The vision of CloudFlow

CloudFlow will enable the remote use of computational services distributed on the cloud, seamlessly integrating these within established engineering design workflows and standards. CloudFlow aims to empower the different engineering disciplines with on-demand access to scalable computational services, allowing them to start any process when desired and without the need for a complex local infrastructure of cutting-edge high performing computers. The new engineers’ workplaces do not need to be equipped with expensive software (CAD, CAM, CAE, PLM, data archival) and their required operating systems and versions, or with special hardware (CPU, RAM, GPU) and their dedicated drivers. Therefore, the engineer will not need multiple computers for different tasks; or in the case of limited computers, the engineers will not need to wait for the availability of the resources.

CloudFlow will build on existing technologies and standards, integrating and configuring them in such a way that engineers will be able to continue with their standard workflows and with their standard formats, but with a scalable amount of resources on-demand. CloudFlow will go beyond the mere provision of individual computational services on the cloud. It has the ambition to support chains of services in integrated workflows and to allow the development and simulation of complex products such as mechatronic systems where mechanics, software and electronics work together. For this end, CloudFlow will take standards and quasi standards to the next level, the cloud level. Data management is planned to happen based on the ISO standard STEP and the ASD LOTAR specification EN9300, whereas the FMI (functional mock-up interface) specification builds the basis for co-simulation in the cloud where partners cannot only provide simulation services as cloud services but also behavioural models to be simulated in conjunction with other services.

In order to master these challenges, CloudFlow will address different aspects of computational cloud services for engineering. From a technical point of view, the project will focus on:

  • data (exchange and integration);
  • services (adaptation, interoperability); and
  • workflows (integration, co-operation).

The technical aspects will consider the current situation at the engineering workplaces and they will adapt and customize the existing technology to better serve the current needs in an agile and flexible manner. From a user prospective, the project will deal with:

  • usability and accessibility;
  • business models; and
  • competitive calls (for application experiments).

In this context, it will prepare the engineers to use the computational services on the cloud, it will investigate and create new business models to use these kinds of services on demand and it will continuously be refined by means of involving more users and more system vendors, with different needs, and with different application experiments being called for in competitive calls.

The future engineering workplaces will literally be newly conceived. The engineer will become flexible and powerful. They will be able to develop and assess complex systems in an integral manner, combining the different behaviours for integrated workflows within chains of services. The engineers will be relieved from being present at a fixed workplace to perform any of their tasks. In contrast, they will be able to work anywhere and with light resources, able to access all the technology and the needed computational power; in a near future, also by just using mobile devices (e.g. notebook, tablets or even smartphones).