Posts Tagged ‘SaaS’

SaaS & Cloud Computing EDA Roundtable @ DVCon

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I’ve been writing about Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Cloud Computing as relates to EDA for some time now. Then back in January I made a New Years resolution to organize a SaaS EDA roundtable at the 2009 Design and Verification Conference (DVCon).  About a month ago I asked for volunteers and several of you have stepped up to help. Now, just a week before DVCon, I’d like to formally announce the event.

The SaaS and Cloud Computing Roundtable will be held from 6:30 - 8:00 pm on Wed Feb 25th in the Monterey/Carmel rooms at the San Jose Doubletree Hotel. This is immediately following the DVCon reception down the hall, so grab a drink and a bite and then wander on over.

SaaS and Cloud Computing are 2 of the hottest trends in the Information Technology and software industries. Some EDA companies have already put their toes in the water. This roundtable will explore the following question: Are they trailblazing the future of the industry or are they chasing an empty fad?

The format will consist of 5 brief (< 10 minute) presentations from people involved in various perspectives in SaaS and cloud computing for EDA:

This will be followed by an open, and hopefully lively, discussion.

I’m greatly looking forward to this event, especially since I get to collaborate with such a high-powered team and I have no idea what to expect. I truly believe that this could be one of the more interesting events at DVCon this year.

I hope to see many of you there.

harry the ASIC guy

 

SaaS - With None of the Benefits

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

A friend just made me aware of a new “No EDA Tool Purchase” plan from Blue Pearl Software.

Hmmm …. sounds like Software-as-a-Service with none of the benefits for customer or vendor:

  • Customer still needs to generate a PO. (By old school thinking, that’s a way to “qualify” the customer.  New school, that’s a barrier to customers actually trying your tool).
  • Still need to install software at the customer’s site. (”What OS are you running? What version? Do you have the right version of ActiveTcl installed?” Ugh!!!)
  • Still need to incur the cost of travel. (Nuff said)
  • Have to get the work done in a 2-day fixed window (Is anything ever done in this short a timeframe? If not, then what?)
  • Have to schedule to when the AE is available, so customer can’t do this on a moment’s notice. (How does a month from now sound … Oh … never mind … AE is out that week … how about the following week).
  • Need to dedicate an AE full-time per customer. (What’s he do while the customer goes to meetings?)

Instead, why not:

  • make the software available online
  • let the designer upload his RTL and work from his desk
  • let the AE work remotely from his office

No PO required. No installation issues. No travel. Easy to schedule and staff and extend if needed. (See what Xuropa is doing). Heck, why not just sell the software that way while you’re at it.

Maybe I’m missing something.  Maybe someone from Blue Pearl wants to explain what the thinking behind this is.

And if you’re interested in topics like this, stay tuned for more on the upcoming SaaS EDA Roundtable at DVCon.

harry the ASIC guy

SaaS EDA Roundtable at DVCON

Friday, January 16th, 2009

I’m arranging for a meeting room for an EDA SaaS roundtable discussion at DVCon in San Jose sometime between Feb 24 - Feb 26.  What I need is some volunteers to help me organize this event. For instance:

  • What will be the format and topics for discussion?
  • Who will be the key participants?
  • What do we hope to get out of this event?
  • Who is bringing the refreshments?

If you are concerned about the time commitment, I think it will be fairly minimal.  I was part of a group that helped organize the Blogger Birds of a Feather session at DAC last year and it took about an hour on 3-4 Saturday mornings.

If you would like to be part of the planning for this event, please let me know.

Also, if your company would like to be part of the roundtable, please let me know as well.

harry the ASIC guy

Change Everything By Changing One Thing

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

As usual, I came across another great post by Seth Godin regarding pricing models.

Netflix revolutionized the movie rental business simply by charging by the month rather than by the rental.

Apple changed the music industry with iTunes by letting me download only the songs I like for just 99 cents each rather than pay for the whole album.

Nokia is changing the music industry once more with their “Comes With Music” phone. It comes with unlimited music downloads from the 4 top labels for a fixed subscription fee rather than me paying for each download.

