The Future of Mobility Landed in Detroit (and it is not a Meteor)

The relatively slow (28,000 mph) meteor seen across six U.S. states and Canada on Tuesday night was not the only news headline featuring Southeast Michigan this week.  The 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) opened its doors for media and industry experts on Sunday and will be open to the public on Saturday.

Now in its second year at NAIAS, automotive experts have the opportunity to gather and discuss about the future of mobility at Automobili-D, an international platform that brings together automakers, suppliers, tech startups as well as universities and government organizations.

I was able to participate in one of the symposiums on Mobility City – featuring experts like Kevin Kerrigan, Senior VP for Automotive Initiatives with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Carla Bailo, President and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR). The panelists discussed how technology, and simulation in particular, offer a phenomenal opportunity to provide better, more sustainable mobility. Getting there will take intense planning and an unprecedented cooperation between the automakers, regulators, and technology providers. At Altair, we are ready to take on this new challenge by helping our customers with a complete set of solutions specifically developed for e-mobility.

This challenge is becoming an opportunity for a new breed of tech startups offering new mobility products and services, ranging from self-driving vehicles to car-sharing, from navigation apps to SaaS mobility services. 57 companies from 11 countries were featured in the techSTARS exhibition. We wish them best of luck and promise full support through Altair’s startups program.

Moving to the main hall at NAIAS 2018, where automakers are showing off their latest products, the main theme remains the same.

Even more so than in the past, everyone’s attention this year is on more efficient, lightweight products.  Automakers like FCA, with the Jeep Cherokee 2019 facelift, are shaving weight off vehicles and adopting more modern engines (a new 2.0 L, 4 cylinder turbo-charged engine is now available on several Alfa Romeo and Jeep models).

While we may still see gas-powered engines around for a while, electric power is a consolidated reality, which in many cases require a complete redesign of the entire powertrain system, like with ZF’s 8-Speed Plug-In Hybrid Transmission.

This attention to efficiency and lightweight design includes one of Detroit’s Auto Show staples: full-size pickup trucks. It’s not a coincidence that the all-new 2018 Ram 1500 took this year’s “Best of Show” award. Overall weight for the Ram 1500 has been reduced by 225 pounds, all while increasing overall stiffness and durability.

It might be worth reminding that Ford won the 2015 Enlighten Award with their full-size truck, the new F-150 and now FCA has another great contender after winning last year’s edition. Nominations for the 2018 award are open and we’ll know the winners by the end of June.

Auto shows are also the place where automakers get an opportunity to explore new design trends and see how the public reacts to concepts containing cues on future production vehicles.

This year’s theme could be summarized in “Fun and SUV”. Among others, Volkswagen, Toyota, and Nissan presented their interpretation of your next not-so-much-soccer-mom-anymore SUVs. An unlikely contender in this category was GAG, a new Chinese automaker that’s planning to enter the U.S. market in the coming months. It will be interesting to see how the plan develops.

After talking about so many vehicles, you may wonder which one is my “Best of Show”. This year my personal preference goes to the vintage C/K 10 brought in by Chevrolet to celebrate 100 years of Chevy trucks.

In my opinion, it represents well the pickup truck showdown at this year’s Auto Show and reminds us that – today like 50 years ago – these vehicles are part of our culture. While in the not-so-far future we may be using different means of transportation, cars will likely remain part of the collective imagination for much longer than we thought. For petrol heads like myself, cruising in one of these around town is always going to be fun!

Altair SAO: Rightsizing Software License Inventory – Part 2

What-If Simulator Results – Performance Improvement

The previous post discussed the “Why and How” to Rightsize software license inventory at any company.  This post will discuss the results obtained using a Software License What-If Simulator that analyzes transaction history for a modeling software (check-in/check-out/denials).  We will focus on evaluating performance metrics when the license counts are varied using different Timeout and Max Sessions constraints.

