Engineers are not asking about cloud and it’s okay..

October 27, 2015


I like surveys. They can help you to discover what people think and motivate to make analysis. My attention was caught by a survey Worldwide CAD Trends done by British-based Business Advantage. This year it surveyed 635 CAD managers and users in several countries. Thanks upFront.Ezine article The state of MCAD industry 2015, which skimmed results of the survey. You can see the visualization (a-la Gartner Quadrant) below

The state of MCAD industry 2015

The following passage is outlining the results:

The results are shocking: Highly-hyped technologies — like cloud-based CAD, virtual reality, and pay-as-you-go monthly subscriptions — suffer from low use and low importance. Few design firms care about them, let alone use them. The media darling, 3D printing, fares better by making it into the Emerging category. Newer technology, like mobile CAD, just gets its nose into the all-important Leading category, while 3D modeling blows away everything else.

I’ve been writing about cloud and implication of these technologies on CAD, PDM, PLM for the last few years. So, probably my blog is one of these that created a hype around “cloud based” technologies? I thought, this survey is a good opportunity to discuss it. So, how important is “cloud” for engineers and other end users?

Digital disruption

The conversations about digital disruption is one I’d like to start with. Fortune article IBM: Modernize your business or risk being Uber-ized put an interesting perspective on transformation in the industry. It is impossible to keep status-quo when your business can be potentially disrupted by digital transformation and data technologies. So, big blue is concerned Here is my favorite passage:

Big Blue executives took the stage at an IBM conference in Las Vegas on Monday to urge companies to undergo a so-called “digital transformation”. “You better figure it out, because there’s an Uber out there that’s already figured it out,” warned Glen Finch, IBM’s global leader of big data and analytics. When talking to customers, Finch said he’s noticed that companies are worried about more nimble startups like Uber overtaking their business. Uber, of course, has upended the taxi industry, which was seen as being slow to counter its fast-rising rival.

SolidWorks 2016 – technology and productivity

In light of digital transformation, it is interesting to see how Dassault Systemes, one of the top leaders in CAD/PLM market segment is reacting. Recent announcement about SolidWorks 2016 is a good example. Dassault is actually adapting by allowing SolidWorks 2016 to run in a browser. SolidWorks is using platform for that. The following article by can bring additional details – SOLIDWORKS 2016 All About Productivity and Technology.

“I am spending 80 percent of my time on the road, all over the world,” says Bassi. “I talk with lots of people and I see there is a mutual love. There isn’t another word. It’s love. We understand very well what makes people successful and productive,” says Bassi. “Every time we disconnect with that thinking we make mistakes. [But now] I hope we are connected.

“It’s not only the technology, though that is critical,” he says. “SOLIDWORKS Online shows we are changing our way of thinking. Our way of relating to customers with easier access, faster access and more flexibility. Today it isn’t easy to get SOLIDWORKS. You have to deal with VARs, licenses, CD installs, and computer hardware,” said Bassi. That is why Bassi believes that SOLIDWORKS online is a good step forward. It empowers as many people as possible with CAD technology.”

No one wanted faster horses, they wanted less horseshit

So, engineers are asking about 3D modeling and not about cloud. Does it mean cloud technology is irrelevant? The famous Henry Ford statement about faster horses is a good example. The following article by HelloErik blog can bring an interesting perspective and explanations – No one said they wanted faster horses, they wanted less horseshit. The real problem of horses wasn’t about speed. It was about flies, disease, smell, dried manure dust, soaked manure mire, cruelty to horses, horse related traffic deaths. Another problem was inefficiency.

Believe it or not, there was a time when there were so many horses that it was part of the 1898 International Urban Planning Conference summit in New York. There were a lot of problems with horses that were reaching a tipping point of inefficiency. Something had to be done, but talking to the “users” about solutions wasn’t going to solve anything – looking at the pain was.

The real problem of Henry Ford was actually different than creating faster horses. It was about manufacturing efficiency and cost.

Henry Ford was trying to solve the high cost of automobiles through assembly lines, interchangeable parts, and financing. If that was the case, the problem he seemed to be solving wasn’t really about horses, but people of the time might have thought he was. Or better, they might have seen it as a car problem; cars are too expensive. Instead of focusing on the problems with manure removal machines, Ford instead solved it, intentionally or not, by bringing the automobile to the common person. This could be considered parallel innovation and revolution. It is the parallel innovation that attacked and began to solve the real pain of the problem.

