So I went on vacation last week. And the world of engineering software kept going, perhaps even ramped up a bit even though I wasn’t around to pay attention. Here are a few of the news bits I found most compelling from my time away:

SGI acquires OpenCFD
Last week SGI announced that it had acquired the privately-held OpenCFD, enabling SGI, according SGI CEO Mark J. Barrenechea, to “provide our customers the market’s first fully integrated CFD solution, where all the hardware and software work together."

OpenCFD is the developer of OpenFOAM, an open source CFD solution of solvers and utility apps that is gaining traction among commercial and research institutions interested in trying open source solutions.

It will be interesting to see how this pairing fares. SGI says that the entire OpenCFD team has joined SGI and that it has formed the non-profit OpenFOAM Foundation to “make OpenFOAM accessible to everyone and allow for community contributions. SGI is fully committed to the continued development of OpenFOAM, which will continue to be open under the GNU Public License (GPL).” SGI told investors (without disclosing terms of the deal) that it would grow revenue via OpenFOAM support subscriptions, training and professional services for deployments on SGI hardware and, of course, a CFD code offering that is optimized for SGI hardware.

With this acquisition SGI reestablished itself in the CAE world, where it had been losing ground, while OpenFOAM benefits greatly from the resources available in the larger SGI organization. Free software and (comparatively) expensive hardware. Does that sound familiar to anyone else?

Changes rattle plant design distribution networks
Autodesk has for many years sold AutoCAD into the process plant world, either as a standalone tool or as the platform for products such as COADE CADWorx and Bentley AutoPlant. But as Autodesk creates its own suite of solutions for this vertical, the competition is heating up for resellers. Last week we learned that ECAD, Inc., one of the largest North American CADWorx resellers, has decided to switch to AutoCAD Plant. ECAD is one of Autodesk’s largest resellers so this isn’t really surprising, and we should expect similar transitions as the Autodesk plant offering picks up steam. Intergraph and CADWorx are encouraging customers to work with one of its North American resellers that is focused solely on plant design and to stick with CADWorx which reports increasing its development staff by 50% and doubling support resources since it was acquired by Intergraph in 2010.

Exa files for an IPO
Exa Corporation filed an S-1 registration in early August with the US Securities and Exchange Commission signaling their intention to raise $86 million in a public offering of their shares. According to the filing, Exa had revenue of $37.7 million in the year ended January 31, 2011, up slightly from $36 million in fiscal 2010 and $34 million in 2009. There’s lots more in the 130-page filing and I’ll post a longer review when I’ve read the whole thing but one question springs immediately to mind: why now? No one is calling the stock market “strong” and I’m not hearing anyone predicting a boom …


There’s lots of other news, too: Autodesk released AutoCAD for the Mac and reported solid earnings for its July quarter; HP is buying Autonomy; ESI Group acquired IC.IDO GmbH, a vendor of immersive virtual reality solutions; and Spaceclaim announced its 2011 release and got a bit giddy in discussing competitive displacements — but more about these as the week goes on.

It’s good to be back. No, wait … yes. It’s good to be back. What else did I miss?