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CD-adapco: Why We Changed Our CAE Licensing

Bill Clark, executive VP of CD-adapco, remembered a typical conversation he had with customers eight or nine years ago. He recalled, “They’d come and say, ‘Hey, Bill, do you know your software costs more than the computers we’re using? It doesn’t make sense.’ And that got us thinking.”

The thinking, Clark said, led to an overhaul of the company’s computer-aided engineering (CAE) software licensing policy. It marked the introduction of two distinct licensing approaches: Power Session and Power Token. They’re specifically designed to address the customers’ increased use of high-performance computing (HPC) to run complex simulation jobs. CD-adapco introduced Power Session in 2010 and the Power Tokens in 2013. The company also offers Power on Demand, a SaaS-style usage-based model.

What is Traditional CAE Licensing?

Clark explained, “The traditional method of CAE licensing is, you buy a seat of the software, then you get access to HPC capacity by buying HPC licenses, albeit less expensive than buying additional seats. When you buy a seat of the software, which costs a good chunk of money, you can only run a single job on a single core. With the added HPC licensing, you can deploy additional cores, with a fee for each additional core you want to deploy.”

The method was sensible when most CAE software users were looking to tackle jobs one at a time on a single computer. But the rise of multicore machines, the increased complexity of simulation jobs, and the availability of relatively affordable HPC hardware demanded a new approach. What CAE users want today is to (1) run one large job on hardware with hundreds of computing cores; or (2) run multiple versions of the same design on hardware with hundreds of computing cores. With traditional licensing, a significant fee is required for each additional core delegated to solve the job. And to run ten derivative designs simultaneously would require ten seats of the same software. Therefore, the cost of HPC-powered simulation is too prohibitive to pursue, especially for small and midsized engineering firms.