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Autodesk Vault - Under the Hood

Why Now?

Over the past several years, the Vault team has made customer feedback an integral part of the product development process. Our development team meets with customers at their facilities, in Autodesk offices, at conferences, and online throughout the year to capture feedback from across the Vault community. Plans for upcoming releases are shaped by market needs more than ever before.

All of the feedback events have gone virtual this year, but we’ve found that interest in using Autodesk Vault data management has increased. We’re bringing on more new customers, hosting more online events, and delivering more briefings focused on what’s new and what’s coming to keep up with requests.

To help scale up, we launched a new roadmap site last week focused on the latest in Autodesk® Vault software development. It gives you a quick way to get up to speed on recent releases, plus a glimpse of what we’re working on for the future and ways to connect with us to share feedback. You can check it out here—it’s live now!

Some background on Autodesk Vault

Around the clock and the globe, manufacturing and construction firms are converting their best ideas into the data that fuels their business. The CAD models, simulation results, CAM toolpaths, bills of material, drawings, spec sheets, and content generated all must be effectively managed across distributed teams. This data is complex, and our customers choose Autodesk Vault data management because Vault knows the models, references, drawings, rules, automations, and roles that teams need to manage well to help them win business and complete projects.

Vault understands complex design and engineering data

Vault deeply understands the complex data involved in design and engineering – this is why billions of files are managed in Vault servers around the globe.

Since Vault’s launch 20 years ago, it has become a highly trusted data management system for Autodesk design and engineering data, with thousands of Vault servers around the globe hosting literally billions of files. With that kind of scale, we see many requests from many different roles and industries. However, the future needs we hear about generally boil down into a few key areas.

Adopting new ways of working

One big one is that our customers are rapidly adopting new ways of working. Much of what used to only get done in an office cubicle is now happening everywhere. Vault data needs to be available where the design reviews happen, where the parts are ordered or made, where business is won in the field, and where important decisions are made.

Our customers expect reliable access to data and the ability to move projects forward wherever they may be. They want to be able to work with their data efficiently, whether they are designing in their CAD system, making a decision on the production line, or taking care of something at home.

Expanding collaboration

We also hear a lot about the need for expanded collaboration. Autodesk Vault itself is built from the ground up to enable collaboration within a development team. However, we see more and more participants playing a role in projects. Manufacturing engineers, managers, quality departments, sales reps, and more are participating in reviews and providing feedback as projects proceed.

Signaling this need for more integrated collaboration, interest in tools that extend Vault beyond the engineering department like Autodesk Drive, Fusion 360, and BIM 360 has risen. Shared Views is another example focusing on collaboration beyond the engineering department, where daily usage has doubled in the past year alone. We expect this heightened need for collaboration to continue well into the future.

Increasing business resiliency

Lastly, resiliency is something we see weighing on the minds of many global manufacturers. They increasingly need efficient ways of quickly connecting across divisions or with new suppliers. They have to be able to securely exchange data in a controlled way throughout their ecosystem, providing the right level of access to the right data at the right time. Doing so gives them the ability to rapidly adjust to changing constraints and scale to meet new demand.

The pandemic didn’t create these needs, but it has certainly accelerated them and caused the entire manufacturing and construction industry to think strategically about where and how to respond. With that increasing urgency in mind and the disclaimer below (*), we wanted to share where we intend to take Vault in the future so our customers can understand its direction and join us on the journey.

Where we are headed with Autodesk Vault

The Autodesk Vault roadmap highlights areas we’re working on to deliver a Vault that’s more Modern, Connected, and Insightful. These concepts are framing our thinking across many Autodesk products; let’s dive into some specifics on what these mean in the context of Vault:

Modern

The aim here is to deliver Autodesk products that are forward-looking and purpose-built for the customers we serve around the globe. A modern Vault must enable the new ways people need to work, so focus on role-based needs and flexibility are key.

One example we’re working on in this area is the ability for a designer to see contextual data like uses/where-used and associated Engineering Change Orders directly inside the CAD system without needing to open up a separate Vault Client. This lets them work inside the tool where they’re most comfortable and more quickly and easily see all the information they need at-a-glance without firing up a separate application. On the surface, it appears like a small change, but for this kind of user it can make a noticeable difference in helping them work the way they want day-to-day.

Working in Inventor and want to see details on your data? Access information about where models are used, bill of material, and related change orders at-a-glance. It’s one of many ways we’re fine-tuning the Vault experience to make it more modern and performant for the future.

Connected

This is all about connecting Vault users and collaborators to their data and each other – anytime, anywhere. One significant example of this is the Autodesk Vault mobile app. In November last year, customer surveys indicated over 60% are looking for an easy way to access data while on the go. We’re looking to enable that by delivering a rich Vault experience on both phones and tablets, with great search, viewing, and change management capabilities on both iOS and Android.

Another big one is a new capability we call “Vault Cloud Connect,” which is an option to extend access to Vault data to specified collaborators of interest, including different suppliers or collaborators outside the firewall. It allows users to continue to manage engineering data and collaborate when outside of the office network, providing greater flexibility and extensibility when they need it.

Nowadays, everyone needs to be able to access their data at any time, anywhere. Vault is becoming increasingly web-enabled and extending to new platforms with native apps for phones and tablets.

Insightful

This is about enabling our customers to harvest new value from data through automation and analytics. There is notable potential here in the context of Autodesk Vault. One early example delivered a few months ago is Vault’s Duplicate Search capability – essentially a smart searching capability based on 3D geometry.

Duplicate Search can be used to help reduce the effort of managing and releasing duplicate parts, supporting time and cost savings. We’re working on expanding Duplicate Search to include additional filters, as well as expanding to new insights for individuals and teams.

Vault’s Duplicate Search capability helps identify where duplicate geometry exists and enables users to standardize on content. Filters are being added to provide more control, helping you find more relevant results faster.

These are just a few initial examples. The Autodesk Vault product roadmap site itself shares more of what we’re working on and we will continue to update it as things evolve. Over time you can expect to see more there not just about Vault, but our overall approach to building an extensible data platform connecting all of our design and manufacturing products. This is all about leading to a better solution for tomorrow, and we’ll make progress through continued sharing of feedback and ideas. So check out the site and included information about the Vault feedback community. We look forward to the conversation to help aid us in building a better Vault product.

Visit the Vault roadmap

*A reminder on our roadmaps. Please note that we may make statements regarding future events and development efforts for our products and services. These statements reflect our current expectations based on what we know today. Our plans are not intended to be a promise or guarantee of future delivery of products, services, or features, and purchasing decisions should not be made based upon these statements. We do not assume any responsibility to update roadmaps to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after they are published.

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Jon den Hartog

Jon den Hartog, PE, is a Senior Director of Product Management at Autodesk. Jon’s team works closely with Autodesk customers worldwide with focus on Design and Manufacturing. Prior to joining Autodesk, Jon worked in unmanned-aircraft development and was a co-founder of BioLite, a consumer products company in the clean-tech industry. He was awarded the St Andrews Prize for the Environment in 2011 for his work at BioLite and was named in Consulting Specifying Engineer Magazine’s “40 Under 40” list in 2012.

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