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.


Loon said...

so which of the softwares to do you have to endure?

From the rights comment, i'm guessing Inventor, and some AutoCAD?

and as somone who's spent too much of my life watching the Adesk installations, anything on your list would be a vast improvement.

Anonymous said...

not that I'm letting AD$K off the hook or anything, but 2 me u r confirming "your corp" "Corp X" has major inhouse "Ix" management issues to deal with... #1 obvious "Ix" issue 2 me is delivering CAD apps to users running local installs? c'mon! from an IS mgmt perspective this approach is like expecting it to be easy to keep 20,000 airplanes flying from a remote console as 20,000 pilots r doing their best to crash em ;) speaking from personal experience, even in much smaller enviros than yours, u will never quickly, accurately or easily keep all your CAD apps running 100% as you will constantly battle OS group policies, data management schemes, etc. that r the problem whether your users r liteweight app users, CAD users, AD$K users, or not...

Eric Stover said...

Hi Skatterbrainz,

I read your post and wanted to repond on behalf of Autodesk.

My name is Eric Stover and I work in the product/engineering organization for ADSK.

Thanks for taking the time to list out both the problems and suggestions you have for deploying our software.

I would like to set up some time with you and several members of my team to walk through these issues so that we can fully understand and document your requirements for our future product work.

(I would also be willing to talk to anyone in your readership who has similar thoughts/issues.)

Send me a note and I'll set some time up.

My contact information follows:

Eric Stover
Customer Experience Manager

skatterbrainz said...

Dear Anonymous - I have to work within the confines of what "corp X" allows me to do. That is the world I live in. It is the world many of us live in. I am given Wise Package Studio and Altiris to package with. That is not the problem. The problems I've listed have nothing whatsoever to do with either of those or any platform or environment issues. They are specific to the products and the product features described. I appreciate your comment.

skatterbrainz said...

Thanks Eric! I am out of the office this week in a training class. I will be glad to contact you on Monday to see what day/time works for us. I look forward to this. As I said: I too would like to see a better, friendlier product and a happier customer.

Anonymous said...

...wondering why it takes a blog post from a frustrated user in order to generate the offer from Autodesk?

Would a "not-so-public" letter from a user to Autodesk generate this kind of response, or just be ignored?

skatterbrainz said...

Dear Anonymous: I really cannot answer that question. I didn't expect any response from my post actually, let alone from someone at Autodesk. Keep hope alive.