Adobe is now offering a free online version of Photoshop that lets me do almost everything I can do with the professional full priced version.

In all these examples … changing the pricing model changed everything.

What if EDA companies priced their tools like a subscription? A fixed fee gets you any tool they have as long as you only use one license at a time.

Or pay-per-use? Need to do some regression sims? Just pay for the number of sims you do.

Or what about tiered pricing? Full price for the 1st license and less for each additional license?

Sure, these are pretty whacky ideas for an industry as mature as EDA. But maybe that’s what the industry needs.  Someone to change everything by changing just one thing … their pricing model.

harry the ASIC guy

2009 New Years Resolutions

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Back in March when I launched this blog, my goal was “to share my insights into the people aspects of ASIC engineering”. Now, 10 months and 50 posts later, with the start of 2009, it’s time to take stock and make some 2009 New Years Resolutions.  Here we go:

#1 - I resolve to write shorter and more frequent posts. - Specifically, my goal is to provide a new post 2 times a week and most of them will take less than 5 minutes to read.  By doing this, I hope to be more responsive to what is going on in the industry and provide fresher content. Once in a while I’ll still put up a lengthy post, but that will be the exception.

#2 - I resolve to enable some sort of online community  - So far, the conversation has been mostly from me to you (the readers) and occasionally between the you (through comments). I’d like to get us all involved in doing something meaningful and important in the industry. I’ve had this idea for a while that I called “the ASIC guild” that would be a community of ASIC designers helping each other access career training and job opportunities. With all the layoffs in the industry lately, I think this is very timely. Look for something real soon, but I will need a lot of help. So please let me know if you are interested in helping.

#3 - SaaS for EDA Roundtable - Over the last few months, I’ve blogged quite a bit on the idea of Software-as-a-Service for EDA. A fellow blogger suggested that I organize a roundtable discussion on this topic and I am shooting for DVCON (Feb 24-26) to hold this.  This will also require your help, so please let me know if you are interested in helping to organize or be a part of this.

What do you all think?  Are these the right things to shoot for in 2009?

harry the ASIC guy

Streams or Fences?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

While growing up in the concrete jungle of New York (Brooklyn to be exact), I developed an interest in the natural world that I got to see too little of. I almost never missed a Sunday night episode of Marlon Perkins and Jim Fowler on Wild Kingdom.  And now, of course, there are dozens of regular shows on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, and on and on and on.

If you’ve watched any of these shows then you know that there is a universal truth in nature. Where there is water, there will be life.  Find a stream and you will find water which nourishes plant life which is food for small animals which are food for larger animals. A stream becomes an oasis of life … a little ecosystem that supports itself and flourishes.

Once they find such an oasis, animals won’t leave on their own.   Even if there may be something better far away, it’s not worth the risk of the trip, because they have all they need. But sometimes nature intervenes. Perhaps there is a drought and the water dries up and the plants fade away. Then the animals have no choice but to look for “greener pastures”.

When animals were first domesticated, shepherds understood this principle and concerned themselves primarily with the care of the flock (imagine some pristine image of David). They knew that the sheep would not stray as long as they were provided for. Ranchers understood this as well, but eventually the they started to worry about other ranchers rustling cattle.  So they built fences to keep the cattle rustlers out and to keep their cattle from straying.

In business, companies have a choice … to focus their time and efforts on creating streams that satisfy their customers’ needs or to create fences to keep the customers in and the competition out. In EDA, the industry leaders have done both.

  • More than a decade ago, Synopsys was an innovator by creating SolvIt! (now Solvnet), a 24/7/365 available knowledge database that enables uncountable designers to solve problems on the weekend or in the middle of the night. I have spoken to several Synopsys customers who cite Solvnet as one of the key reasons they stay with Synopsys tools. Solvnet is a stream.
  • Just a few months ago, Cadence launched it’s Online User Community. Extended from it’s existing user forums, this community offers access to Cadence and designer tool expertise and interaction with those driving the direction of future tools. This is also a stream.
  • Over the last several years, Synopsys has resisted customer requests to offer short-term (e.g. monthly or weekly) licenses for peak use, so that customers could match their license usage with peak needs. They feared that such an offering would jeopardize longer term sales and  lower switching costs for customers. This is a fence. (To be fair, Synopsys has recently started offering short-term e-licensing options)
  • Cadence recently kicked dozens of competitors out of its Connections Program. This is a fence.

