Develop3D LIVE: The stage for “cloud CAD” competition

March 27, 2015

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


Develop3D Live agenda: Cloud CAD, 3D printing and more

March 25, 2015

develop3dlive-bags

I’m in Warwick today getting prepared for Develop3D Live conference, which will be tomorrow. The full conference agenda is here. Develop3D will be live streaming main stage of the event to US – there registration link is here and information about scheduling.

The number of the bags and main stage session hall can give some indication about potential size of the event. Numbers will be tomorrow… I was reading through the conference agenda and decided to share some of my thoughts.

Cloud CAD is a main topic on the agenda

I got a feeling that cloud and more specifically “cloud CAD” will become the key topic for the conference. Keynotes from Carl Bass of Autodesk and Jon Hirschtick of Onshape in the morning is a clear indication about what will set a stage for Develop3D Live conference. Another two sessions from new SolidWorks CEO Jean-Paolo Bassi “What is next?” and “Trends, challenges and opportunities” in design and engineering by Dan Staples of Siemens PLM just an additional confirmation – CAD is the topic on the agenda. Frame (the new name Mainframe2) is also presentation on the same topic – Why CAD in the cloud is closer than you think?

Start-up business

It is unusual to see a whole track of agenda dedicated to building engineering and manufacturing startups. It includes presentation by Rob Misslebrook of Mylor Ventures about funding of projects and visionary sessions about new industrial revolution by Autodesk and Protoabs UK presenting about how to support manufacturing start-ups with manufacturing resources and advisory.

3D printing is around us

If your interest in 3D printing, you can spend a whole day on 3D printing / make track. It includes industry sessions, visionary and examples of companies using 3D printing in their business

What is my conclusion? No conclusion yet. Look forward to the event. The final session of the event – panel discussion about future of CAD. That should be interested. It is not clear yet who will attend that session. Stay tuned and follow #D3DLive on twitter tomorrow.

Best, Oleg

Few photos from Warwick this morning.

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How CAD vendors “murdered” PDM business

March 23, 2015

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

 


Autodesk and Onshape disagree about cloud technology and focus

March 18, 2015

onshape-fusion-apples-to-apples

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 regards to different cloud approaches – PDM/PLM. Why cloud? Wrong question… I think, recent appearance of Onshape generated a large amount of industry discussion about how “cloud CAD” tools can be using different cloud technologies.

SolidSmack came with a great idea of simultaneous interview featuring parallel Q&A with Carl Bass and Jon Hirschtick. 6 questions, 100 words to answer. Short and sweet. Navigate you browsers to the link – Carl Bass + Jon Hirschtick = CAD in The Cloud Interview of the Year and enjoy the read.

I’ve been reading Q&A and was trying to find a key difference between Onshape and Autodesk Fusion 360 approaches. You probably had a chance to read my previous article – Carl Bass and Jon Hirschtick are in agreement about future of cloud CAD. The last Q&A didn’t change my opinion about that. I still believe both Autodesk and Onshape are recognizing cloud as a biggest trend and opportunity to improve design, engineering and manufacturing tools. At the same time, SolidSmack’s Q&A helped me to find a two important differentiations between Autodesk Fusion 360 and Onshape.

Full CAD in a browser

You can clearly read Jon’s statements about “full cloud”, which goes across all his answers. Technologically, it translated in the tech approach to provide full Onshape 3D design capabilities completely in a “browser”. Here is the passage, which explains that in the best way:

Jon: We at Onshape have a very clear and unique strategy: full-cloud 3D CAD. Our full 3D CAD system runs in browsers — no downloads or installs — and on phones and tablets. Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iPhone, iPad — full 3D CAD on any of these.

You still need to install Onshape app to run on mobile devices (I use Onshape iOS app on my iPhone and iPad). So, pure browser solution is applicable approach for running Onshape on Mac, Windows and Chromebook. Yesterday, I had to re-install a very early Onshape app on my iOS because it was crashing to run with upgraded version of Onshape (this is just my guess). Which is again a confirmation that any installation is potentially creating an additional barrier of complexity.

An integrated cloud-based experience

Autodesk Fusion 360 is focusing on how to provide a complete workflow for users going from the early design stage to manufacturing and fabrication. Here is the passage from Q&A:

Carl: We wanted to solve many of the problems that people experience today in terms of the workflows necessary to accomplish their overall jobs—so we used the best of cloud and mobile technology to build a comprehensive CAD system that goes all the way from ideation to fabrication.

Experience is a popular word in a lexicon of modern software. And this is absolutely important for users these days. The traditional experience is to run dozens of tools on a desktop and use files for interoperability between them. This file-based approach has many flaws and, I think, time finally came to change that. Autodesk’s focus to use cloud technologies to connect workflows and integrate between different stages of design is absolutely important.

Next week, I will have an opportunity to attend Develop3D Live where both Jon Hirschtick and Carl Bass are going to speak about cloud CAD. Agenda is here. Develop3D will live stream the event – registration link is here.

