Friday, July 17, 2009

AutoDesk and Reseller Relationship

I've been meaning to do a post for some time now explaining the relationship between Autodesk and its resellers. This came to the forefront for me a few weeks ago when one of the WGUG attendees said, "Hey, how come your logo is on the same freebie as Autodesk? Aren't you competitors?" Heck no!

Here's the deal...think of Autodesk as a car manufacturer, like Toyota or GM or VW. The resellers are like the car dealerships. Autodesk designs and manufactures the car, but the dealer sells, services and, in some cases, pimps out the cars.

In this analogy, the dealer is often the driving instructor. Training classes are held at a dealer's local office. Autodesk University is always an option too - sort of like going to the Detroit Auto Show.

But who is the "mechanic"?

One of the biggest points of confusion is subscription versus support. Your subscription (much like a new car's warranty) is through Autodesk. An Autodesk subscription includes web-only support though Autodesk subscription center. Subscription does not mean you can actually call somone to tell them about your technical support problems. To speak with a human about tech support issues you need either subscription with Gold Support from Autodesk or a support contract through your reseller.

I shall now go on a related tangent about what subscription means.
Top six reasons to purchase and remain on subscription (in order of importance):

  1. Easier budgeting. The cost remains low and constant every year. No surprises when you realize you need to upgrade. If you don't have subscription and wait more than three years (the time it takes for products to retire), you end up re-buying the software from scratch.
  2. Prior use authorization. This happens to one of our users once a week: New guy starts and the company needs to purchase a new seat. However the company is still standardized on 2008. If you are on subscription, its no big deal - you can get a serial number to install another seat of 2008. If you are not on subscription, new guy is stuck with 2010. End of story.
  3. Web-based support. This is a great supplement even if you have an in-house guru or outside tech support. Don't believe your reseller? Get a second opinion straight from Autodesk.
  4. Bonus packs. Autodesk has put out some juicy tidbits out there for subscription members to download. Right now, Civil 3D users there can get style converters, stage-storage tools, HEC-RAS tools, white papers, cheat-sheets and industry related articles.
  5. e-Learning. Need to brush up on making surfaces? Wanna see how to make dynamic blocks in base AutoCAD? Browse the eLearning catalog for interactive tools.
  6. Product Updates. Yes, this is the last reason to be on subscription. Yes, you get a shiny, new box every spring containing the latest and greatest product. If you are too eager to wait for the box you can download your product from subscription center the minute it is released. However, this should be your last consideration if looking at subscription. Many companies are tied into client file formats. Others may want to wait until they get computers with more juice. The smart ones install on a test machine and lurk on the discussion groups to see if there are any major problems.

What's your takeaway? A) Subscription and support are different beasts. B)Subscription is not the plot of a big, evil company fleecing a captive market. C)Autodesk University is like a car show, minus the chicks in bikinis draping themselves seductively over the hood...unless you are into middle-aged white guys, in which case, its exactly like that.

Peace out.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Civil 3D "Styles Workshop"

Where the heck has this spring/summer gone? I've been very busy (yay job security), but too busy to really blog much. And I feel guilty. Seriously. Hundreds of people bother to hit this site every day or two (or three) and I have been slacking on content. Since my sense of guilt has been compounded by a few glasses of wine this evening, I am posting to you a little gem I usually reserve for my clients.

Here is the text of my 2009 Styles Workshop. All of the concepts are still valid in 2010, however the interface has changed - hence the screen caps are out of date.

Enjoy the sh*t out of this.