May 13, 2021
Taking a page from the world of enterprise productivity software, Altair aims to bring that same ease of collaboration and multi-application access to engineering users accustomed to navigating between different workflows and tool silos.
The new Altair One portal is a fully integrated platform that melds the company’s entire simulation suite, engineering tools, and data analytics software with its high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities to facilitate collaboration and streamline workflows. By providing the modern equivalent of a “single pane of glass,” Altair is attempting to eliminate the boundaries between different functional silos and engineering disciplines, making it easier to share data and collaborate on designs, thus accelerating product development cycles. The platform also empowers customers to seamlessly manage hybrid on-premises and cloud HPC resources to process workloads in the most cost effective and efficient way, Altair officials say.
“We’re bringing what productivity users are used to, to engineering workflows,” says Sam Mahalingam, chief technical officer for Altair’s cloud computing and high performance computing strategy.
From the Altair One portal, users can launch applications in the cloud instantly with no downloads necessary. Key to that capability is the Marketplace, where users can access any of Altair’s applications and solvers along with those from third-party partners, choosing to run them on the cloud, on their desktop, or get access from any mobile devices.
Moreover, users can tap into the latest versions of the software without having to lean on IT to deploy the software and without having to go through a protracted validation cycle. The Altair One Marketplace also offers exclusive access to new tools such as Altair DesignAI, a design tool that pairs physics-based simulation and machine learning-based AI-driven design capabilities, and Altair Material Data Center, a multi-domain materials properties repository.
From the same Altair One portal, users can also manage cloud and on-premises HPC resources. The simplified user interface lets users configure, deploy, and run complex HPC solver jobs in the cloud, using a single sign-on to provision turn-key, scalable HPC cluster appliances across all the major cloud providers, including Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud, and Google Cloud Platform, with just a few mouse clicks.
Users pay for access to products using Altair Units, the company's token-based payment system.
Data management is also part of the portal via the Altair One drive (similar to Google Drive), which lets users securely upload, access, store, and manage relevant engineering design and simulation data. Users can extract meta data from models, view the model in a 3D View without having to open it up in an application, and interrogate using a variety of tools.
While it isn’t specifically billed as a Simulation Data Management (SDM) platform, Mahalingam describes Altair Drive as a single source of truth and a central repository for all Altair One engineering workflows. Altair One aggregates data and builds a library of shared knowledge that catalogs models, parts, documents, and other findings through automatic metadata tagging. Using this model to build a digital thread, engineers can quickly trace designs back to various points in the design cycle so they can maintain a change history.
On-Demand Simulation on the Rise
Recognizing the classic software licensing models' limitations, a handful of simulation software vendors have begun exploring various cloud-based on-demand licensing models. Ansys with its Ansys Catalog and Ansys Cloud, browser-based SimScale, and the startup SimulationHub are all part of the evolution. Companies such as Rescale, which offers on-demand HPC, is also part of the transformation.
Ansys users can combine compute-intensive simulation products from the Ansys catalog and run on Ansys Cloud, but the they are separate offerings. Users who already have their own simulation software licenses may use Rescale's HPC to run simulation remotely. On the other hand, Altair One's model offers a seamless combination of Altiar products with on-demand HPC, setting up an example others might follow.
In the closely related CAD software sector, the shift to cloud-hosted CAD began with Onshape, founded by former SolidWorks executives. Autodesk also offers on-demand computing to augment its graphics and simulation titles in its portfolio.
Currently, no general market place (like Apple App Store or Google Play) exists for users to search, find, and license simulation apps from all vendors.
To learn more about Altair One, watch this video introduction.
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About the Author
Beth Stackpole is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to [email protected].Follow DE