The Autodesk Rental Model May Result in Local Governments Wasting Money in the Future


This post has be updated and moved here.

recently had an interesting discussion with the GIS/CAD manager for the wastewater division of a large U.S. city. He raised a number of interesting observations of their changing software needs:

  • The city has migrated to the Esri Government model and is no longer using Autodesk products for geospatial data capture or daily GIS maintenance
  • His division is using Autodesk products for engineering design. Roughly
    • 1/3 for manhole, gravity sewer and force main design and rehabilitation
    • 1/3 for lift station rehabilitation and maintenance
    • 1/3 for treatment plant maintenance, modification and rehabilitation design
  • The AEC collection provides much more software than his organization will ever use. For example, he does not believe that his team will use Revit in the foreseeable future because of its complexity and training requirements.
  • He is concerned about Autodesk’s long term strategy for software maintenance suspecting that the maintenance and subscription (rental) pricing will eventually converge and that perpetual licenses could be eliminated.
  • He has been following BricsCAD closely as he believes that BricsCAD with 3rd party applications could represent a significant savings to the City from reduced software costs and lower hardware costs.

5yearcostAs an example, his group has deployed 20 AEC Collection licenses  primarily to provide CAD access to geospatial data.  This basic functionality can be replicated with BricsCAD and Spatial Manager.

The savings to the organization (when compared to Autodesk’s subscription pricing) of converting only 10 of his AEC Collection licenses  is $10,600 in the first year and a whopping $84,500 over 5 years.


The 80/20 Rule Applies

A key observation was that his “organization only needed 20% of the core functionality 80% of the time.”  Different users have different CAD needs – the classic example of selecting the right tool for the job.

That option has, however, been removed by Autodesk as it forces collections upon users.  For example, why is the annual subscription for AutoCAD Map the same as that of Civil 3D?  Given the option, of course users will select Civil 3D, even if they have no intention to use it.  This adds additional bloat, complicates deployment processes and increases hardware requirements.

It would be interesting to know how many other local governments find themselves in a similar situation.  Will we start to see mixed deployments of AutoCAD and DWG compatible applications like BricsCAD or IntelliCAD?


About Lance Maidlow

A professional engineer and solution architect with direct experience in a wide range of industries including GIS, water, sewer, power, transportation and oil and gas. Currently focusing on the optimization of design software and field data collection for utilities, local governments and their supporting organizations.
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