Issue #456 : : January 10, 2006
C o n t e n t s
Outsourcing: The Wind in Our
Does! Does Not!
the Radar, and other
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Credit Roopinder Tara of Tenlinks.com for passing along the cartoon of Father explaining outsourcing to his son: "Importunely, we have decided that raising a child overseas would be a lot cheaper." [Importune = insistent request].
Numerous months ago, I reported on PTC and think3's love-in with outsourcing. At the time, PTC encouraged American firms to replace their "100K/year Chicago-based" designers with "20K/year India-based" designers. No kidding. think3 took the advice, outsourced all of its programming staff to India, and closed all its USA offices but the head office. Other CAD vendors have mimicked the two in various ways.
They do outsourcing for different but related reasons:
In the 14 months since, "outsourcing" has become a bad word, so now we hear interchangeable variations such as "global operations," "worldwide partnering," and my favorite: "we are responding to customers who are forced to internationalize their operations." Maybe, maybe not.
Before his untimely death last year, MCAD reviewer Joe Greco asked me, "You said 'All an American software company needs in the United States is a ceo and local resellers,' but you didn't really comment on how you felt about that. Any thoughts that you would like to share?" <cf: www.upfrontezine.com/2004/upf-404.htm >
I replied, "I was shocked at PTC's comments, which is why I emphasized them. I see outsourcing as a race to the bottom; it is unlike trade, where we get items from other regions that we cannot produce locally."
Mr Greco responded, "I totally agree with you -- and I think a stand needs to be taken. [In a series of articles] I wrote for 'Cadalyst' back in May and June , I didn't slam any specific MCAD software company, but came out against it. I also talked about the unseen costs of outscourcing and how manufacturing companies can stay competitive without it."
Drawbacks to Outsourcing
Industry itself now begins to see drawbacks to outsourcing, such as security issues. "Over the past six months, companies... have experienced the loss of customer information or have reported intrusions into their data banks [at outsourced locations]," notes cio-today.com <news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20051221/bs_nf/40241>. Last week, terrorists attacked a technical conference in India.
In the CAD world, SolidWorks nearly lost a copy of its source code in India; in Russia, Alibre had its software for sale under another name. Both cases were the action of an employee of an outsourcing firm.
Then there is the problem of low-cost centers becoming expensive. Overseas wages and exchange rates increase as demand grows and as living standards increase. That's a good thing, but then outsourcing moves to the next cheaper location; eventually they will run out of cheap-enough locations.
The next solution: turn to programmers who do it for free. Call it "leaching," where software companies, like Google, further cut their costs by freeloading off the free software and open source communities.
Who benefits from the lowered cost of production? Not the customer, for the price of software stays fixed or increases as new features are added. (I acknowledge that some free software is provided by commercial companies, but its purpose is to hook and retain customers.) Instead, the profits go to the shareholders of public companies and owners of private ones. Not infrequently, some of the largest shareholders are the executives of software firms -- those making the decision to outsource and freeload.
Something to think about in 2006.
Shart at 8:00 a.m. on the first business day of this new year, SolidWorks shipped a press release proclaiming that an Autodesk customer was now using SolidWorks: "Leatherman Tool Group switches to SolidWorks software for 3D design of multipurpose tools and knives."
Scanning carefully the body of the SolidWorks press release, we read a quote from Melissa Yale, Leatherman senior product design engineer: "We switched from Autodesk Inventor software for new designs... ." Translation: SolidWorks is being added to handle new designs; Inventor would still be needed for existing design files and perhaps other tasks.
A switch to SolidWorks would be painful for Autodesk, who had given out Leatherman tools as gifts to the media a year earlier. SolidWorks fans were still chortling with delight when, thirty-five hours later, Tim O'Keeffe of Fleishman (an external PR firm working for Autodesk) emailed a hurried media alert: "Leatherman Tool Group Continues to use Autodesk Inventor."
Mr O'Keeffe's email noted that "A press release on January 3, stated that Leatherman had standardized on software from a competitor." (The competitor is never mentioned by name.) He quotes John Carroll, Leatherman's man for desktop software: "Leatherman uses a variety of CAD and CAM software in the production of its tools. Leatherman continues to rely on Autodesk Inventor in many areas of our company..."
