Thoughts from Autodesk University 2013: The Future of Workstation Computing

During Autodesk University 2013 earlier this month I had the opportunity to participate alongside technologists from HP and Intel in a panel session exploring the latest technology trends and the future of workstation computing for design professionals.  We held a lively and engaging discussion, including interaction with an audience of more than 1,000, uncovering interesting perspectives on a range of topics including cloud, mobility, innovation, the internet of things/big data and 3D printing.

I’m particularly passionate about technology that gets out of the way of the creative process so I enjoyed sharing some of the advancements Dell is leading in workstations that enable people to increase productivity and realize their innovative ideas faster.

One trend we examined was about moving the workstation out from under the desk — and into the datacenter or onto the road. The idea of the workstation as a fixed place where you do your work and keep all your data has changed as has the notion of there being a 1:1 ratio between a user and a single piece of hardware. We’ve seen this trend for nearly a decade with servers and Enterprise applications, but now we’re moving into the era of the virtualized workstation and flexible, personalized client devices to enable collaboration and design.  This won’t apply to all use cases but it’s definitely interesting as it moves IT to address new considerations around deploying new technologies including networking and storage.

Another thought provoking session centered on when people work.  Innovation is no longer restricted to 9 to 5 at the office, the creative spark can happen any time of day.  Workstations need to adapt to fit the lifestyle of today’s professional.  As Dell Precision continues our own innovative journey, our platforms will continue to evolve from classic fixed machines, to mobile workstations, to ultra-mobile but still very capable design products as exemplified by the striking new Dell Precision M3800. In spaces where users need excellent mobility but may require traditional big iron performance to take advantage of the BYOD movement, workload in the cloud solutions will become the norm for Dell and the customers we aspire to inspire.

We also looked at the workspace of the future and how new innovations such as gesture technology might be a fit.  Don’t expect future workflows to be confined just to a keyboard or a touchscreen; it could be a projection onto a workspace or your desk that the user or multiple users can manipulate in a collaborative session.

These are truly exciting time as we see significant advancements within the workstation space around how technology can be used to enhance creation and the rewards that follow — be it passion or profitability.  I welcome you to check out the recording of the panel below and weigh in with your  own comments and questions!

About the Author: Andy Rhodes