Cloud technologies – cost and efficiency

I picked the following slide last week during Jon Hirschtick’s presentation at TEC Talk in Boston.


There are two things cloud technology are going to change – cost and efficiency. CAD, PDM, PLM are expensive, the ROI is slow, the mistakes are happening because of misalignment of CAD versions, poor data management and long implementation cycles. Can engineers perform their work now? Yes, they can. Is it possible to make their work more efficient? I guess, cloud technologies have a chance to make this change happen. But a single engineer in an large organization often is not responsible for data management, work organization and IT. Primary responsibility of engineer is to design – hence the quest for better 3D design technology. The hope of engineers from IT and vendors to solve it.

What is my conclusion? Do not get confused by “engineers are not asking for cloud CAD” survey results. Cloud is about business efficiency, speed and cost of software. New technologies will disrupt the formula of software businesses. Existing CAD and PLM vendors will have to adapt or they risk being Uber-ized. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

CAD and cloud marketing controversy

October 21, 2015


CAD and PLM marketing folks have tough time these days. It has been just five years ago, when Jeff Ray, former CEO of SolidWorks shocked everyone at SolidWorks World 2010 by introducing the SWAT team with the objective “to kill SolidWorks”. You can navigate back in time to SolidSmack article – Jeff Ray on V6, the Cloud and Killing SolidWorks.

Five years later SolidWorks 2016 is coming with “online functionlity” that allows to run SolidWorks anywhere. Read more on SolidWorks blog. My attention was caught by Cadalyst article SolidWorks 2016 Goes Online. It gives an additional insight on SolidWorks online functionality. Since now, you can run Solidworks via browser using platform. In my everyday lingo, I’d probably call it “cloud enablement”. But here is the thing… The latest interview with Gian Paolo Bassi proposed an interesting clarification of terms between “cloud” and “online”. Here is the passage:

During discussions of the Online Edition, SolidWorks executives were careful to avoid the term cloud. “A lot of people flap their mouths with ‘cloud, cloud, cloud,’” scoffed Bassi. “We don’t need to fill up our mouth with big words.” “Cloud” starts whenever you have some part of your workflow, your data creation, outside your desktop, he clarified. “We don’t believe that cloud means you run everything in the browser.”

According to Peter Rucinski, director of product portfolio management for SolidWorks desktop products, not many customers are asking for “CAD in the cloud” in particular, but they are asking for flexibility. “They are asking for anytime, anywhere … and SolidWorks Online gives you that flexibility,” he said.

The definition of “online” functionality is coming across with already existing marketing dispute about cloud between Autodesk’s and Onshape. Cloud is vitally important for both Autodesk and Onshape. Therefore, Carl Bass and Jon Hirschtick are in agreement about future of CAD and the cloud. But, for the moment, I can see some disagreement related to technological approach taken by Onshape and Autodesk.

The best way to get into that is to read read SolidSmack’s parallel interview with Jon Hirschtick and Carl Bass. I can see an acknowledgement of cloud. But I can read some marketing controversy at the same time. Carl addresses it in the following passage with the “cloud” as a key word:

Carl – We’ve been saying for awhile that there are two benefits the cloud brings: first, it gives you virtually unlimited amounts of computing, which is critical when you’re talking about solving real engineering problems, specifically simulation, rendering, CAM and even generative design. And secondly, it serves as the central point for sharing, collaborating and managing data projects—critical for distributed teams and those working across the supply chain. Fusion 360 was imagined for this new world, and because it’s built on the cloud, it will be able to easily evolve over time as our customers’ needs change and all the various platforms they use improve.

You can see a different marketing approach taken by Jon which brings “full-cloud” marketing notion based on the technology to run Onshape in a browser.

Full-cloud has been a great new strategy for improving reliability. Because desktop and semi-cloud systems rely on installed CAD software, bugs cause crashes and data loss. Our full-cloud system is distributed across many servers and has no crash-prone installed software — so even when we have bugs they never result in any interruption or loss of work. This improved reliability from our full-cloud architecture has been astounding to users who suffered from typical installed software crashes.

