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Cadence IT Steps Out, Helps Users Develop CAD Infrastructures

Comments(1)Filed under: EDA, Industry Insights, SaaS, CAD, Hosted Design Services, cloud, datacenters, EDA infrastructure, services, IT, data, Cadence IT, CAD infrastructure, VCAD

I always thought that IT departments worked in the background and had no visibility outside the corporate walls. This is not true at Cadence, where IT experts work with the services group to help customers develop and improve their CAD infrastructures - as well as maintain internal "chambers" that provide various levels of compute capability.

As a result, Cadence has resident experts in topics such as cloud computing, geographically-dispersed multi-team collaboration, data security, and "best practices" for improving performance and stability. I plan to tap some of that expertise for future blog posts. But first, I'll provide a brief introduction to the EDA Infrastructure Acceleration Services and hosted chambers offered by Cadence.

Why provide such services? Because building and maintaining a CAD infrastructure is a huge effort and expense, especially for small companies and startups. Even large "power users" frequently run into bottlenecks and need some outside help. Yet most EDA vendors focus only on tools, ignoring the environment in which the tools must run. The EDA360 vision paper notes that the EDA industry must begin to serve project-level and corporate-level needs. The EDA Infrastructure Acceleration Services represents a step in that direction.

"A few years ago, Cadence IT management launched a strategy to redirect the technical expertise and experience of our internal IT professionals towards helping our EDA customers more rapidly achieve their objectives," said Dan Salisbury, corporate vice president for Global IT. "The result has been very uplifting.  Our EDA customers value the technical support, our IT professionals have gained expertise, and a larger percentage of our traditional internal IT investment is now spent helping our EDA clients." 

Improving the Infrastructure

EDA Infrastructure Acceleration Services is an umbrella term that includes these capabilities:

  • Best Practices Sharing - Cadence experts answer customer questions and help solve problems related to Linux, networking, thin clients, security, and a variety of other topics
  • EDA Environment Assessment - A comprehensive design environment evaluation resulting in recommendations to help customers improve performance and stability
  • Design Environment Management - A comprehensive design environment review including licensing and management of EDA tools, and an enabling environment for setup and control
  • Network Optimization - Review of a customer's network infrastructure, followed by suggestions for improvement
  • Data Center Operations - IT infrastructure services tailored to an organization's strategic goals
  • EDA Environment Modeling - Tracking and analyzing operating statistics produced by each component of the design environment, resulting in an ability to forecast potential issues and pitfalls
  • Cadence Security Initiative - Design and implementation of solutions that allow customers to secure and maintain their data
  • Cloud Computing - Assistance with the development and deployment of private and/or public cloud-based solutions

Peter Vincent, senior IT architect for customer enablement at Cadence, noted that IT experts work closely with AEs to provide these services. The top three customer problems, he said, involve Linux, storage, and networking. To solve customer problems, the Cadence consultants will look at the components of the compute farm, the distributed resource manager, the network configuration, the OS, the desktop system, and any tool or methodology issues that may be getting in the way. One deliverable is a "gap analysis report" with recommendations for solving the problem.

But, don't most large customers buy tools from multiple EDA vendors? Not a problem, Peter said. "We maximize the performance of the infrastructure layer. We don't touch your [non-Cadence] tools, IP, or data. We handle the foundations of the house. The home you build on top of it is your choice."

In-House Options

For many years Cadence has offered secure VCAD (Virtual Integrated CAD) "chambers" located at Cadence. Customers can use VCAD chambers to facilitate Cadence support, to store test cases, or to collaborate on design data. More recently, Cadence has offered "hosted chambers" that include servers, storage, and tool licenses, providing a complete CAD infrastructure environment for many small companies and startups. The latest incarnation of this concept is Hosted Design Services, Cadence's software as a service (SaaS) offering.

All of the offerings described in this post - including the EDA Infrastructure Acceleration Services, VCAD chambers, and Hosted Design Services - are sold through the Cadence services organization. However, all leverage expertise and personnel from the Cadence IT department.

"We're promoting what Cadence IT can do for customers rather than just being an internally-facing organization," Peter said. "There's no rocket science here. We're just taking guys who know an awful lot and helping our customers solve some common problems."

Richard Goering



By Dr Rosemary Francis on April 1, 2011
I agree that this is an important step for Cadence. The connection between design, verification, implementation, test and the IT infrastructure has not been given enough emphasis.  As the flows grow in complexity there has been some efforts to provide reference flows and limited 'best practice' guidelines, but inevitably there has to be a lot of glue infrastructure to tie everybody together. Partly that comes from a mixed bag of version control, project management tools and compute infrastructure that makes a custom solution inevitable even before you have considered customer or mixed-vendor flows.

Small companies without the resources to automate a lot of the infrastructure will rely on sensible design management procedures and a low turnover of staff. Larger companies will often have a number of individuals working on aspects of the flow and infrastructure solving a lot of the communication and project management issues in house. As the system grows in complexity there can be significant value tied up in the infrastructure IP which in turn makes it difficult to make disruptive improvements.

On company hoping to tackle this issue head on is Ellexus, a UK based start up (www.ellexus.com). They have produced a tool which automatically records the relationships between programs, files and scripts in the system. This can be used maintain up-to-date documentation, to audit working practices or to facilitate sharing of infrastructure. It can be used to record a run on a system with can  then accompany the scripts and data so that remote engineers can see how their system needs to be configured and troubleshoot problems quickly. The main aim is to reduce the amount of time highly qualified engineers have to spend executing scripts in their head in order to understand a system.

IT support from the EDA vendors is long overdue in their quest for complete EDA solutions. I don't think it will solve all the problems, but combined with new solutions like those from Ellexus and the other emerging infrastructure start ups, we can do a lot to stop companies from reinventing the wheel.

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