Google Drive third-party apps and cloud PDM foundation

Google Drive third-party apps and cloud PDM foundation


Designers and engineers working in manufacturing, architecture and construction firms are familiar with the idea of Z-drive. Usually, this is a name of drive that accessible in your local network (LAN). Usually, the same drive can be available also via WAN, but it is not always reliable because of latency, which can make your CAD system fail. I guess every company experience the period of time CAD and other related engineering files are floating around via Z-drive. Some companies achieved a high level of sophistication by managing data using spreadsheets, PDF files and other files.

The work environment is different these days. The idea of “cloud” computing is changing the way we work. LAN, WAN and other old terms are dismissed by new technologies and tools. Sharing files online is getting more popular and not only for your private photos.

I already posted about Dropbox, OneDrive and pros and cons of specialized CAD sharing technologies. My attention caught by Official Google for Work blog post Google Drive + third-party apps = files at your fingertips. It speaks about how Drive for Works can integrate with 3rd party application while maintain security at the same time.

Drive for Work enables collaboration and content sharing for businesses large and small and helps them share and access their files — even from different cloud applications. Google Drive extends the reach of business applications by taking content that previously was only available in a single application, and making it available across multiple applications — all while maintaining security.


The list of application is interesting – CRM, Project management and others. The idea of browsing documents managed by other systems is interesting and can provide advantages to engineers and other users of CAD tools. It made me think about CAD data is getting exposed to Google Drive via 3rd party. Navigate to Google Dev site to get some examples – What Can You Do with the Drive Platform?


For long time, CAD/PDM topic was banned from cloud. Not anymore. Cloud PDM ban lifted and companies are going to explore how to manage CAD data by leveraging cloud in a most efficient ways. Google Drive and some other technologies from companies focusing on cloud file sharing can provide a foundation to make your native file system transparent to the cloud. Existing desktop CAD tools will leverage it by accessing files. Web API combined with CAD API can be used to develop new type of PDM solutions.

What is my conclusion? Technology will make difference. CAD vendors are on the path of bringing new cloud CAD systems (few examples – Dassault zero file strategy, Autodesk Fusion 360, OnShape). At the same time, desktop CAD systems represent mainstream community of engineers demanding better data management and collaboration tools. These tools have to require little to no IT and integration into existing cloud eco-system to share data. So, Google Drive for Work technology has a chance. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Steve

    Kenesto has supported this concept for a while – initially with Dropbox – although I suspect you already knew that.

  • beyondplm

    Steve, The idea is to make folders and files transparently available from Google drive. I haven’t seen any vendor doing that without synchronizing an entire file/folders structure into local directory. The key point of Z-drive in an organization is to keep a single place to store all files and share them transparently and with appropriate security level.

    I don’t recall Kenesto doing such stuff. But I probably missed that. Is there any video materials you can share showing how Kenesto can do so?
    Thanks, Oleg

  • Steve

    I have no videos to share at this time, but we effectively do what you are describing both with and without synchronization – with the idea of leveraging and/or replacing the Z: Drive. Some of this is currently only enabled within Kenesto domain tenants (meaning only internal to us). Perhaps I will show you the next time we’re together. It’s coming together very nicely.

  • Steve

    Oh, and the automatic synchronization maintains appropriate version control as well as permissions. This way, if you have “download only” permission, as an example, you can synchronize to one or more of your locations, and any updates will automatically be synchronized to those locations for you (in addition to notifications being sent).

  • beyondplm

    Steve, I’m not sure understood what you said. However, my point was that to sync data to all local machines from Google drive (or dropbox), you will have your local discs exploded with data. Dropbox solves similar problem by allowing you to say what folders to sync. But it won’t work with interlinked data like CAD. so, this is no go for PDM.

  • beyondplm

    tell me when you have something available public. I’m collecting all vendors doing cloud PDM here — Cloud PDM ban lifted. What next? —

    tnx, Oleg

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