EDA WEEKLY: Thank you Alan, for taking time out to talk with us as part of our EDA WEEKLY ONE YEAR LATER program. What is the theme that Altium is pursuing in its upcoming major software release?
Altium Designer 10 builds on the company's unified data model that continues to serve PCB, FPGA and embedded designers within the one application, but it asks a number of important questions of the board-level design software sector, and then sets out to answer them with Altium Designer 10.
EDA WEEKLY: Thank you. What are some of those questions, based on Altium’s 25 years of experience in the PCB business?
Well, here are two of them, as we see it:
1. How can we be surprised that managing design data has remained an intractable problem when it's complicated by expensive software bolted together in a fashion that the greater technology industry was challenging 10 years ago?
2. Are we not appalled that much electronics design software has not caught up with the needs of a cloud-connected future?
EDA WEEKLY: I heartily agree with the implications of question one. But I wonder about Question 2. Not many computer users in general are familiar yet with “cloud computing,” let alone PCB folks, who tend to adopt new technology more slowly and skeptically than, say, semiconductor folks. How does Altium define “Cloud Computing”?
Altium defines the cloud as the Internet giving remote access to more computing power and storage.
EDA WEEKLY: Some of the advance press about Altium Designer 10 implies a big change in how and when Altium will deliver software to future users. Can you clue us in on what is meant by that?
With a slight touch of delicious irony, Altium Designer 10 is likely to be Altium's last "major release" for a while. As part of a broader strategy of helping designers stay ahead of electronics design technology, devices and trends, Altium will deliver updates, new software and new design content continuously from Altium Designer 10 onwards, using a new subscription-based content management system.
The notion of waiting for "the next major release” that has conditioned the broader software sector almost since its inception, becomes less relevant in this approach.
EDA WEEKLY: Isn’t there another breakthrough that Altium has been pursuing in parallel to Altium Designer 10?
Yes. Altium has also been developing AltiumLive, a new web-based portal that will help connect people and devices. The company sees AltiumLive as the first step towards the much bigger objective of making designing for the “Internet of Things” a reality for as many designers as possible, and not just big companies. And we’re not just talking about designing smart phones and laptops; we’re talking designing industrial products as well, including small production runs.
EDA WEEKLY: We have heard that your recent acquisition is playing a significant role with AltiumLive?
Absolutly. AltiumLive has been deliberately built to deal with this evolving world that I spoke of just before. No one person knows the size of this connected future, despite the many predictions, but it is a future that most observers now accept as inevitable. And it is a world and a future in which Altium has staked a claim to play an active part.
And yes, at the heart of this new ecosystem for professional electronics designers is the Morfik technology acquired by Altium in September 2010.
EDA WEEKLY: So as Altium Desigher 10 and AltiumLive are released in early 2011, the focus will still be PCB design?
Today, the combination of Altium Designer 10 (design software) and AltiumLive (an ecosystem for designers) may be seen in a seemingly-obvious context of PCB design, aimed at minimizing the trials and challenges faced by today’s PCB designers in simply being able to design a device and then get it manufactured as designed.
But this release is a precursor to the future in which designers will want to engage with manufacturers around the world through the Internet cloud, to share design data with partners through the cloud, and create their own ecosystems with their customers so that they can generate new business from product upgrades, and so on.
EDA WEEKLY: Thanks for your time, Alan, and good luck with this new release!
About the Writer:
Since 1996, Dr. Russ Henke has been and remains active as president of HENKE ASSOCIATES, a San Francisco Bay Area high-tech business & management consulting firm. The number of client companies for Henke Associates now numbers more than forty. During his corporate career, Henke operated sequentially on "both sides" of MCAE/MCAD and EDA, as a user and as a vendor. He's a veteran corporate executive from Cincinnati Milacron, SDRC, Schlumberger Applicon, Gould Electronics, ATP, and Mentor Graphics. Henke is a Fellow of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and served on the SME International Board of Directors. Henke was also a board member of SDRC, PDA, ATP, and the MacNeal Schwendler Corporation, and he currently serves on the board of Stottler Henke Associates, Inc. Henke is also a member of the IEEE and a Life Fellow of ASME International. In April 2006, Dr. Henke received the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the CAD Society, presented by CAD Society president Jeff Rowe at COFES2006 in Scottsdale, AZ. In February 2007, Henke became affiliated with Cyon Research's select group of experts on business and technology issues as a Senior Analyst. This Cyon Research connection aids and supplements Henke's ongoing, independent consulting practice (HENKE ASSOCIATES). Dr. Henke is also a contributing editor of the EDACafé EDA WEEKLY, and he has published EDA WEEKLY articles every four weeks since November 2009; URL's available.
Since May 2003 HENKE ASSOCIATES has also published a total of ninety-three (93) independent COMMENTARY articles on MCAD, PLM, EDA and Electronics IP on IBSystems' MCADCafé and EDACafé.
Further information on HENKE ASSOCIATES, and URL's for past Commentaries, are available at http://www.henkeassociates.net. March 31, 2011 will mark the 15th Anniversary of the founding of HENKE ASSOCIATES.