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CyDesign on Cloud: Pay as You Go, but not SaaS.

In CyDesign Studio, a user can begin with a seed design or template (in this case, a rally car). The design pulls together models of components and assemble them as systems. From this work area, the user can swap out component models as they see fit. Incidentally, the software does not allow you to select an incompatible component.

This shows a popup window that appears when the transmissions are selected. You can browse available models and switch them into the design. In some cases, models might have parametric values that can be changed and those values would be used within the design.

The final analysis is done from the visualization screen. Here, the user can play back simulations and see the resulting data gathered by test probes. The visualization also includes a video play back of the system model in a rendered 3D environment.

People who are involved in DARPA’s FANG (fast adaptable next-generation ground) vehicle design program may not realize they’re interacting with a component supplied by a start-up based in Palo Alto, California. Embedded inside META, the web-hosted software accessible to all FANG participants free of charge, is the technology from CyDesign, a company founded by Serdar Uckun. Formerly a principal scientist at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and technical area lead at NASA Ames Research Center, Uckun has extensive experience in system engineering and complex system design. About a year go, Uckun decided to create a commercial version of the software he developed. So he set up shop about five miles away from Stanford University and lunched CyDesign. The new company’s product, CyDesign Studio, is gearing up for public release in summer 2013.

DARPA’s FANG project is a cloud-hosted project, in a manner of speaking. Participants who’ve signed up for the project access META — the official software tools for modeling, simulation, and collaboration — from a standard web browser. Similarly, CyDesign’s commercial software will be delivered over the web.

“For us, cloud is not a gimmick, not a marketing tool,” said Tom Stegmann, VP of business development. “It enables us to do things like massively parallel processing of simulation.”

Stegmann and his colleagues envision customers using CyDesign’s scalable cloud-hosted back-end processors to test tens, hundreds, or thousands of design variations. “Simulation doesn’t give you a definitive answer,” noted Stegmann. “The trick is to run a lot. In the results, you see a curve that tells you which ones are good solutions. If you’re off that line, it’s probably a bad solution.”

CyDesign Studio is set up so that your program requirements (for example, the desired MPH or fuel economy of a vehicle) will be part of the input parameters you use during your simulation, explained Stegmann. The simulation technology in the product is based on the Modelica simulation engine, also powering commercial products from Dassault Systemes, Maplesoft, and others.

But don’t call CyDesign software as a service (SaaS). Stegmann prefers “pay as you go” as a better way to describe the licensing model. You’ll pay based on usage. It’s not a pay-per-module licensing or monthly licensing; it’s closer to a comprehensive buffet table where you’re charged for the volume you consume, or a utility contract where you’re billed for the wattage you used. The billing calculation formula (which CyDesign isn’t discussing publicly) will be based partly CPU cycles, storage, and connect time.

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About Kenneth

Kenneth Wong has been a regular contributor to the CAD industry press since 2000, first an an editor, later as a columnist and freelance writer for various publications. During his nine-year tenure, he has closely followed the migration from 2D to 3D, the growth of PLM (product lifecycle management), and the impact of globalization on manufacturing. His writings have appeared in Cadalyst, Computer Graphics World, and Manufacturing Business Technology, among others.


  1. Interesting. Looks like what they’re trying to do is get everybody in on the simulation process, not just core scientists at a company. Don’t know how the math will work, but it’s compelling.

  2. Facinating. It may be the answer to my next car decision.

  3. Related to this article, I wanted to make readers aware of an important not-for-profit (volunteer) vendor-neutral activity that should be of interest. I’ve joined the “UeberCloud HPC Experiment” as a Mentor/Supervisor of multiple teams and also to help publicize and grow this project investigating the actual processes and obstacles for engineers who currently do desktop/workstation CAE simulation and have a need to “scale up” to occasional/heavy HPC/Cloud-based compute power for larger problems and faster turn-around. The details of the project so far (it started last Summer and is now in Round 2) can be read at these two links:



    We are particularly interested in reaching out to more workstation/desktop-level simulation engineers (end users) to take part in Round 3. I am hoping that this reply comment will spark some reader interest. Wolfgang Gentzsch, an acknowledged global expert on grid/cloud computing and co-founder of the HPC Experiment, is also interested in writing a more detailed article for DE on the purpose and results, so far, of the Experiment.

    Please feel free to contact me or Wolfgang directly (wolfgang.gentzsch@hpcexperiment.com) for more details.

  4. This approach will indeed become an integral part of the future of design. I say ‘part of’ because I see two different approaches to pay-as-you-go: one – and I believe the most widely used – will be the hybrid desktop/cloud approach where the engineer uses the workstation (and perhaps some inhouse compute cluster) for daily design tasks, and in case of more complex designs (geometry, physics), or many parameter studies, or faster time-to-market, then ‘burst’ into the Cloud. The second approach is to one presented here by CyDesign Studio, using software which is just available online, accessible through your browser, on-demand, pay-as-you go. These two approaches are what we explore currently in the CAE Experiment http://www.cfdexperiment.com with over 300 participating organizations and over 50 different application teams.

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