This just came in as CD-Adapco that has just launched STAR-CCM+ /Power-On-Demand – which it is billing as a “revolutionary new product licensing scheme”. For those unfamiliar with the company, it develops the Star-CD range of computational fluid dynamics applications that are used is a huge ragen of industries to solve some very complex simulation tasks. Tasks, in fact, that often use super computing technology to solve. On my first visit to the company’s headquarters down in Hammersmith (I think), I was rather gobsmacked at the air=conditioned beast of a super computer room thats just inside the office – a testament to the computing horse power that CFD and other simulation tasks require.
But for me, this release isn’t about the move to the cloud at all. CFD vendors in particular have been using cluster-based solutions for decades, often accessed remotely – the use of the word cloud is a touch of jumping on the bandwagon. What this release is about is licensing. I had an interesting discussion many years ago with someone from CD-Adapco (along with other vendors in the same space) about how simulation licensing is, amongst many things, linked to CPUs and cores.
If you want your results more quickly, you use more CPUs. And as a result, you pay more. Something that is increasingly out of date as multi-core workstations have become ubiquitous – look at the latest desktop generation of workstations – my colleague and hardware wizard, Greg Corke has recently been testing workstations with 12+ cores – that’s a huge shift. As a result, it was always my opinion that per core or per CPU licensing would have to shift eventually as this increasing became the norm.
According to the press release, CD-Adapco changed its mind in 2008 when it introduced the “Power Session” licensing scheme, which “gives users to access unlimited computational resources for a single fixed fee: breaking the relationship between software cost and hardware resources (number of cores) deployed in a simulation.” This latest release is an extension of that, allowing organisations to deploy the company’s solutions on a wider range of hardware and using third party ‘cloud’ services, such as Amazon’s EC2 service. Let’s be clear, this is going to be a costly license, after all, the company isn’t going to look to drop revenue levels, but at least its a move in the right direction – it’ll be interesting to see what the other major players in the game have to offer.