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super-cloud-pdm

Cloud is transforming businesses and technologies. CAD and PDM are going to be transformed too. If you had a chance to follow my blog last week, you probably read my thoughts from Develop3D LIVE conference in Warwick, England. If you missed, navigate to my previous post – Develop3D LIVE set the stage for cloud CAD competition.

I found it interesting, but cloud CAD is coming at first to solve old PDM problem – multiple file copies, revision management, branching, data sharing and collaboration. If I look on both Autodesk Fusion360 and Onshape, I can see that PDM functionality is coming included. By doing that, new future price of PDM licenses is finally set to zero. However, there are some complications too.

Does cloud CAD/PDM solve all data management problems? There is no simple answer on this question. Here is the thing. If you think about single system – Fusion360 or Onshape, you can think about PDM as a solved problem. However, if you zoom out in your company business, the first question you can ask – what happens if I want to use both systems? Should I get two clouds? What will be interoperability between these two and future cloud CAD systems? Some of my thoughts about that are here – will cloud CAD inherit data interoperability problem?

Actually, cloud CAD systems are not alone in this multi-cloud challenge. My attention caught by TechCrunch article – BetterCloud Raises $25 Million From Accel To Create Universal Tools For Monitoring The Office Cloud. The opportunity BetterCloud is related to management multiple cloud services used by the same organization. While Google Docs and Office365 are much widely used than Fusion360, Onshape and cloud SolidWorks, the problem is very similar. Here is my favorite passage from the article:

That competition has been great for corporate IT departments in providing choice, but the diversity of options has also dramatically increased the complexity of managing these clouds within a corporate environment. Identities need to synchronize across platforms, and monitoring the performance and security of these services is challenging, particularly in a time of austerity in many IT budgets.In short, managing multiple clouds – or even just one – requires a whole new set of tools.

The association with Google Docs and Office is especially helpful, since Onshape is using Google Docs paradigm to demonstrate core principles of new cloud CAD architecture.

Manufacturing companies are familiar with the situation when they need to manage multiple PDM systems. Very often, this is a CAD/PDM/PLM configuration for companies using multiple CAD systems and central PLM/ERP systems. In such situation, companies are managing CAD data with PDM developed by each CAD vendors. It helps to maintain CAD version compatibility and support multiple CAD systems. Does it mean that double PDM tax will be coming to the cloud too?

What is my conclusion? Cloud systems are slowly became reality in many businesses these days. However, while solving one problem, it can bring new problems. Or, actually, it takes an existing problem and moves it to another place – to the cloud. Engineers will have to work with multiple cloud systems and leverage their advantages. However, it also creates new level of data management complexities. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of sumetho at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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stairways-to-cloud

I attended Develop 3D Live yesterday in Warwick UK. It is probably the only vendor independent event focusing on CAD, 3D, design and engineering. It was my first time at Develop 3D Live. I think number of attendees was about 1’500 – 2’000 people at its peak time. All major CAD vendors presented at the event – Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, PTC and Siemens PLM. It was also first time public appearance for Onshape. The event was live streamed to U.S. time zones and had good twitter coverage at #D3DLive. You can follow the history of twitter stream here. I’m sure Develop3D will make recording available too.

Future CAD – #1 topic on the list

The future of CAD was the #1 topic on the list. The theme was set clear – cloud CAD. The agenda included keynotes from all CAD vendors – Carl Bass (Autodesk), Jon Hircshticsk (Onshape), Dan Staples (Siemens PLM), Gian Paolo Bassi (Dassault / SolidWorks), Brian Thompson (PTC)  and the panel discussion (Future CAD) with Jon Hirschtick, Mike Payne, Kevin Schneider, Gian Paolo Bassi and Nikola Bozinovic (Frame / aka Mainframe2). Presentation, panel, off line conversation made me think about this interesting “cloud moment” in engineering software. I’ve heard it from many people during the event – it is a time to shake CAD industry again.

A new history of cloud CAD

I think, the first time time, word “cloud” was mentioned out loud by one of major CAD vendors was SolidWorks World 2010. That was the time when SolidWorks introduced SolidWorks cloud prototype, which worked in browser and on Mac OS. Here is the passage I captured from Cadalyst article back in 2010.