Simulation Setup

The What-If simulator uses data exported from any software usage reporting/analytics system.  It can perform different types of analysis described below:

Use Cases

The What-If Simulator supports the following primary use cases:

  1. Predict performance metrics for a varying number of licenses, with the ability to add timeout and maximum permissible concurrent sessions constraints.
  2. Predict performance metrics for varying number of licenses with timeout and maximum concurrent sessions constraints for increased/reduced users.
    1. Use thresholds to define User Grouping based on 2 metrics – Average Session Length, and Total Usage – that will create 3 usage groups for LOW, MEDIUM, and HIGH users. The simulator will also export these user group lists
    2. Use profile distribution of increased/reduced users from LOW, MEDIUM and HIGH usage groups

The current post will discuss results obtained from Use Case 1 and how these results can be applied to maximize the usage of a particular software.

Results and Discussion

The following table shows the results of the Nominal Analysis – Metrics extracted by the Simulator from historical usage data provided by the user.  This allows comparison of data with what is reported by the software usage reporting system.

This data set shows a maximum peak of 358 implying there are 358 licenses for this software.  The nominal denials probability is 16.45% which means there are 16.45 denials for every 100 check-out requests.  The data set has about 300000 usage records including successful check-outs and denials.  There are about 0.36 licenses per user.

What-If Analysis Simulations Setup

The simulator allows for setting up of multiple What-If simulations like shown below.  Timeout and Max Concurrent Sessions constraints can be specified.  The value 0 implies no constraint is applied.  The license count sweep for any simulation starts with the From value using a step size specified in the Step value.  If the To value is 0, simulation will end when the number of denials becomes 0.

Performance Metrics for varying License Counts

Following graphs show Denials Probability %, Sustained Peak %, Capacity Utilization % and Waiting Time (hrs.) metrics predictions for different license counts.  No timeout or max sessions count constraints were set.

An increase in licenses will reduce denials probability, reduce waiting time for a license (a good thing), but also reduce capacity utilization and Sustained Peaks %.  If for example, denials probability of 10% is considered tolerable, the administrator could add around 39 licenses as suggested by the chart.

The table shows the comparison of a few key metrics as predicted by the What-If Simulator if 39 licenses were added to the current count of 357.  One can see that the choice of the license count can be driven by picking targets for different performance metrics.

Performance Metrics for varying Timeout Constraints

The following charts show for each performance metric, the effect of installing a Timeout value.  This is not always possible or feasible unless the application provides a Timeout function and the license manager supports an Idle Session Timeout with license harvesting.

When it is feasible to install an idle sessions timeout with the ability to harvest a license to make it available to someone else, one can expect to see a reduction in denials probability, and wait times.

The table shows the effect of installing Idle Timeouts when feasible.  Ideally, for interactive software, it will be beneficial to limit the maximum session length to 8 hours which is typical of a work day.

Performance Metrics for varying Maximum Concurrent Sessions Constraints

The following charts show the effect of limiting the maximum number of concurrent sessions a user could be allowed to invoke for different performance metrics.  This is feasible to do with a launching script that imposes such a constraint.  Limiting maximum number of concurrent sessions is a feasible strategy only if the software is not User-Host levelled.  If the software is NOT User-Host leveled,  every instance of the software draws a license.

Limiting the maximum number of simultaneous sessions a user could be allowed to use makes licenses available to other users.


The What-If analysis module fills a critical gap to help tune a current installation using time-outs or maximum allowed concurrent sessions, or to find the most appropriate license count to optimally support current usage.  It is not really possible to guess performance outcomes that change by license counts and these constraints.

Extending Use Cases for Performance Tuning

Some license management systems allow for creation of user groups and allocating license counts to each group.  The simulation system could be used to develop What-If scenarios for different user grouping options in order to tune the group content.  The license manager emulator will need to support group-usage scenario in order to allow/deny license requests based on the user’s assigned group and licenses available at that time for that group.

The next post will focus on using the What-If simulator for forecasting and planning activities for the following year.

Combining 2D and 3D Simulation

We must often strike the right balance between the computational time and accuracy of our simulation. Simplification/removal of unimportant CAD features, locally refined mesh, and usage of equivalent elements are some proven methodologies to reduce the calculation time. If the … Read More