It is easy to share data outside of Fusion 360. GrabCAD is a good example of that. The online norms of sharing data on the web are coming to design environment.

3. Future of web integration. Fusion 360 clearly shows the future opportunity of web integrations. Before Fusion 360, the meaning of CAD integration was to run a code on the desktop Not anymore. Whoever wants to intertwine processes and connect with Fusion will be able to do it in the web environment. Remember Why PLM needs to learn Web APIs article? Fusion will be coming there.

What is my conclusion? Fusion 360 is a big deal for PLM in the future. It combines two important things – the ability to run PLM system in the background of design software, leveraging cloud infrastructure and opens new ways to integrate design with other processes in the organization and extended enterprise. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclosure: As Autodesk employee, I understand that my opinion about Fusion 360 and PLM can be unintentionally biased. Nevertheless, I believe the topic itself is very important, so I decided to share my thoughts anyway.

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