In previous articles we have already commented on the possibilities of free software to carry out CFD or finite element simulation projects. These softwares suppress one of the main economic barriers when considering this type of project: the purchase or rental of expensive licenses. However, business licenses are sometimes required to tackle more complex projects. In such situations, in addition to the added cost, we have the additional problem of the need for powerful computers.
In this article we will talk about how we can overcome these problems by making use of the new paradigm of simulations: simulations in the cloud or “cloud-computing”, explaining its main advantages.
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As we have already said, big software distributors tend to sell their products as annual packages with very high costs. These costs do not have a great impact on large companies that have numerous projects, but it is an important handicap for smaller companies, since they need powerful investments with the risk of no return if not enough projects are performed.
Simulations in the cloud offer the advantage of paying per use, that is, only the hours that the simulation has been running are paid. In this way we completely eliminate the need for investments since the company that is simulating can directly charge its client the costs of renting the cloud service.
User experience advantages.
Commercial simulation software usually requires a complex installation process, as this includes license activation, selection of necessary modules, etc. Using cloud software, the simulation can be accessed quickly once we have a user account, starting from scratch. In the same way, the learning process is usually shorter, and the technical service is offered more immediately, as it is a service that is managed by an external company.
Working in the cloud offers quite a few extras in terms of accessibility. On the one hand, teamwork is greatly facilitated by having an interface hosted on the internet. Carrying out projects together, viewing results or accessing technical support are functions that we can perform quickly without the need to share files or be in the same physical location.
On the other hand, thanks also to web hosting, we can access data anywhere, anytime and through multiple devices. All that is needed is a stable internet connection.
Computing capacity advantages.
Perhaps the second most important advantage after the economic one, as it is related to it, is the computing capacity that we obtain using cloud services.
When carrying out complex design and optimization projects, it is more than likely that we will have to perform multiple simulations in parallel, to evaluate various alternatives. This implies that we will need powerful equipment with a large number of cores, which can be too expensive, or even consume too much power. This problem can be solved using cloud services, which allow us to run multiple simulations at the same time on different servers and using the cores we consider necessary.
Another important aspect to take into account in this regard is the need to maintain the infrastructure of the equipment if we choose to work with our own servers. In the case of working in the cloud, we completely eliminate this cost, and avoid stoppages in projects due to problems, since it is an external company that guarantees us that this does not happen.
As we have seen, it seems that cloud simulations represent a major revolution in the world of simulations. Of course, depending on the cases, it may be convenient to have our own infrastructure that allows us to have greater control, but it seems that this is only applicable if we are a large company.
As a final note, it would be interesting to mention that, in case we want to further reduce costs, cloud computing services also offer to run simulations of various free software. Although we do not have to pay for the entire license, running simulations of commercial software in the cloud has a higher cost than using free software, in which we would only have to pay for the use of servers and hours used.