What is my conclusion? Vendors are trying to find a way to market technologies and products in a best ways they can. It resulted in some marketing controversy. I think we will live in a “cloud CAD” marketing limbo for some time now. What is more important is technology and functionality developed by all vendors – Autodesk, Dassault Systems and Onshape. Al Dean of Develop3D made an interesting prediction earlier this year about cloud CAD technologies (read full article here):

Eventually, Fusion will be available via the browser (I’d put a fiver on that being before the end of the year). DS’ next generation SolidWorks products will get better and more accessible. Though strangely, this is the unknown in the calculations as DS is reluctant to talk about the whole thing, presumably to protect its dominance with SolidWorks.

And hopefully, Onshape will have a way of working when you’re offline, as well as internet connected. Finally, I’d hope that DS is much more open about getting its customer’s access to the tools it is developing . The excuse that “They’re using our resources so they should pay” simply won’t cut it as these tools need to be played with, discovered and explored. At the moment, they’re not getting the exposure that they deserve — leaving a whole new market open to Autodesk and Onshape.

So technologies and functions will evolve. Meantime it is very important to demystify cloud CAD marketing and explain the meaning of technologies and product functions to customers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Cloud storage “race to zero” will help to create new type of CAD & PLM solutions

October 8, 2015


Did you pay attention what happened to cloud storage? I’m sure you did. The cost is racing to zero. You can get basically any storage size you want today. Even more, cloud giants like Google and Apple are promoting additional services with unlimited storage capacities.

Cloud giants are building their businesses on top of free cloud storage businesses. The following article by TechCrunch can give you a short explanation about that – The race to zero is awesome. Here is my favorite passage:

In cloud storage, the large players are working to build apps on top of their storage stack, so that they can have a unique value proposition when the price of storage itself finally reaches nil. In cloud computing, it could be that the value add that the large players will use to compete will be their app environment. If you build for, say, Google’s app ecosystem, your cloud compute might be free. If Google’s app ecosystem is the best, you’ll want to work over there, but you wouldn’t if Google didn’t offer competitively priced cloud computing; smaller players could use that to their advantage, and potentially hem in on Google’s business. So compute prices would be pretty uniform across the industry, falling in near unison. That is, of course, precisely what we have seen with cloud storage prices.

You may ask how does it connect to CAD and PLM? Here is the thing- I think there is a disruptive play in creating applications and business models. It will result in changing of fundamental functional and business behaviors. Free storage is convenient – many of us are using free storage to keep our information. It is accessible and reliable. It is getting better in terms of security.

In my earlier article last week, I’ve been talking about "unicorns" – startup companies valued by private investors for $1B and more. Engineering community got its own unicorn – Onshape. The interesting aspect of Onshape is a new business model – you can use Onshape for free if you agree to limit the number of projects to ten (as I’m writing this article, but the original number when Onshape just released their beta was five). Another important aspect of Onshape functionality is product data management. Onshape keeps the history of all updates and allows you to back to any point in a history of your CAD models. In my view, this is an example of how to combine a desired business functionality with free storage.

I can see a direct correlation between cost and new technologies. The scale and ability to grow elastically can be a game changer for CAD and PLM technologies to grow faster and cost less than before. Another place where we can see a significant growth these days is IoT and hardware development. The cost of hardware components is going down. The cost of prototyping using 3D printing and other online services is going down tool. The result – a growing number of hardware companies and manufacturing services. It will demand new type of software tools – cloud, agile and cost-effective.

What is my conclusion? Storage is an essential component in business. In my view, Onshape is just first example in a row of CAD / PLM companies building solutions on top of cloud platforms. Two PLM examples – Autodesk PLM360 and Arena solutions. Both products are only available as cloud SaaS services which allows to optimize it for cloud infrastructure. Free cloud storage can become disruptive platform to build cloud solutions that can grow and adapt elastically to the demand of users. It brings huge potential to develop new solutions we never seen before. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of arztsamui at

DFM Summit #12 – Cloud Manufacturing Panel

September 25, 2015


I had a chance to attend DFM Summit in Brooklyn, NY yesterday afternoon. More information and program can be found here. You can browse program and recording from previous summits. I hope video recording should be available later, so bookmark the link for your record.

The panel discussion called – Cloud Manufacturing. I was delighted to join and moderate the discussion together with Jeremy Herrman from Plethora, Carsten Hochmuth from aPriori and Jonathan Schwartz from Body Labs. You can see more details below.


One of my observation is related to the growing number of companies providing online services to help companies of all sizes and individuals to manufacture products. Think about globalization, connectivity and growing eco-system of manufacturing services. This is where company like Plethora is coming with a service available for engineers inside their CAD system to validate manufacturability and order a part. This is where aPriority cost management system can be helpful to validate cost online. And this is where 3D modeling services like Body Labs can help to create a realistic representation of humans that can be used by manufacturing to support variety of mass-customization scenarios highly demanded by customers today.

