CAD, Cloud, Browser… Since SolidWorks first started CAD in the cloud debates by making SolidWorks in the cloud announcement back on SolidWorks World 2010. Now we know – it was way too early. Autodesk first announced CAD in the cloud earlier this year by introducing Fusion 360 product. SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual was promised in Fall 2013, and according to last web site announcement will become available in 2014. TinkerCAD was an interesting innovative product the developed online CAD community (assets were acquired by Autodesk few months ago).
Meantime, technology companies are trying to bring a new cloudy way to work with CAD systems using virtualization techniques. Last week in Las Vegas, I spotted a company called Mainframe2. GraphicSpeak featured Mainframe2 in one of their articles last week. Navigate Mainframe2 building cloud platform for workstation apps; shows stuff at AU 2013 to read more. I found the following passage interesting:
The Mainframe2 team has deep expertise in video streaming, the key technology at the heart of cloud application delivery. It’s an area where the Mainframe2 people feel they have a head start on the competition and they understand how to harness GPUs to accelerate video encoding and minimize the latency. The company is targeting the professional workstation industry first, because the Mainframe2 people feel that’s where the gap between the need and capabilities is the largest. By putting resources in the cloud, people can get access to computing resources they could only dream about on their PCs. At the same time, Bozinovic thinks it’s extremely inefficient to have high powered workstations being underutilized at desks most of the time and being used to perform word processing and email handling.
Mainframe2 publication and appearance made me think about few related publications and writeups. A very old (3 years) post on my blog Virtual Desktops and CAD on the cloud - that was just a mark of coming virtual cloud desktop market. In my last week article, I mentioned Amazon Workspaces - another virtual desktop product.
What is my conclusion? New is a well forgotten old. Does it work in computer and tech? Sometimes it does. Sometimes the envelope looks the same, but inside is different. Speaking about CAD, it is a lot about people. It is hard to change engineers and they really like to work with most of current mature CAD environment. This is a game virtual desktop /workstation tech companies are trying to play. To run the same Inventor, SolidWorks, Catia, Creo workstation in the virtual workstation with a different cost can be an interesting option. However, we should not forget that cloud is not only “server / desktop in the cloud”. It is a lot of new capabilities mostly related to collaboration and information sharing. This is where CAD in browser innovators should be looking on. Just my thoughts…