One of the more startling statements at the recent Electronic Design Processes (EDP) workshop
came in a presentation from James Colgan, CEO of Xuropa. At one point he
appeared to be saying that software-as-a-service (SaaS) is not the
right model for EDA, at least not for quite some time. But Xuropa was set up to
build an infrastructure for cloud computing and
SaaS for EDA. Did I hear James correctly?
Yes, but some clarification is needed. James' comment came
as he described what he calls the "cloud computing stack." In his view, it
consists of three elements:
The crucial point is the anything above IaaS requires a
rewrite, and with complex EDA applications, that just isn't likely to happen.
Thus IaaS, not pure SaaS, represents the best current model for EDA, James
suggested. His presentation went on to show how Xuropa supports IaaS while
providing a web browser, user interface, identity management, security, and
other features on top of Amazon Web Services or internal data centers.
In a Xuropa
blog following the EDP workshop, James introduced "hybrid-SaaS" as a
"different type of SaaS" for enterprise software applications. Ideally, hybrid-SaaS
requires no code rewrites, permits easy installation,
and allows secure access by customers. James wrote that "because we're not going to re-write our code, we need to start at the infrastructure layer (IaaS) and work up." He promises more details about hybrid-SaaS in future Xuropa
Meanwhile, as I noted in a September
Industry Insights blog, Cadence Incisive
Verification IP (VIP) is available for evaluation on Xuropa Online Labs. Users can
test over 40 VIP products using Incisive Enterprise Simulator and Incisive
Enterprise Manager, with no need to purchase or license anything. As I wrote at
the time, this highly successful collaboration is not "pure" SaaS, since users
aren't getting actual design work done. Perhaps it is "hybrid-Saas." No matter
to end users - it's simply a fast and easy way to evaluate VIP.
James noted in his EDP presentation that a wholesale migration
to pure SaaS "is not going to happen. But if we take key aspects of it, the
cloud does make a lot of sense."
I think this gradual approach to SaaS does make sense.
Meanwhile, definitions of "cloud computing" and "SaaS" have been, shall we say,
a bit cloudy. Xuropa will do a service to the industry if it can help bring
Despite that a Xuropa user isn't getting a pure engineering workstation to evaluate Cadence or other products (e.g., OCP-IP, Sonics, etc.), they are still able to see an enclosed lab to demonstrate stuff like Cadence's VIP. That's a more interactive experience than reading a PDF brochure or PPT presentation, or viewing a video demo captured by an AE or product manager. And this cloud approach also eliminates the 'evaluation hassle' of downloading the software IP and ordering a 30 day evaluation license. (Let's not even talk about the pre-Internet bad old days when a local Cadence AE, or one that flies in if you are a big cheese, brings CD ROM's or ... *gasp* ... DAT tapes! And I'm not THAT old!)
What's cool about Xuropa is that I have been able to experience it on an Apple Powerbook G4, with which I could not otherwise run any sort of EDA trials or evaluations (even cursory ones, as Xuropa now offers). Heck, I can't run Google Talk until my Intel-based Macbook Pro arrives! :)