What is my conclusion? Autodesk has more mature product, which leverage almost 5 years of Autodesk development and experiments with different cloud tools and customers. Integrated cloud product experience on top of Autodesk A360 platform can be an advantage for many users. Coming later in the game, Onshape is more focusing on developing of unique “pure browser” technologies that can provide differentiation to users – ease of access and simplicity of data collaboration. I don’t see two approaches as mutually exclusive. Onshape apps on mobile devices is a confirmation that Onshape tech can be used with installed software too. At the same time, Autodesk focus on integrated workflows can become more important for Onshape later in the game. At the same time, Autodesk can innovate future with the ways applications are installing and used. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Jomphong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


Offline cloud and why CAD / PLM industry discussion is important

March 10, 2015

cad-plm-industry-discussion

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, concerns – this is all good stuff.

My special attention caught by Autodesk CEO Carl Bass blog post – Setting the Record Straight. For the last five years, I’ve seen Autodesk as one of the most visible and prominent supporters of cloud technologies in CAD / PLM business (full transparency – I was Autodesk employee for the last 2.5 years). Autodesk for sure gathered a lot of experience in development and operation of cloud software. So, Carl’s opinion was very insightful. In one of my earlier blog posts I put some of my thoughts why I think Jon Hirschtick and Carl Bass are in the agreement about cloud CAD. But it was clear to me, there are differences as well. I captured few of them in the Carl’s post and wanted to share my thoughts about that.

The first point is about offline and cloud. Here is the passage I captured:

How do we know offline is important? Because when we first rolled out Fusion 360, the single biggest complaint we got is that people wanted access to their data and tools even when they had limited or no Internet connectivity. And how do we know about the tradeoffs? Because we built the tools that more engineers use on web, mobile and desktops than anyone else in the world. Our goal is to make sure our customers have access to the tools and data they need on any device they want.

I think the key point here is "tradeoffs" and real experience. Each customer scenario can be slightly different. If you have limited access to internet, you probably not cloud CAD user. However, in case you are going in the basement of manufacturing facilities or product site with no access, or (this is classic sales example) you want to design on board of airplane, you will appreciate offline access to a snapshot of the data.

My personal experience with Gmail and Google Docs about the same topic shows that you want to get some offline access and there are moment of times, it is very important. Some of them are covered by apps synching a snapshot of your last few days of emails on the device and some of them can be added to the list of actions I can handle when I go back online. What would be very important for me is how seamlessly software can go between online and offline mode. In many situations, I would prefer not to have offline mode if it will make my sync process cumbersome. My hunch, people favorite Google Apps because their online access first. Microsoft Outlook is one of the best tools I used that can provide smooth email sync. However, CAD data relationships and dependencies can introduce a significant challenge to make offline access efficient. But this is an interesting and complex feature to watch.

The second point I captured is related to browsers and installed applications. Here is the comment from Carl post:

Now let me directly address the question of access to the cloud via browsers or apps. Look at your phone or tablet where both the browser and apps exist. Which one do you choose to use? It depends. If I’m accessing my email I tend to use the mail apps on my devices. If I’m using Evernote or Twitter or A360, I prefer the apps. But there are many times where the browser is more convenient and over time, the browser will definitely get better.

The key point I care about is what is my experience. This is what really matters to me. We live at the time roles of operation systems, browsers and applications are often exchanged. While you may think about Chrome as a browser, for Chromebook users, it is an entire operation system. For the last few years we considering installation of software as something disturbing things we like to avoid. At the same time, we are installing tons of apps on our mobile devices and browsers. For many situations, I don’t care about installation until it can update itself when it needed and unless it doesn’t impact what I do – experience is a thing to remember.

However, despite some level of disagreement between Jon and Carl, the following summary is really important. In my view, it is an excellent summary of why cloud is important for the future of engineering and manufacturing software. Here are few passages:

First and foremost, the cloud provides access to nearly infinite and scalable computing power at reasonable costs. In the world of engineering, this is incredibly powerful. We have used the cloud for compute-intensive tasks like visualization, simulation and analysis. The second thing that the cloud is ideally suited to do is be the central coordination point for storage, data management and collaboration. Behind all of our cloud-based products are the tools that allow people to manage their data and their projects.

What is my conclusion? Onshape availability is a great news for the industry of engineering and manufacturing software. Fusion360 and Onshape are two very important products to watch for the next few years. The competition means there is a market to compete for and there is an interest from customers. We can clearly see it now. Beyond that, open discussion is a very good thing to build a healthy industry. Vendors will be innovating and competing – customers will be the first to leverage that. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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

March 6, 2015

plm-cloud-landscape

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 considering cloud as part of their PLM strategy is growing. How to decide what is the right cloud strategy for you? The dilemma of public vs private cloud is one of the most challenging for many companies.

My attention was caught by ReadWrite web article – You Think Private Clouds Are More Stable And Agile Than Public? Think Again. The article provides a set of good arguments for public cloud option. Here is my favorite passage:

Of course, your CIO’s job is only truly threatened by the public cloud if she chooses to fight it, or mindlessly continues to believe she can build a better cloud than Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. For 99.999% of enterprises, building your own cloud or data center may be a comforting way to stick with old habits, but it’s generally going to be the wrong decision. While there are certainly workloads that will perform better or need to be secured within the four walls of your firewall, the reality is that most infrastructure belongs in the cloud.

