CAD companies and cloud storage strategy

CAD companies and cloud storage strategy


Cloud storage is changing fast these days. From relatively small portion of our life limited mostly by online email, cloud storage is growing into space where majority of our activities are happening these days. Email, photo storage, online documents, calendars, shopping – this is only a short list. Changes are coming to corporate world as well. New York Times article Google, Microsoft and Others Delve Deeper Into Cloud Storage for Businesses speaks about trajectories of cloud storage and business. Here is an interesting passage:

Soon, keeping your digital goods will also be the means for tech companies to understand who does what inside a business, just the way they understand consumers by watching what they do on the web. “Storage is where the stickiness is,” said Jeffrey Mann, vice president for research at Gartner. “It’s how they hold a customer. If they store your stuff, they get to know you better.”

So, you may think the strategy is to hold data and keep customers as hostages for storage. It might sounds like a strategy for short term. However, web giants don’t see storage as something that will hold companies strategically. The following passage can give you a feeling of direction:

“Cloud storage is a temporary market,” said Scott Johnston, director for product management for Drive, Google’s online storage, document creation and collaboration business. “In the future it will be about elevating productivity: How do we look for patterns? What does it mean if a document is read by 10 percent of the company? What does it mean if you haven’t read it yet?” It’s a strategy that Microsoft is also pursuing with its OneDrive product. Dropbox, a storage site popular with consumers, and Box, a storage and collaboration site specifically for business, are both also working on ways to turn data storage into something that provides greater insight into how people are working. Dropbox started a business offering last year.

This point of view made me think about what can be a potential strategy of CAD companies related to cloud storage and operations of CAD systems. The majority of CAD business today is not in the cloud. CAD files and related information is stored on desktop computers and local area networks. How big this data and how easy and transparently  companies can move this data to the cloud (private and public) and make it available for collaboration? The demand for better collaboration is huge. CAD vendors are working on cloud CAD systems. But this work is just in the beginning. Cloud storage of CAD files and seamless access by existing desktop CAD systems can be a short term CAD file management strategy. The most interesting part is coming next. If I will follow Google’s logic, companies can make analysis of massive amount of CAD data and use it for future product design improvement and better work organization.

What is my conclusion? Data is a fuel for future growth. Whoever will capture CAD data these days will have an ability to run analytic work and make that data part of future design strategy. In most of cases today, companies have very limited capability to re-use design, make analysis and predict future improvements. Cloud storage can be a first step towards future data-driven design. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • This post and a comment from a previous post “Future CAD file management trajectories”

    Somebody would like to re-think the way engineering data (include CAD data) stored and managed in the cloud.

    reignited a thought I have had for a while. It really revolves around how will “files” evolve in the future. I do think files will exist for a while longer at least as a means of exchanging information but I wonder if the evolution of what a file is will change before we will storage our current large CAD files in the cloud. There are many possibilities from having modern native CAD files better support delta changes, to transferring a more efficient (smaller) package which may require some processing on the cloud server side to recreate the native file as well as not using any files as all our applications are in the cloud.

    The way I am trying to look at this problem is that we are passing information not files. We are currently focusing on files because this is what we have which is fine for an immediate solutions but what interests me more is how will this problem be solved in the future without having our current file constraints.

    Sorry that there is no substance in this ramble however I would be interested in other peoples thought of the future of “Files.”

  • beyondplm

    Denis, thanks for your insight and thoughts! We can look on files from two perspective – (1) an abstraction for end-users; (2) technical implementation. I believe the first one will remain with us for a quite long period of time. Some slight manipulation of terms can happen – (eg. you will do CAD–> Open Design / Open Part, without technically going to file on the disc). The second one is going to evolve. Virtual discs, cloud storages, etc – we just in the beginning of the process.

    More of my thoughts about Files in the future in the following blog post last year —

  • Steve

    As many people know, Dassault has already begun this transformation by evolving to the use of a database for CAD models and their information, rather than using files. This approach may catch-on, but likely as an option files would still need to exist for some time, I suppose. At the end of the day, hopefully the users won’t have to worry about how their data is stored, as long as they can do everything they need to do with it.

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  • Henk Jan Pels

    This blog gives me an uneasy feeling. Google and their alikes use cloud storage to analyse the usage patterns of their users. So if I use Dropbox I think I am just sending a file to a friend, but Google is analysing my profile as a customer and sells that to interested vendors. If I am a manufacturing company and consider to bring my CAD data to the cloud, in orther to enable my staff and my supplychain partners to access it anywhere from any device, I will think twice if I know that Google will analyse the behaviour of my staff and partners and sell their findings to other companies, possibly competitors. Privacy in the Cloud remains a hot issue.

  • beyondplm

    Henk Jan, thanks for sharing your thoughts… security is hot issue – I agree. However, sometimes, I feel that when it comes to cloud it is a bit disproportional. Companies are spending billions to analyze consumers and businesses to improve marketing and sales. It happened before cloud and will happen more. The issue is transparency and ability to protect ourself. If you can exclude yourself from analysis Google (or whoever else) is doing it is just fine. However, I’m (personally) or my business is ready to disclose data to improve services – why not?
    IMHO, it is not obvious for the moment, but for long run people and companies that will be ready to open data will have more business opportunities in future business environments. Of course, we will still have criminal behaviors and risks that can be mitigated. At the end of the day, you balance risks vs. opportunities. Just my opinion of course. Best, Oleg

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