Monday, March 29, 2010

Cloud Computing and Chromium OS

Personally I am big fan of cloud applications delivery.It is the future of software industry. Pack zeros and ones into paper boxes and deliver it via mailbox sounds really archaic to me. From user point of view, I am tired of all the installations, updates, reinstallations, licensing setups, modules activations..and doing the same again and again because of new updates...

I just want to log in to my tool and use it. When I don’t need it, I don’t want to carry it on.

With respect to hardware virtualization, the performance factor can be very significant benefit for CAE analysis application. After couple of years using notebook for my work, I am considering to switch back to desktop, and keep my old notebook just for remote access using RDP. In fact, I am not the first one having this idea, check out BIM on Cloud from one of my favorite sources AECbytes. Using same budget, I can have some 8-core with 12GB RAM, Crossfire or Fermi Graphics, SSD drive..Show me notebook having that in same price range.

The common misunderstanding is referring to cloud as strictly internet hype. That is not real way to go for software companies like Scia. I can hardly imagine specialized structural engineers sharing results of design for nuclear power plant over web. But in fact, company cloud can bring same benefits, with high level of security and privacy.

I will post more about my ideas and thoughts about this technology in future.


I want to start with test drive of one of the available beta versions of Chromium OS, which you can boot from flash drive.

I used Flow build by hexxeh. What to say about author of this build – This guy is just 17 years old, and any company should be already interested in hiring him ;)

Installation, boot and login was smooth. I didn’t noticed any problems when using Chrome at the office or at home, connecting via LAN or wifi. There is not that much to review or describe –it is just web browser with minimum configuration options. Separate application tab is in fact bookmark page for cloud or web applications. Booting time is amazing compared to my Vista PC.   I am usually able to prepare morning tea and have short conversation with everybody in the office during Vista boot. This is not the case for Chrome.


I was expecting to have Scia Engineer running on Chrome OS. Unfortunately, I was not successful using any technology I know. For RDP you need Active X,  for VNC javascript. For services like Teamviewer you need to pay or download client. I was only able to stream desktop from the other computer, but obviously this is not making headline  “Scia Engineer running on Chrome OS”. I was not successful - this time.

Project Butterfly

I tested couple of more apps I know in Chrome OS environment. Most likely you are not interested in review of Google talk or Facebook.

I pointed Chrome OS Browser to Autodesk Project Butterfly homepage.  It is fully working application with great user experience, even supports Google maps.


Solidworks Blueprint

The difference to Solidworks Blueprint is the technology of User Interface.

While Butterfly is using Flash , Blueprint runs Microsoft Silverlight, and Silverlight is not supported in Chrome OS browser yet. This was a bit disappointing to me, since I am starting to be big Silverlight fan. I am planning to do some prototyping using Expression Blend.  Just check out how CAD User Interface can look in Silverlight.




Project Twitch

Last apps I wanted to test under Chromium OS were Autodesk Project Twitch application trials.  Apparently, I am not living in USA or Canada, so this service is not available for me yet. Log in using IP anonymizer or proxy could result in completely different experience as expected. As described in video below, Project Twitch needs client to download, which is not available under Chromium yet.


What are my conclusions ? Even that Chrome OS is not officially released yet, I can already imagine running client PC with this OS for real engineering work. I would use this PC to access high performance workstation which runs in company network. IT admin will take care about software and hardware updates - in fact about the whole workstation. And what I would do ? Finally just concentrate on engineering and creative work…

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