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Autodesk Introduces Engineering Software, Cloud Platform

Autodesk Inc., a maker of architectural and engineering software, unveiled new design tools and a revamped cloud-computing platform called Autodesk 360 that lets customers use the programs over the Internet.

The new package includes design, engineering and entertainment software, the San Rafael, California-based company said today. It connects to Autodesk 360, letting users store, edit and share their designs. The system also lets customers tap as much computing power as they need, Autodesk said.

The largest seller of engineering and design software is shifting more of its product development toward applications that can be delivered over the Web, in addition to being installed on users’ personal computers. Autodesk is also building software for smartphones and Apple Inc.’s iPad, such as its SketchBook application, which can create drawings and paintings on touch screens.

The company’s smartphone and tablet apps are influencing the design of its professional desktop products, Chief Executive Officer Carl Bass said in an interview. For example, users can transfer SketchBook drawings to more powerful tools for refinements, he said.

“When someone’s about to design a car, there’s that famous napkin sketch,” he said. “We’re giving our professional users the tools to do that.”

‘Shift the Locus’

Later this year, the company will give users of its desktop design programs the ability to pay premiums for more cloud-computing processing power, which could help them render design drawings quickly to meet deadlines, Bass said. Less urgent jobs could draw on free or lower-priced cloud services, he said.

“We really just want to shift the locus of where the work is,” Bass said.

Autodesk competes with Bentley Systems Inc. and Dassault Systemes SA in the engineering software market. Bass has estimated that the “vast majority” of software will be delivered via the cloud within five years, and that such programs will increase computing power to save engineers time.

Autodesk fell less than 1 percent to $42.19 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 39 percent this year after tumbling 21 percent in 2011.

The company generated $2.2 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year, up 14 percent from a year earlier.

Resellers of the company’s software are signing larger deals from software suites and cloud-computing products, Brendan Barnicle, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities LLC in Portland, Oregon, said this month in a research note. Barnicle has an outperform rating on the shares.

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