Next came the buzz-worthy preview of SolidWorks on the cloud (aka software as a service, or SaaS), wherein software is hosted on powerful server farms and users access it using an Internet browser. “This is designed not for flash, but to solve problems and make your life easier,” Ray said, adding that the technology has been in development for three years. Cloud computing overcomes the challenges of software installation and maintenance and, according to the company, keeps data secure. It is multi-platform by its very nature, meaning it is accessible to users regardless of operating system, and it can accommodate touch-based modeling and finger and pen interaction — that is, any wireless-connected device from anywhere could link the user to the full functionality of the 3D software

The period of time between 2010 and 2015 is a good demonstration of the speed of changes in engineering industry domain. It took long five years, lot of debates, many technological changes and here you go – cloud CAD became mainstream topic in the conference agenda. It still doesn’t mean the majority of CAD users are moving to the cloud. But the trend is clear – people are exploring the opportunity and potential of cloud CAD today. The reality - we are just scratching the beginning of a much bigger change of what cloud CAD will do to engineering and manufacturing software. The fun time is ahead.

Business and licensing model changes

Cloud is a topic that often brings confusion between technology and licensing. Cloud based business models are taking their roots back into ASP business (Application Service Provider) and, lately, to SaaS (Software as a Service). SaaS is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”. The “hosting” element of SaaS is not required and you can provide subscriptions for the software installed on a desktop too.

Subscription based licensing popularity is growing in engineering and manufacturing software. Many of CAD and PLM vendors are shifting their licensing into “subscription only” these days. Although, licensing is very important, it is not specifically related to “cloud CAD” discussion in my view. There are many examples of software that delivered as installed application, but sold on subscription basis.

Technologies

The discussion is heating up when it comes to cloud CAD and technologies. I want to mention some of them – data management, graphic, geometry modeling, browser, security, virtualization.

Data management is one of the key components of cloud CAD. Some of you can be surprised, but cloud CAD is coming first to solve PDM problems related to poor data management of CAD files – accessibility, locations, references, copies, sharing, versions, collaboration. To make it happen, cloud CAD should come with solid data foundation capable to manage data using modern database and cloud storage technologies.

Graphic systems. The debates here are going around how rich CAD graphic can be available on different devices – laptops and mobile devices. Remember, original CAD high performance workstations had impressive performance characteristics. Very often, CAD systems worked with dedicated graphic cards and specific memory requirements. How is it going to change? Time will show that.

Geometry modeling is important for CAD and in defines critical foundation characteristics. Interesting enough, this technology is not much in focus for the moment. I didn’t capture many discussions about that. It looks like CAD vendors are going to leverage existing geometrical kernels and will focus on geometric modeling later. Although, I can see some interesting potential to simplify migration from existing CAD systems to new cloud products using same geometric modelers. The most interesting one here is SolidWorks and SolidEdge to Onshape migration (all systems are sharing Parasolid kernel).

Browser. This is an important technological component to deliver cloud CAD. The debates “cloud vs. browser” are heating up. The ability of browser to run full CAD system is an interesting opportunity that cannot be underestimated. If browser will be capable to deliver full CAD functionality, it can become a big deal in removing entry barrier for customers. It is also connected to the discussion about “offline” use. Internet is still unreliable in some places and we are going to hear many debates how to get advantage of cloud CAD without internet access.

Security. This is “red herring” discussion. The topic of security is important, but it is equally important for non-CAD domains. Each group of customers will take their own path and speed in cloud adoption and security requirements will follow these groups.

Virtualization. This is an interesting technological topic. Especially, when it comes to the desktop. The potential to virtualize desktop and run all Windows applications “as is” on the cloud is inspiring many companies. It brings many other questions. One of them – do we really want to bring messy desktop experience to the cloud? I’d prefer to leave all file and data management problems behind and not to move it to the cloud. However, virtualization can be a greatest short term opportunity for cloud and CAD.

Cloud CAD: products and differentiations

I assume all CAD vendors are recognizing cloud as a trend, opportunity and change that is coming to the industry. Their strategies and reactions are different. Some of them are using cloud as a jump start to shake up the industry. On the conservative side, vendors accept cloud as a technology for new type of delivery models. Below, I put a short summary capturing position and reaction of CAD vendors on cloud CAD future as it was discussed during Develop3D Live.