I’m not such an idealist to think that EDA companies will focus entirely on creating streams and not consider the competition.  That would be foolhardy. But there is a corporate culture, a corporate mission, that is either focused on the customer or focused on the competition.  That’s a key difference.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about Cloud Computing and Software-as-a-Service for EDA. Some feel it is inevitable. Others point out all the barriers that exist.  Ultimately, I think it boils down to one simple question:

  • Does the EDA industry as a whole, and do EDA companies individually, see their mission as creating streams or building fences?

If just one company sets as it’s mission to build a cloud computing stream, a SaaS oasis, to nourish the design community, then it’s going to happen. And designers and customers will come.

On the other hand, if the EDA industry focuses on building fences to lock customers into long-term agreements, to discourage interoperability, and to squash standardization efforts, then nothing will change and the industry will dry up and die.

It’s up to you. Go build a stream.

harry the ASIC guy

Gary Smith & EE Times Must Read This Blog!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Thanks to Sean Murphy who alerted me to the 2 part piece (here and here) in EE Times on Cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service for EDA.

Those of you who have been reading this blog have already heard me discuss this topic (several times)and many of you have already added your thoughts to the conversation.  It looks like Daya Nadamuni and Gary Smith must either read my blog or have independently realized how the EDA industry is moving.  Either way, given Gary Smith’s and EE Times’ street cred, this will likely help to accelerate any move in that direction.

There is a lot more to be said, so look for my next post where I’ll address the EE Times articles directly.

Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US.

harry the ASIC guy

Facebook & Salesforce - What Does it Mean?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Two weeks ago, at their annual Dreamforce Conference, Facebook and Salesforce.com announced that they had jointly developed technology that will integrate within pages on the popular social networking site the enterprise apps from the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Customer Relationship Management (CRM) vendor. As an example of this integration, they demonstrated an app that can leverage the social aspects of Facebook to determine what “friends” on the service might be possible candidates for a job listing. As a result, recruiters can more easily reach a larger number of more qualified candidates and job seekers can be notified of potentially interesting job opportunities.  The app will automatically log where the referral came from and credit the friend with the referral.  Future integration with LinkedIn and MySpace should be forthcoming.

Besides improving the recruiting and job seeking process, there are 3 other aspects of this collaboration that are noteworthy and bring up possible applications in the EDA space.

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First, as stated in Denis Pombriant’s CRM blog,

using Facebook’s widgets and up-to-date demographic data, companies can develop applications that leverage customer knowledge that enables them to better sponsor and understand communities of interest without the expensive and time-consuming effort of keeping a customer list current. By definition, a user of Facebook or other social site will keep his or her data current out of necessity, and this will move us a long way toward relieving the problems associated with aging lists and duplicate entries.”

Just as recruiters can find better potential job candidates, EDA vendors and design services companies can find better potential customers and clients. If you are a small EDA company that already uses their software, why not build an app on Force.com that links to Facebook or LinkedIn to find potential customers? Not for the purpose of spamming them (please!!!), but for the purpose of identifying those who might truly benefit from your products and services so you can contact them directly. Alternatively, if you’re not a Salesforce.com customer, I’m sure that James Colgan would point out that there is also the professional user community at Xuropa that can serve a similar purpose. You could contact your prospect as follows:

“Hi Joe. My name is Harry Gries and I’m an independent ASIC Methodology Consultant. I noticed from your public profile that you are currently designing an extremely complex ASICs with some leading edge technologies and tools. Personally, I have over 20 years experience (over 14 years in the EDA industry) working with advanced technologies and methodologies and have helped several clients identify the right tools to use and put together working methodologies. If you feel you might have need for someone like me, please contact me through my profile.  Or, if you feel someone else might be interested, please pass on my contact info. Thanks for your time, Harry”.