My presentation from the panel is here. Below, you can find few slides from my deck speaking about changes in manufacturing, growing trends of globalization, connectivity and cloud services. Together, it creates a potential future for something I call manufacturing network – an online eco-system of manufacturing companies, contractors, suppliers and individuals.



What is my conclusion? Small is a new big. Manufacturing is changing together with growing demand for mass customization and online services. What was possible only for large manufacturing companies 10-15 years ago becomes available for small manufacturing companies. The number of such companies is growing. Navigate to the following blog speaking about growing investment in hardware startups. And the demand for connected cloud manufacturing services will grow too. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Why customers are afraid to lose control of CAD and PLM software in cloud era?

September 8, 2015


Control is an interesting thing. It happens in life and business. Often, we think control guarantees us the life we want. We try to be in control because we want to to guarantee the outcomes. Obviously, the benefits to having control are very attractive. We think if we can achieve all our goals, create an idea environment and to be perfectly happy. Unfortunately, trying to create an ideal environment is more likely to create hell for everyone. Ironically, our efforts to be in control often cause us to be more out of control.

The need to control destroy people, relationships, businesses and even countries. So, what lies behind a "controlling behavior". Very often it comes from a fear and anxiety. At the core is a fear of not having all needs completely met. As a result, controllers are by a fear of failure, rejection, abandonment and disappointment. Controllers hate to be vulnerable, and therefore try to control all aspects of lives and business. They commonly assume that, “If I’m not in control, then someone else is,” – this is scary for controllers and they are trying to avoid it at any cost.

Control is one of the topics that often discussed in the context of relationships between CAD / PLM vendors and customers. Controlling CAD formats is just one example and it was a topic on the table for many years. In enterprise PLM, it was a topic of controlling database and data model. The most typical conflict is between customers’ demand for openness and competition between vendors.

Recent development of cloud technology created a new escalation of discussion about "control". Now it comes to the control of "software". For many years, customers were in a full control of software and licenses they acquired from vendors. It was true for desktop CAD packages as well as for enterprise software licenses. While desktop licenses were usually dedicated per computer, enterprise PLM licenses usually provided as a license to maintain a specific number of users in the organization. Cloud software is going to disrupt this status quo – CAD / PLM vendors are moving to sell subscriptions instead of perpetual licenses. It spurs lot of debates and discussions. In the past, I discussed business aspects of new subscription models.

My attention was caught by Cadalyst article – The Rising Resistance to Cloud-Based CAD. There are two parts in the article – Part 1 and Part 2. Robert Green brings an interesting perspective on CAD industry moving to the cloud (or how some of journalists call "server-based") form of software delivery and corresponding business models. The tagline of the article is following

CAD Manager Column: It’s in software vendors’ best interest to retain control of their customers’ CAD software and data — but what about the users that rely on that software? CAD managers share their perspectives, including concerns about security risks, control over data, and ongoing costs.

It represents the variety of arguments and comments about issues and problems related to the centralization of CAD software. Read an article and draw your own opinion.

There are two type of users here – CAD managers and actually engineers – CAD users. Although, their interests are the same, their perspective on the role of software vendor in delivery of software (and specifically cloud software) can be different. On the other side, there are software vendors. Cloud software and subscription business models are bringing changes to the world of vendors by forcing them to think more about every day user experience and services.

The article made me think about two things – (1) trust and (2) fear of change. One of the fundamental things in subscription business models is trust. In my view, it is something that helps customers to keep buying subscription and using services provided by vendors. You can apply it to any type of SaaS software and it will be the same. The second is "fear of change". This is why anxiety about the future CAD experience is coming from. The world was a good place until now – everyone knew their roles, behaviors and responsibilities. This is a fear about future disruption with unexpected behaviors and potential to lose control.

