Box-Streem and new faces of cloud PDM competition

by Oleg on June 26, 2014 · 3 comments

box-streem-pdm

The race toward efficient cloud sharing of files and other information is heating up. While typical photo sharing application is mostly relies on the ability of smartphone and photo app to capture and share photo, the story is completely different for CAD and engineering data. There are pros and cons to have special CAD file sharing tool. I covered it here last year.

The simplicity and cost of generic cloud services is competing with the ability to be integrated with CAD systems and provide CAD independent viewing services. However, here is a challenge both generic and special file sharing services are facing – how to connect to the massive amount of data located on desktop computers and enterprise network drives. To crunch  CAD data, bring it up to the cloud and keep updated in sync with local storage is not simple task.

I’ve been reading about Box acquisition of Streem few days ago. Navigate to BOX blog to read more – Box Acquiring Streem: Bringing the Cloud to your Desktop. Box is an interesting outfit. The main difference from services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive is a complete focus on enterprise. And it explains their focus on desktop and other local data. Pay attention to the following passage:

Streem has developed amazing technology that allows you to mount a cloud drive onto your computer — making documents, presentations, videos and files available to you without the limitations of your local hard-disk, effectively turning the cloud into an “unlimited” drive. Rather than files living directly on your computer’s disk, they are instead securely “streamed” to you on demand when you need to interact with them. And to further optimize the experience and support low-bandwidth environments, Streem has developed enhanced video and media streaming technology to ensure content is accessible from the cloud as fast as it is locally.

Manufacturing (and not only) companies are clearly on the path of Box and Streem.

For customers across data-intensive industries like Media & Entertainment, Oil & Gas, Healthcare, and Manufacturing, this means instant access to far larger volumes of data than what your local drives can support. For enterprises in regulated industries like Life Sciences and Financial Services, it means better protection and control of information and where it lives.

BOX-Streem made me think again about PDM cloud competition. The ability to cope with massive amount of data can provide an easy path to sync all CAD (and related data) to the cloud using future BOX generic service. What called StreemFS (cloud file system) can generically support not only CAD files, which will simplify the work for IT-related people. The challenge for BOX will be to integrate viewer and other specific CAD related features allowing to manage CAD data in more granular way.

What is my conclusion? Cloud companies will keep challenging Cloud PDM services. Scale, simplicity and cost are clearly advantages on the side of companies like Google, Microsoft, Dropbox and Box. It will be very easy for cloud PDM vendors to bring more specific CAD -related functions. It was done in the past when CAD/PDM vendors competed with SharePoint and other content / document management systems. The result was bad – extra complexity and lower adoption rate. We are going to see future trajectories of specialized vendors to balance between features and complexity. Interesting balance to keep. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Share
  • http://www.eng-eng.com/ Ed Lopategui

    Streem is interesting, but I don’t think it’s viable for
    CAD. Streem’s focus as a startup is media files – i.e. video, music and
    other file types that can be buffered (i.e. you just need the bit that’s being
    displayed *right now*). That’s why they mention a solution for low
    bandwidth, but not low latency. They’ve figured out how to decimate and
    automatically stream large media files, probably leveraging some existing
    streaming technologies.

    When it comes to manipulating a large number of small files, latency will take
    over as the predominant issue and this will seem slower to the end user.
    Larger CAD files have a different problem – they can’t easily be decimated and
    streamed to allow a user to operate in the file before the whole file is
    in local memory. Part of this is a dependency on proprietary CAD file
    formats, which is an old problem. That problem is several orders of
    magnitude more difficult.

    I do agree, however, that this is just the tip of the iceberg – there are
    plenty of more interesting cloud technologies in the oven. The next few
    years should be very exciting.

  • beyondplm

    Ed, you are right about focus on streaming and specific of media files. My point is that in my view, the idea to stream files between desktop and cloud servers to optimize data flow can be turned upside down to implement cloud PDM. Even more important is Box’s understanding of how local data is important in order to make successful enterprise cloud business.

  • http://www.eng-eng.com/ Ed Lopategui

    Yes! Local data is very important!

Previous post:

Next post: