The Voodoo Magic of Cloud Services

by: Guest Author | 12/11/2014
Estimated Reading time: 10 - 16 minutes



Several years ago, Autodesk broke ground (pardon the pun) on a new initiative called cloud services.  Essentially, harnessing the infinite power of the cloud to perform complex calculations that would otherwise bring a single computer to its knees.  In doing so, Autodesk opened the door to a whole new approach to completing tedious and time consuming project tasks.  Now, because most of the projects I deal with are Infrastructure related, the concept of using a cloud service was intriguing but I wasn’t sure exactly how it would apply to the civil industry.  I later witnessed how it could be applied first hand when a customer and I used Roadway Design for InfraWorks 360 to automatically optimize a proposed road profile.


The road was several miles long and crossed some moderately challenging vertical terrain.

  • We began by laying out the horizontal geometry to define the road centerline.
  • Next, using the profile optimization cloud service we entered a handful of design constraints, average construction & earthwork unit costs, and quantities options.
  • When complete, a data package was automatically sent to the cloud for vertical optimization.
  • Thirty minutes and 100 cloud credits later we received a completed profile optimization report containing a fully optimized profile, an estimated construction cost, earthwork information, an estimated hauling scheme, proposed PVI information and more.

Additionally, our InfraWorks model now contained our newly optimized roadway.  It was like voodoo magic!!

Don’t get me wrong, our complete road design was still far from complete.  However, using the profile optimization cloud service made short work of what would have otherwise been a very time consuming manual exercise in “trial and error” and educated estimation.

In thirty minutes, the cloud service provided us a balanced conceptual roadway design that would have typically taken hours if not days to compute manually.


Imagine for a moment the impact of a tool like this as well as the potential for other tools.  Think about not only how much time could be saved, but also how else that time could be spent.  What would you do with the extra time?


Extending this further, as additional cloud services are made available, we will literally have at our fingertips the power to redefine our whole approach to how infrastructure projects are designed and delivered.

Knowing this, what do you think about the pivot to cloud services for infrastructure projects?

Are they something to look forward to or something to be apprehensive about?

Finally, what project task do you think would be a great candidate for the next cloud service?


InfraWorks 360:

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