CAD is half pregnant by cloud

CAD is half pregnant by cloud

cad-cloud-pregnant

The usage of cloud is growing every day. Started as an option to simplify collaboration and data exchange, it is proliferating into spaces such as backup, computation and many others. CAD and design are remaining one of the most conservative zone of the cloud and engineering software. Commonly agreed opinion – desktop is the best place to run CAD system in terms of resources, performance and tasks designers want to accomplish.

With such CAD desktop paradigm, you might think CAD users are completely independent from cloud. Actually, it is not so true. My attention caught by Cadalyst article – Advocate for Internet Access for CAD Tools by Robert Green. According to him CAD is no longer an island and significantly depends on cloud services and public internet infrastructure. Here is the passage, which explains that

Like it or not, our CAD users are becoming more and more dependent on tools that reside outside our company’s internal network. The types of systems we use may vary, but they typically include the following: FTP access sites for file uploading and downloading, Remote access of workstations for technical support; Remote log-on sessions to run compute-intensive tasks, such as rendering or analysis, on powerful remote workstations; Enterprise data management (EDM) and product data management (PDM) systems for CAD/BIM models and files; Cloud-based services on vendor-supplied servers. Whether you use one, several, or all of these Internet-based resources in your day-to-day CAD system, the fact remains that using CAD is no longer something that you alone can control. And when you must reach out over the Internet to complete your CAD tasks, IT becomes a crucial part of your workflow.

It made me think again about future of cloud and CAD relationships. In my view, cloud won’t be introduced to CAD users as a single lifetime event. Instead of switching designers and engineers to cloud CAD overnight, companies will introduce some cloud based services to maximize cloud value proposition to existing CAD-based workflows. You can navigate to some of my earlier posts – The future of CAD without files?A moment before CAD files cloud mess…; What “end of local storage” means for CAD?; CAD, PLM and Future Cloud File Systems.

I can identify 3 main zones of existing CAD system enhancements that will leverage cloud eco-system to provide additional benefits to engineers:

1. Cloud based backup and file exchange. This is mainstream scenario that requires very little from CAD and other engineering software vendors. Cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and some others can provide it today without even disrupting current workflows.

2. Viewing and collaboration. This is more complicated, but still very feasible scenario. Think about services such as GrabCAD Workbench, TeamPlatform and some others. These services can solve basic revision management needs and collaborative viewing of files.

3. Computation and special engineering design services. This is the most interesting case, in my view. In this scenario, desktop CAD systems will use services running from public cloud to solve simulation, analysis, and more complicated design tasks. Some of them can leverage elastic nature of cloud and some of them can be collaborative by allowing several engineers working together.

What is my conclusion? Can you be ‘half pregnant”? Actually, you can, if you think about CAD and cloud services. In my view, existing and new design tools will be leveraging hybrid resources (from desktop and cloud) to support optimal workflow and implement best user experience in the future. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Share

Share This Post

  • Henk Jan Pels

    Hello Oleg,

    I am a cloud sceptic: what is cloud else than moving your
    files from the physical company network drive to external virtual disk space
    offered by a service provider?

    But: it is a paradigm that is driving some change, so it is
    not unimportant. It does make collaboration over the design chain easier (but
    also introduces IP risks). It makes external engineering services more natural
    to use which will open new business models.

    However: it will not free us from files. The cloud is not a
    database, although a database could very well be in the cloud. The point is
    that for organizing the collaborative and iterative process of design, we need
    units of information that can evolve in a controlled and consistent way
    (versioning and release). Currently CAD and MS-office files are such units,
    called documents. In the clouded future we will still need such version and
    status controlled units, even if they are not called files anymore. I am still
    hoping some software vendor will introduce such concept, but it would rather be
    a new generation (possibly cloud based) PDM/PLM/Knowledge Management System. My
    worry is that PLM vendors will keep trying for the next decade to mimic the
    Microsoft file/folder paradigm that was invented to manage files on floppy
    discs.
    Henk Jan Pels

  • beyondplm

    Henk,thanks for your comment and thoughts… I agree, some of paradigms need to die when software and collaboration will move to the cloud. File is one of them. It is just one giant database on the cloud (think about Google docs).

    Some of my thoughts about future of files and cloud are here

    CAD, PLM and Future of cloud file system
    http://beyondplm.com/2013/04/07/cad-plm-and-future-cloud-file-systems-2/

    The future of CAD without files
    http://beyondplm.com/2011/07/27/the-future-of-cad-without-files/

    CAD: from files to databases and cloud
    http://beyondplm.com/2010/11/17/cad-from-files-to-database-and-cloud/