Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dear Autodesk: Please Consult your Enterprise Customers

AngryComputer Dear Autodesk,

The next time you embark on the cycle towards a new product release, please keep us 10,000+ computer environments in mind?  Maybe ask us what we’d like to see in your deployment building utilities.  We’ve been suffering though each product release with enormous investments in labor hours dealing with the various inconsistencies, quirks, nuances and so on.  Talking to our “customer rep” has resulted in little more than lip service. 

The impression from our corporate budgetmeisters is that Autodesk sees themselves as having grown to think they are superior to our trivial needs.  This is ironic, since my employer is much larger than Autodesk and has more than 3x your market cap and stock price.  Our IT services routinely deploy to, and support, more than 20,000 computer devices within a mission critical environment.  The scale of our systems is rather significant, even by today’s standards.

We have to re-package your product installation components due to the nature by which your provided “deployment utility” builds images.  They are not built with our environments in mind.  We are required to bundle several of your products into a single “package” for deployment, yet your deployments do not make this feasible. 

I think we kind of deserve a say in how features should shape up.  At least an opportunity to be heard.  So far, we’ve been ignored.  Other vendors like Siemens and Dassault waste no opportunity to pounce on this in front of our board members.  And this is showing gains to their benefit already.  It would serve you well to, at the very least, help improve the opinions of our IT department, whom they listen to for “on the ground” advice about products and strategies.

Some key points to consider:

  • Most large corporate environments do NOT give ordinary users “Admin” or “Power User” rights.
  • We do not like applications making Internet connections without the ability to turn that off entirely.
  • When we say “do not put a shortcut on the desktop” we really mean it.
  • Wrap your installer in something that actually keeps the parent installer process alive whilst the child processes are busy at work?  This would help us folks with SMS, System Center ConfigMgr, Altiris, and so on a great deal.  It would help script writers as well.
  • Raster Design needs to get a leash put on it.  It’s a bit stupid in a network license environment.
  • Standardize your updates!  Please just pick ONE format.  .MSP would be nice.  Right now you have .ZIP, .EXE, .MSP, .MSI, as well as individual files.  This is patently absurd and stupid.
  • Improve your apps to detect corrupt DWG files.  This is preferred over them simply crashing with FATAL ERROR: Unhandled Exception.
  • Make it easier for us to push a custom profile (.arg) and set default shortcuts on the clients.  First launch always reverts them back to vanilla configurations, which breaks this.

This is a start.

I will keep my eyes and ears ready for a response.  If any.  If I do hear something, I will be sure to post a follow-up here.  I too would like to see a better, friendlier product and a happier customer.

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