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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Alan Perkins, CIO of Altium (Part 7)

Posted on Wednesday, Dec 29th 2010

By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini

SM: Right. I think what you are getting at is exactly the trend that I too have spotted in the context of cloud and EDA – the collaboration aspect of an electronic designer’s life. The EDA workflow can be impacted heavily by cloud computing. For an entrepreneur, the maximum opportunity as far as EDA and cloud computing is concerned in the domain of collaboration.

AP: Absolutely! That is exactly what I am saying. It is in the area of the interface between devices. That is exactly what I am trying to say. Not only in terms of the devices in the field and use cases for designs, but also in terms of the re-use, the collaboration. One of the concepts that we have is the notion that you can earn things like the Linden dollars in this connected world.

SM: Second Life!

AP: Yes! Now we have this idea of being able to answer people’s questions or put a bounty on questions that you are asking. Let’s say that our team decides to put 50 points onto any question that anybody asks, so that anybody can answer it and get 50 points. The person asking the question can say, Look I need an answer on this, I need a quality answer. I’m prepared to put 500 points on the table myself. Well, they might have bought those points or they might have earned those. But then somebody else can earn the same points by providing them with a highly responsive answer. The same logic applies for a component. I need a widget that can do XYZ; now, once that widget is being written and available, somebody else can say, Okay I am providing it to you. I could provide it to other people, too. But that is where I think the opportunities are really going to be.

SM: Yes, and there are derivative opportunities in vertical search engines because for all these, if you have so many design components, floating in the clouds, you need search engines to be able to manage them, search them, and find them for you, find the right components on the right granularity level.

AP: Yes, that is correct.

SM: You still require proper metadata. You need to deal with management and the data structure around it. All of those are parts of the kind of environment that you are talking about, right?

AP: Absolutely. Along with the notion of an ecosystem of any such kind is that there will be opportunities for improvement, opportunities for leveraging that data. But beyond that it is really about say possibilities – say this set of headphones that I have here and say an automobile, what can I do to bring these two together in a way that makes for an interesting user experience? There are going to be all sorts of different entrepreneurial opportunities that arise simply by virtue of the fact that I have two devices that can talk to each other without being designed to talk to each other, if you know what I mean!

SM: Yes.

AP: I think that is a significant evolutionary step, and it becomes possible because of the cloud. It becomes possible because we don’t have to worry about the architecture or the interconnectivity. Without having to worry about the infrastructure required to support it, it is all taken care of. XML is a common lingua franca, service-oriented architecture (SOA), you know things such as SOAP and so forth which enable us to interconnect.

SM: I actually don’t think that it is straightforward enough or as taken care of yet. But in the world that we are going toward, I think there are opportunities for those kinds of infrastructures to be there and for devices to be able to interface with each other more seamlessly and more broadly than there has been so far. So, yes, I fully agree with you that the operating word on the cloud of opportunity in electronic design automation arena is collaboration.

AP: Yes, collaboration of designs and collaboration of products.

SM: Yes, collaboration of designs and collaboration of products. Thank you for your time, Alan. We will get in touch with you for the follow-up questions.

[Note to readers: IBM’s VP of innovation Bernie Meyerson said at the Design Automation Conference here that in three to five years, cloud computing for EDA will occupy up to 20 percent of design transactions between major EDA vendors and their customers. There has been an accelerating and seemingly insatiable need for IT resources, driven by the emergence of the ‘Internet of Things’,” said Meyerson. This is forcing even the EDA world to explore emerging compute paradigms, such as cloud computing.

Companies such as Xuropa that offers sophisticated customer relationship management, IT-free cloud automation, and engaging online collaboration environment have major EDA players – Cadence and Synopsys – as their customers. Deepak Singh, business development manager at Amazon.com, was quoted here saying that “Synopsys and other EDA vendors are using AWS for providing training on its tools.”

These are some of the examples that indicate the trend in the EDA world of cloud computing. EDA may be a slower cloud adopter, but the field is certainly evaluating and trying out cloud-based solutions to address several of their EDA specific and generic business process requirements that can benefit from cloud computing.]

This segment is part 7 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Alan Perkins, CIO of Altium
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