COFES 2010 (Day 1) – Special Sessions

The first day of COFES usually starts off with a bunch of informal sessions.

Clouds and GPU Clouds

The first one was by Jon Peddie, the President of Jon Peddie Research, a marketing, research and management consulting firm based in Tiburon, California. His presentation was titled “Clouds and GPU Clouds”. He spoke about clouds but made no mention about GPU clouds at all, untill someone from the audience asked him something about it. Persoanlly, I didn’t find the session very interesting. When asked about connectivity issues Jon suggested that users should take their data on a thumb drive if they know that they will not have good access to the internet. And that they take all their software on their laptop as well. Funny.

I asked Jon, “They say a chain is as strong as its weakest link. In your opinion what is the weakest link in the implementation of the cloud. Is it security, internet, data storage or something else?” Jon replied saying that all were equally important. In my opinion the weakest link is the user. I mean just getting him to adopt the cloud.

Basically, the presentation was about general talk on how the good the cloud is. Stuff that we have heard over and over again. But not much in terms of solving the problems posed by the cloud. I was not impressed.

International Business Update

The next informal session was a presentation by Peter Thorne, Managing Director of Cambashi, a hybrid between a management and marketing consultancy, an industry analyst firm and a market research company having offices in Cambridge (UK) and Boston (US). Cambashi keeps a close watch on international business as a whole and technical application software in particular and has been advising companies all over the world on making strategic decisions. They say the best way to predict the future is to analyze the past. Cambashi does precisely that by gathering data from a wide range of industries and countries. Peter shared some of his insights with us through an “International Business Update”.

According to Peter, the global financial crisis has not unseated the US as world’s number one economic power. He says that although countries like India and China appear set to take the crown from the US, they are not “balanced” economies, in the sense that China specializes in Manufacturing and India in Software and IT. The US, on the other hand, has a well rounded economy.

Here are some interesting statistics. The US accounts for 28% of the total expenditure on technical applications and is the largest in the world. On an average $177 was spent on technical applications per engineer as compared to $411 per engineer in Japan. The numbers were arrived by dividing the total expenditure on technical applications by the total number of engineer reported by the respective countries. Obviously these numbers to not account for pirates software.

Peters predicted a difficult future but with a lot of opportunity.

Challenges of Realistically Simulating Manufacturing

The third and final informal session was a presentation by Bob Tilov of General Motors Research & Development. Bob spoke about the challenges of Virtual Manufacturing Systems (VMS). As the name suggests a VMS is a manufacturing that is virtual. Examples include Digital Prototyping (which Autodesk is raving about with Inventor) and Product Lifecycle Management (which everyone else is raving about). Bob’s opinion is that while these VMS’s exist and are being deployed there are many challenges that need to be overcome. Bob presented his vision of something he calls Virtual Simulated Work Enviroment (VSWE). Unlike VMS’s that involve a computer running a simulation software or a bunch of computers processing data, a VSWE involves real people doing real things. VSWE’s are meant for designing, validation. assembly, maintenance and repair options in industries like automotive and defense.