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Autodesk Cloud

What do you think about “PLM Collaboration”?… Yes, I can hear you – boring. However, what if I tell that collaboration can be cool again? Over the past year, I was tracking few vendors investing and playing with a collaboration topic. Today I decided to give you my perspective on what I believe will re-invent “collaboration” to the degree that will allow to regular people work and love these new collaborative tools.

Easy To Get

This one is simple. Nobody wants to deal with installations these days. If you want to provide a collaborative system, please make it available online or in the way that simplifies a path to start using a tool. This is absolutely critical.

Access and Mobile

Access is one of the very important things, collaboration needs to adopt. Collaborative tools need to be available everywhere and not restricted to a particular environment, infrastructure or device. This is in the past. Nowadays, mobile and BYOD rocks the field. All together it will create a significant challenge for IT, but it is just must go this way.

Collaboration and Cool

Cool is important! Don’t make it boring. You may say cool is not important when it comes to the business. I think opposite. Even if enterprise companies are still driven by old generation people, “new influencers” become more and more visible. People want to keep the same cool devices and use the same cool systems as they use at home.

New Gen of Collaboration Tools

I’d like to share few videos related to new collaboration tools I’m following. The first one is Vuuch. The company was established back in 2009. The idea of Vuuch is to improve collaboration by social interaction. Last version of Vuuch – V5 introduced additional features that make a deeper connection to working processes. You can see a video here. My guess usability is one of the biggest topics.

SolidWorks n!Fuze is a system to help engineers to collaborate mostly with SolidWorks files. It adopts cloud and improves connection between people and files outside of organization. It was released last year (2011). It was a flagship product for SolidWorks and use Enovia v6 cloud platform. At the same time, SolidWorks admitted many mistakes that were made.

Autodesk Cloud. This product is kind of n!Fuze remake together with the attempt to bring easy collaboration with files. It looks a bit Googlish, but fundamentally lack of many functions. The user experience of Autodesk cloud shows that customers are more in focus.

TeamPlatform. This is a newest addition to my “collaboration collection”. I found the application behavior slick and nice. This system clearly taking the cool and best experience of consumer web. You can navigate here to learn more. It supports few scenarios around file collaboration, managing projects and other files. It is too early to say what TeamPlatform can do, but it looks interesting.

What is my conclusion? I think more companies will try to challenge large vendors with new type of applications leveraging cloud, mobile and other best practices. It is interesting how they will be able to find a precise scenario to interest engineers and other people in organizations to start using that. We will need to get back to this topic in few months to see trajectories of collaborations.

Best, Oleg

picture credit David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Cloud is one of my favorite topics. Back, two years ago, on SWW 2010, SolidWorks made a broad statement about the future of SolidWorks on the cloud and SolidWorks technological experiments in that space. I can see lots of changes happened since that time. Cloud computing is clearly going mainstream. It takes companies to understand what and how they should behave on the cloud. I wanted to put some thoughts about SolidWorks, cloud computing, and product data management. Until now, SolidWorks didn’t make any new announcement related to “cloud products”.

SolidWorks Users and PDM

As I mentioned yesterday in my post, SolidWorks keeps the status quo in PDM. Enterprise PDM remains the mainstream PDM story for SolidWorks and as I can hear from many people at the conference, the adoption of EPDM is growing. At the same time, the overall PDM adoption in SolidWorks community is relatively low. My very conservative assessment is that about 70-80% of SolidWorks customers today have no product data management solution. The problem of these customers to adopt PDM solution mainly related to two major factors: complexity and IT resources.

SolidWorks n!Fuze

SolidWorks introduced first (and for the moment, only one) cloud data management product – SolidWorks n!Fuze. The initial kickoff of this product wasn’t very successful. Some mistakes were made in terms of product usability as well as pricing. It was mentioned during the Q&A session with SolidWorks VP R&D Gian Paolo Bassi. I’ve heard the same opinion from others’ people, including SolidWorks product managers and R&D people. Version 2 of n!Fuse is expected to come later this year. I’m expecting to see improvements in user experience. Maybe some changes in pricing will be done as well.

