twitter youtube facebook linkedin email
Connect with:

In the Fold: Autodesk news and opinions

Not so fast Bentley: Separating fact from fiction

July 15, 2016

By Carl White, Senior Director of Business Models at Autodesk


Earlier this week, Bentley announced an “upgrade program” for Autodesk customers. We found the offer to be disingenuous and mischaracterizes what Autodesk offers our customers. Here are the facts about our offerings – both perpetual and subscription:

Fact #1 – No Autodesk customer ever loses the right to use the perpetual software license you’ve purchased, it is “evergreen”. And if you’re on a software maintenance plan, you can continue to receive all of the benefits of software updates and technical support for as long as you’d like.

We’ve shared key dates well ahead of time to give customers time needed to adjust, but that does not mean we’re taking away options. Rather than taking our word for it, here’s what one respected industry watcher had to say: “I really just wanted to make it 100% clear: if you have a perpetual license and continue to pay maintenance, NOTHING CHANGES on February/August 1, 2016 unless you want it to.”

Fact #2 – Our customers have a choice. When you subscribe to Autodesk software, you have flexible terms (monthly, quarterly, annually), and multiple access points (single user, multi-user and shared). Now Autodesk customers can get the software they need for a year or a month, in ways that are more convenient and better for their business. Customers can buy and use it for as long as they want and can match their subscription type with the demands of their workforce. When the workforce expands, they can ramp up, or in quieter periods, they can scale it back.  In short, subscribing gives you flexibility and predictability.

When it comes to value, lower upfront costs make our software more accessible and allow you to try more tools without the risk of a large upfront expenditure. Plus, you only pay when you need it. This is a big deal. Some of our customers prefer this cost is considered an operating expense, allowing you to bill the cost of the software back to the client or project. And if you subscribe for a longer, multi-year term, you lock-in your rate. Combine that with flexibility in the length of contracts and you may find that you’re actually paying less.

Fact #3 – Software as a service is essential for technological evolution. It allows for continual and consistent innovation and support. The software will get better, faster and more seamless in the way you use it. The experience is customized to you or your organization, and provides a simplified way to access and deploy software, manage your users and collaborate on projects. With this new way of delivering software, everyone will always have the latest, most up-to-date Autodesk tools available.

It’s not just Autodesk saying this; the entire software industry is moving in this direction. Frankly, design and engineering software has been a bit slow to make this change. But the benefits for end-users are clear, and it’s just a matter of time before all vendors have similar ways of buying.

Fact #4 – Our recent earnings results validate our move to an all subscription-based model and readiness of the market and our customer base. More customers are getting on board every day. In Q1 of this year, they were up 132,000 to 2.71 million.

What does this mean?  It means that millions of you are already seeing the benefits of shifting to subscription and are making that choice voluntarily.

So Bentley, we have this to say to you: announcing competitive upgrade programs makes for sensational headlines, but it doesn’t solve customers’ problems. Autodesk is in the business of giving our customers the best tools possible to solve their businesses’—and the world’s—biggest challenges.

Autodesk Showreel

Featured Links



View by:
Most Recent Oldest
  1. AvatarStrob

    Autodesk just can’t admit they are wrong on this.

  2. AvatarMartin

    Rental = nothing left once you stop paying. This is just plain wrong for a product that needs a lot of time to learn/use effectively. Unlike an office or a car where it is technically easy to switch to a different one, software is often very unique – so rental-only is a really bad choice!
    The ONLY benefit of rental is an easy entry and immediate tax benefit, everything else is worse, especially for existing customers!
    My recommendation: Give us (your customers!) some options; rental-only, rent-to-own, or plain perpetual licenses – and then you will see what we prefer.

  3. AvatarSteve Johnson

    It’s probably unwise to use the word ‘disingenuous’ on an attempt to spin Autodesk’s removal of choice as the exact opposite, complete with “facts” that are anything but.

  4. AvatarJohn Evans

    Can’t keep away from this post it seems!
    Something to note generally about rental and for me is the biggest bullet to bite. More like a 15″ battleship shell in fact!
    Historically, in my experience, many companies bought a software licence, installed the software and then kept using that version for years on end and never upgraded. The usual comments from Board level was “the software does what we need it to do, so we are not spending more money on upgrades”.
    So,you made a one off payment. Eventually, Boards were forced to upgrade because other collaborating businesses had and we couldn’t open newer version files in old applications.
    Good commercial trick that by the software developers.
    Then we had maintenance contracts, which tied us in to annual subscriptions but we got free (well not really as we were paying the subscription costs)software upgrades.
    Now we are going rental. This looks better than maintenance as is well covered in Autodesk’s powerful marketing hype (by the way I believe Autodesk’s marketing people are the best, after all they got most of us to buy in to pap that is AutoCAD all these years). But there is an elephant in the room here, or rather, the 15″ shell to bite.
    In terms of accounting, rental gives a break even of about 3 to 4 years. After that we continue to pay rental at the same amount. Over ten years we end up paying considerably more on rental than maintenance subscription and massively more than one off purchasing without upgrades.
    As rental is more an OPEX cost it is claimed we can cover the long term costs of rental by passing that cost on to clients – tough cookie this one in very competitive markets.
    All in all rental becomes a very nice cash cow for Autodesk for those of us who use the software for the long term.
    Do the figures and you’ll be shocked at the amounts.
    So we have to find alternative means of paying for long term rental. For SMEs that’s hard.
    But, the flip side of this is that(with the Collections) we will have access to a far greater range of software products. So the costs can be made to balance, but you have to factor in the additional training costs as well so your staff can learn how to use these additional products and the learning curve time factors.
    I’m wondering that with the Collections, intermediate software such as NavisWorks Simulate will die the death as we’ll all have access to NavisWorks Manage in the Collection?, this kind of rationalisation suits me.
    For us, our Board are enlightened enough to understand that access to more and better tools and ensuring that staff are properly trained gives the business more technological skills to diversify the business, and seek new more profitable business streams and so on. So the long term additional costs of rental are considered worthwhile as the business grows.
    But, as I said before, watch those price hikes Autodesk, we are only as loyal as we can afford to be.