What is my conclusion? Cloud is here and it will disrupt industries and existing software business. The discussion about the change is very important. It is already happened in some domains – the time for CAD and PLM came. The change won’t be easier and won’t happen overnight. Some segments are more sensitive to the change. Regulated industries, defense contractors and large companies. But many segments are not and this is where change will start happen.It will also come from new people that are coming to CAD industry – the generation of people that formed their habits based on contemporary web software and tools developed for the last 10 years. Providing services is different from selling software. It will come down to responsibility of vendors and customer trust. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of mapichai at

Autodesk PLM360 and cloud PDM trajectories

September 3, 2015


I’m slowly digesting information from Accelerate 2015 – Autodesk PLM360 event that took place in Boston earlier this week. If you missed that, try to catch up by searching for #XLR8PLM on twitter. Although, most of sessions at the even were dedicated to customers and partners, the last keynote presented by Jared Sund, Autodesk Sr. Product Manager – Autodesk PLM360 Sneak Peek – provided a good portion of information about latest PLM360 development.

One of the topics that caught my special attention was cloud PDM. Those of you following my blog regularly won’t be surprised – cloud PDM is fascinating and important topic. Despite the fast development of cloud technologies, majority of cloud enterprise applications are running in a browser and have no or very little dependencies on files. Opposite to that, engineering environment is different and significant portion of design these days is still done by desktop CAD software.

You might recall My first take on Autodesk PLM360 system and technology. The original PLM360 incarnation excluded CAD data management. My first take to articulate the scope of PLM360 back in 2012 was: PLM360 = PLM + Cloud – CAD Data Management.

However, things are changing. Last year, at Accelerate 2014, we’ve seen a presentation and demo of how Autodesk is planning to solve a problem of managing CAD data in the cloud – Autodesk early preview of cloud (PDM) document management.

Cloud PDM vision and implementation becomes even more mature. In my view, it is an important element behind capabilities of Autodesk products to handle CAD data. It empowers ADSK Cloud by providing “first CAD data management (PDM) in the cloud“.




The following slides can give you an update about Autodesk CAD data management in the cloud, examples of Fusion360 PDM functions and CAD data management preview in A360 and PLM360.




What is my conclusion? CAD data represents one of the most important sources of information about products. Design systems are transforming engineering vision and ideas into reality. It is important to plug-in CAD and related design data into the overall product lifecycle. So, to have future cloud PDM environment tightly integrated with PLM360, Fusion360 and A360 is a very good news for users. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM 360 and three years of cloud PLM innovation

September 2, 2015

I’m attending Accelerate 2015 – Autodesk PLM 360 event in Boston this week. It was a good opportunity to compare it with my notes about PLM 360 I made three years ago when PLM360 (original name Nexus) was just introduced. I checked back my old blogs – Autodesk enters PLM: Everything changes… for Autodesk and My first take on Autodesk PLM 360 system and technology.

The following slides demonstrated the initial Autodesk PLM360 vision back into 2011 – step beyond engineering data management system into broad organizational system and technological disruption via cloud data, infinite computing and more.



Fast forward into 2015. The first and probably most important thing that happened for Autodesk PLM360 for the last three years – there are customers that speak about PLM360 experience now. Accelerate 2015 brings several key PLM360 customers and I had an opportunity to listen to what they said about PLM360 experience.


The vision of PLM to grow beyond engineering became more mature. I captured the following slide from the keynote presentation made by Scott Reese, VP of cloud platform.

plm360 innovation platform

Autodesk PLM vision was presented in a form of Product Innovation Platform (PIP) taking cyclic perspective on product development. The traditional linear PLM perspective from concept to operation was replaced with the cycle between concepts and connected services. It reflected a broader vision on Future of Making Things (#FOMT) created by Autodesk during the last few years.

Autodesk continued the line of technological disruption started back in 2011 with cloud technologies. The latest acquisition of SeeControl brings the technology to help developing IoT cloud services and to create virtual product experience. An example from the keynote presentation – predictive maintenance product services.


What is my conclusion? Autodesk PLM vision is getting more mature. It moved from a concept of leveraging cloud technologies to help manufacturing companies into the realization of PLM platform to innovate and to help manufacturing companies to develop new products and services. Back in 2011, Autodesk took a risk to bring PLM based using cloud technologies. From that standpoint, I can see Autodesk mission accomplished. PLM industry is embracing cloud these days. All PLM vendors are brining some sort of cloud technologies, products and vision. Few weeks ago, I made my first attempt to compare PLM cloud services provided by different vendors. Unfortunately, “cloud” became a buzzword. To ask “why do we need cloud?” is a wrong question to ask. Cloud is here to stay. But devil is in the details. It will take another round of innovation to differentiate cloud PLM products and technologies developed by established PLM vendors and newcomers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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