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The second interesting aspect is the increasingly acknowledged business application and utility of social media. Just today I reminisced with a co-worker about the early days of the Internet when web sites were blocked because employees would “waste time” surfing the net. He remarked that today, if we were to block access to the internet, we’d have legitimate outcries that employees could not get their job done. The internet has become indispensible, for googling a technical term, for accessing product information and users’ experiences, for keeping up-to-date on industry news and technical breakthroughs. I expect that social media sites, such as Facebook, will soon be acknowledged as just as indispensible as more traditional web sites today.

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The third and final  interesting aspect is how the #4 provider in the CRM industry is “upsetting the applecart”. Continuing from Denis Pombriant’s CRM blog,

“…it was not any of the larger and older (and richer) software giants that made the announcement. Instead, it was a relative newcomer yet to celebrate its 10th birthday, and with revenues only a fraction of Oracle, SAP, or Microsoft, that made the news.

So why didn’t Oracle, SAP, or Microsoft, come to this conclusion and build a product? A good question. The answer rests less on technology — any of them could develop the technology — and more on temperament. Of the four companies, only Salesforce.com has an on-demand or Software as a Service vision not clouded by the need to preserve a massive legacy code base and the considerable revenue stream it represents. In short, Salesforce.com did this because it could and because it has a clear understanding of the future of computing.”

Three big industry leaders … the need to preserve a revenue stream … sound familiar?

harry the ASIC guy

Who’s Right, Gary or Seth?

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Last Friday, I took the 45 minute drive from Torrance to Montrose to have coffee with Gary, a successful entrepreneur who is one of the founders of a fledgling IP company. I was introduced to Gary by a friend at Synopsys who suggested that I meet him because he’s had great success and has a lot of insight into how to run a successful business.

Gary brought along his partner, Art, and we had a very good conversation, almost an hour and a half. We discussed what I was working on, what his company was working on, and my revolutionary ideas about the EDA industry. Gary has a lot of experience and he provided some insights I had not heard before:

  • How can EDA companies provide flexible pricing to smaller customers and not to their biggest customers?
  • Software-as-a-Service works for cookie cutter processes like sales and HR and expense reports but not for customized processes like EDA tool flows

And he enforced some feedback that I had heard before:

  • Why would a large EDA company want to cannibalize their long-term license sales with short-term licenses?
  • It’s been tried before and failed.
  • The guys with power have no reason to change the status quo.  They are holding 4 aces.

In short, my discussion with Gary amounted to this … your idea has tremendous value to the end user, the designer, the customer, the small startup or design services company … but the big boys, who have all the power, have no incentive to play ball, and every incentive to leave everything as it is. Gary never came out and said this verbatim, but the message was clear … “you don’t stand a chance!”

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As I drove back from my meeting with Gary, a little discouraged, yet grateful for the honest feedback, I turned on the audiobook version of Seth Godin’s new book Tribes : We Need You To Lead Us, which I wrote about in my last post. Somewhere around downtown LA, near Chinatown, I heard the following:

“All you need to know is 2 things.

  • The first thing you need to know is that individuals have far more power than ever before in history. One person can change an industry. One person can declare war. One person can reinvent science or politics or technology.
  • The second thing you need to know is that the only thing holding you back from becoming the kind of person who changes things is this: lack of faith. Faith that you can do it. Faith that it’s worth doing. Faith that failure won’t destroy you.

… More and more people, good people, people on a mission, with ideas that matter, are stepping forward and making a difference … An individual, or a small group, has the power to turn an existing system on its head. Now, most of the time, we call heretics, leaders. The heretics are winning. You can, no, you must, join them.”

In short, Seth Godin’s book “Tribes” amounted to this … the technology that is available today via the internet (blogs, podcasts, social networks, etc, etc, etc)  provides the leverage to enable one person to initiate and lead a movement that can change the world. All that is necessary is to conquer the fear, to selflessly lead a tribe of people where they already want to go, to enable them to work together to achieve the goal. The message was clear … “you can do it!”