Autodesk: Cloud is strategic direction for Autodesk. According to Autodesk, cloud is not a future, but reality Autodesk is living for the last five years. Autodesk developed many cloud products. Autodesk Fusion360 is a central part of cloud CAD offering. The focus of Fusion360 to provide support for design, engineering and manufacturing workflows by leveraging data and social collaboration.

autodeskcloud

Dassault Systems / SolidWorks: Cloud is a delivery technology for SolidWorks and Dassault. SolidWorks Industrial Design is a new cloud product for conceptual design. Cloud is part of a broader vision of 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which support a diverse set of design, engineering and manufacturing workflows.

solidworkscloud

Onshape: As a newcomer company, Onshape is laser focused on technological differentiators – pure browser and no installation required. PDM functions are included in core Onshape product and provide support for versions, branches, undo/redo and collaboration.

onshapecloud

PTC: Unfortunately, I missed PTC session at Develop3D Live. In my view, PTC is slowly moving towards cloud. One of their last announcements was about new “cloud PLM” offerings. I also think, PTC was the last CAD vendor that said “cloud” word in public. I haven’t heard about anything related to “cloud CAD” from PTC. But maybe PTC is baking something for coming PTC Live conference .

Siemens PLM / SolidEdge: Cloud is clearly a delivery technology for SolidEdge. Recently announced cloud trial version of SolidEdge delivered using virtualization layer and it is complimentary to their cloud PLM IaaS strategies.

solidedge-cloud

What is my conclusion? It is a time to shake CAD industry with cloud. I’ve heard this statement many times from attendees of Develop3D Live. It will be interesting to see the development of products and technologies for the next few years. For new vendors like Onshape (and maybe few others in stealth mode) it will be a race towards traction and customer adoption. Established CAD vendors can clearly leverage their existing customer base. It is much easier to preserve existing customers rather than sell to new ones. I’m sure we will see many interesting turns and new opportunities discovered on the road to cloud CAD. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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cad-ambush-pdm

Here is the passage I captured during my weekend reading – We only sleep at night because Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Elon Musk don’t want our businesses. Yet. It came from the Warren Ellis’ article The New Tech Disruption: Murdering Businesses and Haunting Their Corpses. The article is a very nice summary of examples demonstrating the dynamics of businesses these days and aggressiveness towards earlier partners and future competitors. It is must read for everyone who is building business these days. Here is one example:

If you build your business on top of someone else’s system, eventually they’re going to notice. Just last week, the livestreaming app Meerkat, which uses Twitter to transmit, felt a cold breeze pass through the room when Twitter bought the competing system Periscope, which will doubtless be baked into Twitter as soon as possible. Digital businesses can murder and haunt their own parasites.

The article made me think more about what happens in product data management (PDM) businesses. Let me go back in time into 1990s or maybe even earlier. Do you remember the beginning of PDM (product data management)  or how it was called TDM (technical data management)? PDM was born to manage CAD files. The fundamental idea was to solve a problem created by CAD system. CAD systems used files to store data. But, as you know, most of CAD systems are not creating single file, but use MANY files to store data. These files are interconnected for different purposes – parts are used by assemblies, drawings are created out of parts. If you are user of AutoCAD, you must be familiar with the mess that can be created by usage of XREFs. Trying to re-use and share design was painful. You can hear customers screaming for decades about how to find a last revision of a document.

So, the problem was clear identified. The pain was here and PDM vendors came up with a value to help customers – data management system that can keep record of all these files and provides a set of functions to search, share, change, etc. More than 2 decades later, there are no so many PDM companies left. Most of them (successful) were acquired by CAD vendors, many of less successful disappeared. However, what I found mostly interesting is that pain is still here. Users are struggling to manage CAD files, revisions, re-use, search and share files.

During last few years, we had a renaissance of PDM driven mostly by cloud technology. Cloud is an ideal paradigm to share data. So, the idea to develop cloud products to share and view CAD data was appealing to many companies. Some of them developed very good products customers really like, but I can carefully state that none of them turned into sustainable businesses.

So, what happened? Here is my guess – all PDM businesses were murdered… by CAD vendors. Think about acquisition as a kind of murder too. Each CAD vendor acquired (or developed)  PDM product, which was  ”the best for a specific CAD”, but never provided an equally good solution for multiple CAD systems. Most of “other CAD integrations” are developed by partners because of limitations of licensing and partnership agreements. Independent PDM vendors put their focus on developing of multi-CAD strategies and struggled to keep up with CAD features development and API support.