  5. AvatarRobiNZ

    While it is true “if you have a perpetual license and continue to pay maintenance, nothing changes” if you have some perpetual and want more everything changes.
    I can see the benefit of subscription for some circumstances, perpetual with maintenance for others. Some companies would rather have capex than opex, or a mix. Autodesk have removed that choice, that is a change.
    In terms of “Software as a service” perpetual with maintenance is identical to Subscription (other than the cost based on current pricing) until all applications are fully cloud based.

  6. AvatarAutodesk PR

    Thanks everyone for the comments and feedback. Steve, James and Richard, we look forward to discussing your comments in more detail via direct correspondence. Watch for an email from us soon.

  7. AvatarJohn Evans

    As an aside to my previous post is this request and not posted in the right place I know.
    Please Autodesk develop a proper integrated Landscape Architecture plugin for Revit that sits somewhere between Revit and Civil 3D. The ex-Eagle Point’s Site Designer plugin is a small step forward but doesn’t fully crack the needs of Landscape Design. This is a major area lacking in Revit that should close the gap between the Architecture and Civil Engineering disciplines.

  8. AvatarJohn Evans

    Lawray is an SME architectural practice in the UK and we have been going through the changes Autodesk has implemented over the last eighteen months or so.
    Our Autodesk software is sourced through CADassist based in Manchester UK.
    All through the transition both Autodesk and CADassist have been very helpful and supportive.
    We have not had any licencing or contractual issues at all during this time and all our staff, who use Autodesk software, have not experienced any changes that affect their ability to deliver projects.
    The most exciting thing for me is the new AEC Collection being released on August 1st this year. Having full access to all the top end software for a single rental price per Collection licence spread over the terms indicated in this piece is absolutely fantastic.
    Autodesk now does what Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud have been doing for some time.
    From August Lawray’s procurement policy will be to maintain the existing BDSP licences as standalone licences for the foreseeable future. Later on I will upgrade these to the AEC Collection on rental. Any NEW licences will be on rental but as the AEC Collection on a three year fixed term payment. This is actually cheaper than year by year BDSP and we get so much more from the AEC Collection for the money.
    If we purchased each application separately it would cost us something like £50k, but the collection comes in at £2200 per annum.
    The cost of software has also shifted from CAPEX to OPEX which makes purchasing software much more cost effective and easier to budget as the business flexes it staff levels.
    The only fly in the ointment is the annoying trend Autodesk has of increasing its prices, which now seem to be regular six monthly hikes of up to 10%. This is the only area I think Autodesk needs to be careful not to alienate its customer base.
    Finally, for many years, I was a dyed in the wool Bentley man. Microstation always was and remains a much better CAD application than AutoCAD. However, Revit has changed my view as I don’t believe Bentley’s ECOSim version of Microstation is as good as Revit as it seems to cling on to the limitations of the Microstation CAD engine and the user interface has not moved on with the times. It still seems more like AutoCAD Architecture than Revit, and if I was to tell our staff they have to go back to AutoCAD or AutoCAD Architecture instead of Revit I’d be lynched.
    That said, it is not just about Revit. The AEC Collection will give our staff access to NavisWorks Manage, Civil 3D, and Infraworks to name a few, at a reasonable cost. In days past it would have been a financial impossibility to provide staff with such a wide range of tools, tools that are increasingly integrating themselves.
    All in all the changes are most welcome and give our business opportunities and new business streams we never would have had the old way of procuring software.
    Well done Autodesk, but watch those price hikes.

  9. AvatarSteve

    Bentley not unlike Autodesk has its list of average to excellent software. I find it rather lacking in creativity to offer an upgrade to a different software. Companies and designers alike use what is required. If I am working on legacy Bentley projects, I would most likely use Bentley software. If I working on the latest version of a C3D project from a client, then I would use Autodesk to do it. no brainer.

  10. AvatarRichard Currie

    Fact 1 “but that does not mean we’re taking away options.” You ARE taking away the option to purchase a perpetual licence.
    Fact 2 “When the workforce expands, they can ramp up, or in quieter periods, they can scale it back” Agree this is great; the price point for this is, however, questionable being more than double. And.. “in ways that are more convenient and better for their business” Business owners know their business better than you and want a choice to buy perpetual licences at a significant overall cost saving; this is a long-term business investment and should still be their choice.
    Fact 3 “Software as a service is essential for technological evolution” Debatable but yes, will have many benefits to those that choose to use it. But if fact 1 is correct, you will allways need to run SAAS in parallel with perpetual licences on subscription, so why not maintain this choice?
    “The software will get better, faster and more seamless in the way you use it.” I would hope so now that you are charging more than double the cost to use it.
    Fact 4 “It means that millions of you are already seeing the benefits of shifting to subscription and are making that choice voluntarily” Agree that subscription keeps everyone up with the latest technologies. But let’s be clear Autodesk, many people have NOT done this voluntarily, the alternative is no longer available after July 31!

  11. AvatarJames Maeding

    Your flagship product, AutoCAD, is not SAAS. The licensing might be term based, but its the same old desktop app it always was, so obviously SAAS is not essential for proper software evolution.