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So, who’s right, Gary or Seth? This will sound like a cop out, but they are both right.

Gary is right about all the challenges that exist to keep a change from happening.  In EDA, as in many industries, the status quo has tremendous inertia. Those who benefit from the status quo are usually those who have the most tangible power. And they will use that power to maintain the status quo. For all the reasons that Gary gave me.

And Seth is right, that despite all the reasons that change is hard to initiate, change can be ignited from a single spark. And long established industry giants can fall.

Look at the music industry, where the accessibility of music production and distribution capabilities has made the record companies increasingly irrelevant. Independent artists can self-produce and self-distribute their work, without have to sell their futures to the record companies.

It will be the same in the EDA industry. Independent EDA tool developers will be able to self-produce and self-distribute their work, without having to look to an acquisition by one of the “big 3″. I’d like to lead this movement, but I need to be honest … I’m a little scared.

  • Scared for my reputation as a reasonable level headed person.
  • Scared for my relationships with people in the EDA industry who stand to lose out from this change.
  • Scared that I’ll waste several years chasing something that is never going to happen.

I’d like to know that I am not alone. That others will offer their support, their time, their effort, to make this happen. That we can build a Tribe that can change the industry.

If you agree with me … if you feel the same as I do … then let me know. Encourage me so I can encourage you.

And we’ll change the world. (Well, at least the EDA industry).

 harry the ASIC guy

Leverage Can Be Your Friend

Monday, September 29th, 2008

During these last few weeks of the subprime mortgage crisis in the US, many of us have become all too familiar with the term “leverage” as it applies to those entities that used to be called investment banks.  That kind of leverage is very powerful and is also very dangerous, as we all found out.

There is a 2nd type of leverage that we engineers learned about in basic physics. As Archimedes once said, “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.”

But there is 3rd type of leverage that is “the power or ability to act or to influence people, events, decisions, etc.” Some people call it ROI. I’d like to share with you three examples that recently came to my attention whereby one small EDA company in our industry is using the principles of leverage to try to “move the world”.

Productive EDA

I came across these guys through my Google Reader when the President, Jeremy Ralph, posted the following new product announcement to the OVM World blogs.  Jeremy cleverly used the power of OVM World to reach hundreds (thousands?) of potential customers.  And what did he invest? Only the time it took to write the blog post and put it up.

That’s leverage!

But wait, there’s more.  Jeremy caught my interest when he called the SpectaReg product a Web2.0 application, so I clicked to view the press release and was pleasantly surprised to see that their “products are available online, at lower cost, as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)”. Well, I had been fooled just last week into thinking that Cadence was completely entering the SaaS market, so I wanted to make sure. After all, as President George W. Bush once cautioned, “fool me once, shame on…shame on you…you fool me, you can’t get fooled again.” So I spoke to “President Ralph” on the phone, and indeed, this truly is a Web-based Software-as-a-Service, pay-per-use offering. Using the power of the internet and SaaS, his company is able to deploy its software to virtually any customer of any size anywhere, all from their office in Vancouver, BC.

That’s leverage!

But wait, there’s still more. I pointed Jeremy to xuropa.com, a recently launched online electronic design community and tradeshow platform, that I covered back in June and again three weeks ago. To his credit, Jeremy was already aware of Xuropa. I’m not sure where that will go, but his small EDA company would be able to reach even more potential customers worldwide and provide product training and evaluations through their online labs.

That’s leverage!

Leverage can be your friend. These new media business-to-business (B2B) strategies can enable smaller EDA companies like Productive EDA, which is exactly the type of company that I was considering when I wrote on my blog three weeks ago:

The pieces are coming together for a revolution in EDA. Like most revolutions, it is starting small, hardly noticed by the big guys on the block. In the next 5 years, it will change our industry forever by leveling the playing field, allowing smaller EDA companies to compete with larger ones, giving customers greater flexibility on how and when they access tools and which vendor’s tools they use.

Indeed, leverage can be your friend.

harry the ASIC guy