Cloud and SolidWorks opportunity

Back in SWW 2010, cloud topic raised lots of debates. However, if I analyze them in a detailed way, most of criticism was about taking SolidWorks CAD to the cloud. At the same time, I was able to hear that use of cloud to improve data-sharing capabilities and collaboration can be a very interesting option. Today, it is even clearer to me. The opportunity to improve product data access and data management using cloud technology is huge, in my view. Two major showstoppers for EPDM adoption – complexity and IT resources can be removed by cloud. Even very small teams and individual engineers will be able to access CAD models, drawings and other product data inside the company and beyond using mobile devices.

What SolidWorks competitors are doing?

In my view, the opportunity is well understood by competitors and the community. Few years ago, PTC introduced Windchill Product Point. PTC tried to leverage SharePoint to address problem of complexity and IT resources. In my view, it didn’t work and PTC retired ProductPoint. Autodesk is clearly coming after the opportunity by focusing on smaller manufacturing companies. At the same time, it is not clear how Autodesk Nexus PLM will address the need of “PDM-less customers”. Autodesk announcements clearly stated a combination of Autodesk Vault on premises and Autodesk Nexus PLM on the cloud as two main components of the solution. From my conversation with Autodesk people, I understood that they are aware about the potential of PDM-less customers and thinking how to address that. I can see potential for Autodesk Cloud (introduced few months ago), but in my view, it suffers from similar problems you can see in SolidWorks n!Fuze.

What is my conclusion? Cloud is a game changer. The ability of cloud products to solve the problem of complexity of deployment and IT resources with a combination of low-cost and availability cannot be missed. The opportunity is well understood by both SolidWorks and Autodesk selling products to smaller manufacturing companies. I can see everything that was done, until now, as “trials”. It will be interesting to see next steps. The simplicity is hard to address, and we all know that. I will be heading to SolidWorks 3rd day general session in few hours, which is traditionally focused on product announcements. Maybe some news will be coming from there. Stay tuned…

Best, Oleg

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Let me ask you a very silly question? How many times you abandoned you official company policy for data sharing and shared your files via Google, Dropbox or other services? Well, you don’t need to answer… I’m sure you did at least once. The amount of services helping us to share files online (cloud sharing) is growing. They compete by providing a different set of features, additional free storage or unmatched usability and simplicity. Last week Dropbox made an announcement of Dropbox for Teams introducing a new storage capacity (1TB) and new way of billing for companies. Here is the announcement – Dropbox Gets More Business Like. It made me think again about what does it mean for engineers and people in manufacturing companies.

Online Storage Experience?

I’m not pretending to mention all providers of online storage. My personal usage is limited on a daily basis to Google and Dropbox. However, I made a try of few other services as well.

DropBox For Teams

Dropbox originally came with their super simplicity. It was easy to set up and start using. I still believe it is so and use this service occasionally for different purposes. To sync data between my laptop and iPad is one of them.

Box.net

I think box.net has a larger set of features when it comes to collaboration and team usage. However, compared to Dropbox they provide less storage for the same price

SugarSync

I found SugarSync service is nice, worked well with most of computers /systems I tried. Folders sharing feature is cool. Another interesting solution – integration into Outlook is also can be valuable for business users.

Minus

The Minus service is probably less known among others. I specially liked they level of how easy you can start using it as well as share files.

CAD Online Collaboration Services

CAD companies are thinking how to introduce their online services too. In the beginning of this year, SolidWorks introduced n!Fuze for SolidWorks. Last month, Autodesk introduced their new Autodesk Documents cloud services too. The obvious advantage of these tools is included connection to CAD content and additional viewing capabilities.

What is my conclusion? Drop Box for Team as well as other tools are cool and affordable. However, will it compete with specialized services such as Autodesk Cloud, n!Fuze for SolidWorks and some others? I don’t think so, for the moment. Their feature list is too narrow for CAD files. However, here is the thing. I definitely can recommend CAD vendors to learn how all these services are designing their user experience. It will allow to improve usability of specialized CAD-oriented services. What CAD vendors can learn – usability, usability, usability. In my view, very important. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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From MultiCAD, to Multi-Cloud. Thoughts about Cloud Realities…

September 27, 2011

I think we are actually in the beginning of a very interesting time. Obviously, you know a lot of things about Multi-CAD. No need to explain. However, I think we are slowly moving into something new – I’d call it “Multi-Cloud”. It is less than one day passed since I posted “Autodesk Quietly Launched Their […]

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