No, You Can’t. It’s a convenient fiction that public cloud is unreliable compared to private IT. But let’s be clear: it’s fiction, not fact. Here’s the reality on public cloud up-time: last year Amazon Web Services managed 99.9974% uptime despite hefty growth and unparalleled pressure on its infrastructure. Google was even better at 99.999% uptime. (Microsoft Azure performed a bit worse, though still quite well, according to the Cloud Harmony data.)

In lights of this article, I decided to make a check and see what cloud options are supported by different PLM vendors. Here is a short summary of my discovery (alphabetical order of vendors).

1- Aras PLM is supporting Azure public cloud and, in addition to that saying that Aras is capable to run on any cloud infrastructure (public and private). Here is the link to Aras website.

2- Arena Solutions is cloud solutions. There is no specific information on the website about public vs. private options. My assumption, Arena is public cloud.

3- Autodesk PLM360 is cloud only solution. There is no specific public vs. private information on PLM360 website. My assumption PLM360 is public cloud.

4- Dassault Systems announced to support all cloud options by 2015. See my blog about it. I cannot find a link to a specific cloud configuration available for the moment. The following link presents a list of ENOVIA on the cloud products.

5- Oracle Agile PLM is available via hosted environment. The link with more information is here via Oracle partners. I wasn’t able to find specific information about public vs. private cloud options. More information is here.

6- PTC PLM cloud is supporting both private and public cloud options as you can see it from PTC website. Here is the link, which presents PTC cloud portfolio stating private instance for both premium and enterprise cloud options.

7- SAP cloud applications website is not providing any link to PLM solutions. At the same time, SAP PLM website has zero references to cloud solutions.

8- Siemens PLM is supporting IaaS based cloud deployment. According to the information on the following link, TeamCenter is compatible with Amazon Web services and future support is planned for IBM and Microsoft clouds.

What is my conclusion? Most of PLM vendors are supporting public cloud. It is a real change and it just happened over the past 2-3 years. However, devil is in details. A specific architecture of cloud solution can make a difference. In the past, I put several articles discussing details of cloud technologies. The following link can be a good starting point to discuss definition of true cloud PLM solution. In a nutshell it comes to 4 things – available on demand, hosted, elastic, global access. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Cloud CAD infrastructure is getting more PDM-ish

March 2, 2015

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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 get work done – online, connected, collaborative.

The initial intent of collaborative cloud systems was to solve the problem of collaboration and data sharing. The idea to provide a value on top of existing CAD desktop file systems was interested. So, specialized cloud CAD file sharing and collaboration systems got focus and attention.

At the same time, CAD vendors got to think about longer term solutions. CATIA was one of the first systems that announced the disconnect from a traditional file systems. I posted about that few years ago – The future of CAD without files.

These days, the race towards cloud CAD is accelerating development of data management and CAD collaboration technologies for the cloud. Few weeks ago, I shared some of my thoughts about importance of PDM technologies for cloud CAD. Cloud CAD vendors are clear about their intent to make PDM part of their core product technology.

My attention caught Autodesk Fusion360 article – Fusion System Architecture Changes Coming in the Next Release – Why and What. Read it, because it contains some very interesting pieces of information about how files are going to disappear into future cloud infrastructure. Here is the passage I captured:

With the coming release of Fusion, we will be introducing significant changes to Fusion Cloud Service architecture that lays a strong foundation on which we can build an environment that is rich in WIP DM. As part of this change, we are introducing the Autodesk Work In Progress Cloud Service which is designed to model and manage complex relationships that are associated with a design. The service is highly scalable, highly available and optimized for performance. Another important change in the February release is significant improvements to the Fusion Object Storage Service. Taken together, these changes will result in immediate benefits in the way of performance gains and high reliability in the Fusion upload and download data pipeline, and allow the Fusion team to deliver rich DM workflows in subsequent releases.

Another article from Fusion360 blog brings an excellent explanation what these date services mean for end user. These are functions that belonging to PDM system in a traditional file based CAD / PDM setup.

…it solves so many common design problems that we’ve heard from the community, both in Fusion 360 and other programs, and improves workflows for both teams and single designers. Branching and merging lets you easily:Work in parallel with other members of your team. Explore changes or alternatives to a project and keep changes that make sense while leaving behind changes that don’t. Understand how your project evolved over time and what decisions were made (and why). Restore or reuse any design(s) in your project from any point in your project. Use any point in your project as a starting point for a different project.

What is my conclusion? It is hard to bring a value of cloud design collaboration without re-thinking the way CAD-PDM bundle is operating. For new type of cloud CAD systems it means to embed core PDM collaborative function and make it part of CAD system. It sounds like a very exciting time- many collaboration and data management problems are going to be solved by that. However, here is a question. What will happen when two cloud CAD systems will have to collaborate together? Looks like a topic for another blog. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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