The things are getting more interesting these days. The new era of cloud CAD systems is coming. The most interesting part of cloud CAD systems is that in order to make them successful, CAD vendors will have to solve fundamental PDM problem – to store design data, manage revisions, search and re-use existing designs. You can read more about this in my earlier post – Cloud CAD will have to solve PDM problem at first place.

Last week I attended Onshape webinar where Jon Hirschtick explained why Onshape decided to develop new generation of CAD systems using cloud platform and new browser based technologies. You can see recording here. The following slide caught my attention. You can clearly see – Onshape is going to provide PDM functionality with no additional license cost to all Onshape users.

onshape-data-management

Autodesk, which is strategically focusing on development of cloud technologies and applications for the last five years, is coming with the similar functionality in their Fusion360 product. I captured the following table at Autodesk Fusion360 website. As you can see core PDM functionality is included into Fusion360 subscriptions.

autodesk-fusion360-pdm-functions

The following video is a good demo of Fusion360 data management.

What is my conclusion? PDM business is built on top of CAD systems. In the past, CAD vendors had “love-hate” relationships with PDM businesses. Depends on the time and specific situation, PDM was out of CAD priorities. In some periods PDM businesses helped CAD vendors to collaborate and compete. Things are changing today. Data management is very critical for CAD business. CAD vendors cannot avoid it and let other companies to manage their data. Data management (PDM) is an essential part of cloud CAD success, since it is a part of their “platform” and data management strategies. I can see some interesting competition in front of us about how to get data management done right from cost and user experience standpoints. If your technology knows how to manage CAD data in the cloud, you can be a valuable asset for CAD vendor. If you are building PDM business, you probably will be a target for a future murder. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of nonicknamephoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Autodesk and Onshape disagree about cloud technology and focus

March 18, 2015

For the last few years cloud became such a fuzzy buzzword, that to say about some software “cloud application” is basically means nothing. All companies are shifting towards cloud. So, to understand “how” actual product is leveraging cloud technology is absolutely important to make a comparison. I’ve been discussing the topic of “how to” with […]

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Offline cloud and why CAD / PLM industry discussion is important

March 10, 2015

Yesterday was a very busy day for online community of people involved in engineering and manufacturing software. Onshape, the new cloud CAD ventured founded by Jon Hirschtick and the team announced about availability of public beta. It was hard to miss that announcement in the spike of publications about Onshape. Tons of opinions, initial experience, […]

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Is public cloud reshaping PLM landscape? Time to re-check…

March 6, 2015

The question how to implement PLM cloud is one of the most confusing when it comes to the decision about choosing one of available PLM solutions on the market today. The time when PLM vendors used “cloud” as a differentiation is over. Most of PLM vendors are comfortable with “cloud” word and the number of companies […]

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Cloud CAD infrastructure is getting more PDM-ish

March 2, 2015

PDM was long time a step child for many CAD systems. To deal with CAD files, their relationships and dependencies including multiple revisions of document was complex and painful. So, many customers just gave up and stored files on shared drives. It was okay until the our life was disrupted by a new way to […]

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Cloud CAD will have to solve PDM problems at first place

February 9, 2015

The race towards CAD in the cloud is getting more interesting every day. I’ve been watching SOLIDWORKS World 2015 live streaming this morning. Overall SOLIDWORKS show was very impressive, as usual. I look forward to keep watching it following days. However, what caught my special attention today is a presentation of a new cloud product – […]

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Carl Bass and Jon Hirschtick are in agreement about future of CAD

February 6, 2015

Cloud computing is changing a world around us. CAD and engineering applications are not exception. It has been already five years since SolidWorks team at SolidWorks World 2010 announced about developing of CAD and mobile applications. I found Cadalyst articles – SolidWorks World 2010: Clouds, Macs, Movie Making, and More which speaks about capability of cloud […]

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How to prevent cloud PLM integration mistakes

February 2, 2015

Cloud is huge enabler for collaboration between people. It makes your data and processes accessible everywhere from a browser. It can help you to collaborate between engineers and suppliers. It can help you to integrate systems and people across enterprise. Let me speak about the last one. The integration topic is actually tricky. I’ve been […]

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