This week was packed with multiple announcements and events. One of them happened in Paris – first Dassault Application Innovation Summit. I wasn’t able to attend and followed this event via twitter, press release and publications in blogosphere. Few blog publications I noted specifically – Dassault Systems to deliver Amazon Web Services for V6 users by Randall Newton; The future is here with Dassault Cloud Initiative by Anna Wood / SolidMuse; Dassault Enters Cloud Era with Caution by Mikael Ricknäs / CIO magazine.
Dassault V6 Cloud – What Does it Mean?
According to the press release, Dassault is making V6 platform available from AWS – cloud environment. It is including support by multiple elements of cloud infrastructure – EC2, S3, and others. It combines 3D Store (set of applications) and Outscale – an outsource company Dassault investing in to run their cloud solutions. According to the online information, the following applications are available today – n!volve, n!fuze, 3DSwYm and few others. These two applications are actually the core of the current announcement:
n!Fuze is a secure, on-demand, online solution for designers and engineers to exchange ideas and collaborate on designs with people inside and outside their organizations. Created specifically to manage the needs of the product design process, n!Fuze gives users version control, manages comments and feedback, and allows non-CAD subscribers to see and comment on designs online. n!Fuze is a hosted solution that is easy to start up and does not require investments in dedicated IT resources and infrastructure.
n!Volve connects your V6 authoring and collaborators via the cloud and provides design teams with a community based PLM environment. n!Volve is the service that provides the collaboration platform for the V6 Online portfolio of products and offers a unique extension of the V6 PLM Express environment to utilize on the cloud and on premise collaboration platforms.
Navigate to the following links n!volve, n!fuze to get more information. My simple net-net is that n!fuze is orienting on CAD and non-CAD content hosting and sharing on the cloud. Connecting it to the knowledge I gathered from SolidWorks World 2011, n!fuze is mostly about SolidWorks.
n!Fuze intelligently supports the design process. You simply upload files to n!Fuze, create a workspace to share files through, and invite others to collaborate. As a CAD-specific sharing solution, n!Fuze understands and manages the files you post, including part, assembly, and drawing relationships, and can show these relationships graphically with its unique visual product structure tool. When you share files, n!Fuze automatically includes all related files to help prevent broken assemblies or missing parts. Comments are tightly linked to associated files so you can easily track new ideas and changes throughout the product development and review process.
On the other side, n!volve is orienting on V6 PLM applications (Catia, Delmia, Simulia). It means, traditionally Dassault continues to separate SolidWorks/CAD and CATIA based environment.
Delivers and easy to use, easy to deploy PLM platform for product development that connects to the V6 Online portfolio of products. Bringing teams together in minuteswith a simple internet connection. The n!Volve service also provides access to the unique V6 collaboration and search engines that enable full real-time collaboration within the team. Integrated and built on the common data management architecture with the V6 authoring applications (CATIA®, DELMIA®, and SIMULIA®.).
DS Cloud Apps Hands On
Following links on Dassault website, I wanted to get an access to the cloud apps and use them. Unfortunately, n!volve is not available for try, and you can only buy it for $3’600 annual price. Opposite to that n!fuze is available for $70 / month and one month free access is possible. It took me about 20 min to go via all 3D Cloud Store accounts, login, etc. Now, my account is awaiting validation.
After some time, the status of my order appears as approved, and I’ve got an email with the link that allowed me to download SolidWorks n!Fuze plug-in (nothing was said about SolidWorks in the context of n!Fuze before). After a couple of hours, I’ve got a notification email saying that n!Fuze service is ready and I can use it.
I wanted to share some of my first time impressions. The interface looks fresh. I can be easy create workspace, browse, navigate, etc. The similarity with file share services is clear. It is kinda Dropbox for CAD files. Cool! I tried to upload few files with pictures of 3D models. Unfortunately, n!Fuze wasn’t able to show preview for images. It is weird, in my view. I tried to upload SolidWorks file and got notification saying “SolidWorks files are not allowed for upload. Probably, I will need to install SolidWorks plug-in. This type of behavior is questionable. I can imagine people will be interested to upload file with the ease of Dropbox experience. n!Fuze use interface is not allowing drag-n-drop similar to Google Docs and Dropbox. Another strange behavior is that I can only share files via workspaces and cannot send the invitation via email.
One of the interesting features I found is the ability to build a network. You can search in the list of “SwYmers”. However, I wasn’t able to find a function to invite an external person to this list.
What is my conclusion? Dassault Systems is definitely pioneering in the development of PLM applications on the cloud. They are probably the first mindshare PLM vendors potentially making cloud available for a mainstream. The idea is cool – you subscribe, pay money or make a trial subscription and… magic happens. The overall impression I’ve got – it is something new. There are lots of small missing pieces, which are probably normal in the first release. In my view, time is now the most critical aspect for Dassault engineers – the idea is cool, but the details are what important in Web 2.0 environment. Just my thoughts…