It is hard to find a day without new announcement or breaking news related to the cloud these days. Companies are running fast to catch “a place under a cloud”. The debates about the cloud are growing. Those of your reading my blog regularly, already had a chance to read multiple posts I published about the cloud. Maybe before continue to read, I’d recommend you to navigate to the following post – Product Lifecycle Data and Cloud Trap Debates. I tried to present a balanced view on advantages and risks related to cloud solutions these days.
I want to talk about CAD and the cloud or even more specific – CAD files and the cloud. Two leading companies in CAD space – Autodesk and Dassault Systems are presenting solutions allowing to store (or even synchronize) CAD files to the cloud. Dassault was probably pioneering this solution with SolidWorks n!Fuze. However, Autodesk clearly outperformed Dassault System by introducing Autodesk 360 providing 3GB of free storage for every AutoCAD user as well as other features – viewing, collaboration and sharing capabilities. Another Autodesk product – AutoCAD WS can store drawings directly to the cloud (I think both AutoCAD WS and Autodesk 360 paths need to converge somehow in the future).
The ability to store and sync CAD files using cloud services and storage is a powerful option. At the same time, the “Save As To Cloud” option is not much different from “Save As File”. Everybody knows how messy file vaults look like in every company. Dou know how many CAD files are stored on local hard drives, USB discs, network storages in your company. The amount of un-managed files and data is growing. For the last 15-20 years, we didn’t succeed to create a reliable data-management option for all these files. There is a potential danger that all this “file mess” will be flowing to the cloud gates and will turn into CAD cloud mess. In my view, it creates an interesting opportunity to manage cloud-gates in more reliable ways to get data organized and prevent messy file uploads. It is a complicated problem, and it will require dedicated work of vendors to make it right. Do you remember Apple mobile.me failure? I can imagine similar situation happens with any CAD cloud synchronization features.
What is my conclusion? Cloud is a powerful technology. Engineers, architects and other CAD users are sensitive to information. The ability of cloud services to create a mess can put a potential of cloud services at risk. CAD vendors need to bring a solution that will allow to cloud CAD file storage to become manageable and reliable. Otherwise, we are at risk to say – “It is not a technology stupid”. Just my thoughts…