What “end of local storage” means for CAD?

What “end of local storage” means for CAD?


We are in the beginning of the year. Happy New Year! The entire internet and blogosphere is full of “recap 2013” and “future trends in 2014” articles. I was skimming some of these articles on my late afternoon flight to Europe. The article 7 Huge Tech Trends to Expect in 2014 caught my attention. Specifically I was interested by the prediction of cloud wars and the expected end of local storage. Here is the passage I captured:

You’ll hear a stronger desktop PC death rattle in 2014, as consumers finally embrace cloud storage. Consequently, they’ll soon need a lot more than the 5-20 GB standard with most mobile services. Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google will get serious about marketing and advertising consumer cloud storage, access and work options. They’ll also compete more directly, which may result in a price-per-gigabyte war.

In 2014, cloud storage producers will conduct an education, pricing and marketing offensive. By the end of next year, external hard drive sales will decline and cloud storage adoption will have skyrocketed.

It made me think back to one of my posts from 2011 – The future of CAD without files. So, slowly, but surely we are coming to the place where local storage becomes irrelevant and accessibility of data becomes an imperative. I can hear now lots of people saying it is related to consumer place and speed of access combined with security concern will play a differentiation to what engineers are looking for. I agree, for many people it is still make sense and they will be concerned. However, for many of smaller companies, it might be irrelevant. Also, immersivity of “save to the cloud” storage option can play some role too. This trend can play an advantage to some specialized CAD sharing services.

What is my conclusion? It will start from the moment of time you first time think to prefer “save to the cloud” instead of buying next USB drive from Amazon or placing IT request to increase your storage on physical server. Vendors need to take a note, since moving files to the cloud will provide a significant advantage in developing of future collaborative environments. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Stephanie Green

    In my experience I haven’t seen a lot of companies rush to store their CAD files in the cloud. In fact many are still diametrically opposed to that for a variety of reasons: security, regulations, bandwidth concerns, control issues, lack of understanding of cloud storage. What I do foresee, at least in the short-term, is a shift of PDM technology, from an infrastructure system of file-management applications to an application that manages the filestore, with “apps” that can provide additional functionality. The rise of cloud-based PLM is the death-knell of traditional, stand-alone PDM technology.

  • beyondplm

    Stephanie, I can see what are you saying about security, bandwidth, etc. You are absolutely right and I mentioned that. However, I’m not taking it towards future cloud PDM. My point was that it all starts as “person” oriented activity. Like today we store data in Google because it is easier than some corporate secured infra. Think about 1M GrabCAD users storing CAD files. Other services can come too… So, similar to BB that was too late to catch iPhone race, PDM/PLM vendors can be too late when they will find CAD files stored “somewhere” away of their future PDM/PLM products. Just my opinion, of course :).

  • I’d be interested to know what percentage of GrabCAD’s 1M users are members of the maker community, because that would definitely color the statistic. I think socially engineered projects go to the cloud out of necessity, traditional companies aren’t so keen to expose their IP and supply chains. Now I can certainly see traditional companies using GrabCAD to borrow models of other firms’ envelopes.

  • beyondplm

    Ed, I think, we can ask Hardi Meybaum to provide this information.

  • Carlos Lastrilla

    Taking a look at all my personal data – GMail, GDrive, Photos, hobby project designs, etc., I realise that almost 70% is in the cloud, while the rest is scattered across home PC drives, USB sticks, and the like. Contrast that with 5 years ago, the figure was reversed – a majority of my data was local. It might be a slow process, but I do believe that corporate design data will eventually end up in the cloud (whether private or public cloud).

    The sheer mass of individuals using the cloud (whether for private or corporate use) will drive the technology to improve to a point where the usual arguments of security, IP, reliability, bandwidth, and the like will no longer be valid. I guess it will be a question of when, not if.

  • beyondplm

    Carlos, thanks for sharing this information. It is an interesting trend towards moving data to cloud storage. “when” is absolutely right question. Best, Oleg

  • Ryan Small

    The storage needs to be wherever the authoring tool is. If you run CAD locally then your PDM should be local but if you author in the cloud, store in the cloud.

  • beyondplm

    Ryan, why do you connect “storage” and “tool” together. Take for example, Evernote. I can use it anyway – in the browser, mobile app or application on my Mac. However, it works with the same “cloud” storage. What’s wrong with this approach?

  • Ryan Small

    Hi Oleg! There is nothing wrong with that approach. My comment was more with reference to situations where people run their CAD application on their desktop and for this reason, the PDM should be local as well. I don’t think there is any reason to have CAD local and PDM in the cloud (until we have better WAN connectivity). While there will certainly be cases where tool and storage are unified (your example of Evernote being a good one), there are many more cases I think where they need to be separate, since a file needs to be used across many different tools/applications (for example, CAD is used to create a file which is analyze in a separate application and yet another application is used to generate CNC toolpaths).

  • Ryan this is a great point – where the files are actually stored is somewhat irrelevant as long as it’s transparent and readily accessible to those who need it. Many arguments can by made for hybrid methods that provide both global and local access for offsite and onsite scenarios.

  • beyondplm

    Rayan, Actually, I’m less speaking about PDM. To me “storage” of CAD files is not necessarily PDM. It is just a function about where to store data. Maybe it will become a new PDM paradigm… who knows.

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