Autodesk and SolidWorks Bicker
I pointed out the non-exclusive tone of the SolidWorks press release to Mr O'Keefe, who responded, "The original release was flagged by John Carroll from Leatherman. He notified the folks at Autodesk that he had requested a retraction of the release and that Leatherman had not 'standardized' on SolidWorks (first sentence, opening paragraph)."
I asked SolidWorks when I could expect a revised press release. Laura Kozikowski responded: "We will not be sending out a revised release, but have made changes to the version on our Web site."
Contradicting Mr O'Keefe, Ms Kozikowski continued: "Leatherman did not request a retraction of the release, but they did ask that we make some modifications to the text to include the words 'design department'." The headline of the press release now reads "Leatherman Tool Group design department switches to SolidWorks software..."
She added, "It was not our intent to highlight the switch from Inventor to SolidWorks in the press release, but the customer felt so strongly about it that we felt it was necessary to include the information." Ouch!
Makes me wonder about the atmosphere when Melissa Yale and John Carroll pass each other in the hallway at Leatherman Tool Group. In the meantime, be reassured, Inventor and SolidWorks faniacs, that Leatherman uses both CAD packages.
A summary of CAD industry news you may not have read elsewhere, or that I found interesting:
CoCreate offers a nearly-free 3D upgrade for their 2D
customers; you pay the US$1,390/year maintenance (subscription)
fee. Offer ends Feb 28 or when 1,000 licenses have been upgraded
-- whichever is first. www.cocreate.com
Autograph Technical Services has a pocket-size version of its plastic reference card. CadCARD Jr. is the AutoCAD reference tool and training aid the size of a credit card. www.cadcard.com/news.htm
Evolve Consultancy has its UK Architectural, Engineering & Construction CAD Manager's Survey 2006 online at www.eatyourcad.com/article.php?incat_id=650 . Results will be published on the www.EatyourCAD.com Web site in March. www.evolve-consultancy.com
ProgeSOFT releases ProgeCAD 2006 Professional v6.1.6 based on the IntelliCAD 6.1 CAD Engine. Some 20 improvements in the areas of TrueType font compatibility, lineweights, display speed, undo, hide and shade from CTB, and printing. www.progesoft.us
Federation Software announces its Value Chain Connector for PTC's Windchill ProjectLink. What the heck's a "value chain connector"? Sounds to me like a sidewalk between Wal-Mart and K-Mart. Oh, here it is: a VCC connects "disparate Product Lifecycle Management systems... bi-directionally to the Windchill ProjectLink system." Okay, but I doubt VCC will become an IST (industry standard TLA [three letter acronym]). www.federationsoftware.com
ALGOR of USA says its new FEMPRO has been designed to compete with Femap of UGS <www.femap.co.uk> in the arenas of pre- and post-processing for NASTRAN-compatible and other finite element analysis software. www.ALGOR.com
CD-adapco's new STAR-Works product is an upfront flow and thermal solver embedded in SolidWorks. [Are they allowed to say "upFront"?] I wish manufacturers of external hard drive would use it. www.cd-adapco.com
Nemetschek North America updates their free VectorWorks 12 Viewer. Get yers from www.nemetschek.net/downloads/fundamentals
Lambda Research Corporation develops optical software. TracePro Bridge allows you to include optical components, light sources, detectors, sensors, and optical effects in SolidWorks. The completed models are exported to TracePro for optical ray tracing and analysis. www.lambdares.com
CADopia is making CADDetails.com symbols available to CADopia users via its Web site. www.cadopia.com
And General CADD Pro v4.1.04 has been released. Download a demo from www.generalcadd.com/downloads.htm
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These news items were posted during the Christmas break at the WorldCAD Access blog <worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:
Seminars & Conferences
SolidWorks World 2006 is Jan 22-25 in Las Vegas NV USA. I'll be there Jan 23-25. www.solidworks.com/pages/swworld/index.html
2006 Annual PLM World Conference is May 8-12 in Long Beach CA USA. event.plmworld.org
3rd International Conference on Cybernetics and Information Technologies, Systems and Applications is July 20-23 in Orlando FL USA. www.info-cybernetics.org/citsa2006
People/Companies on the Move
ProfiDB of Germany changes its name to keytech software GmbH. www.keytech.de
Algor is expanding their O'Hara Township headquarters by 50%.
Autodesk acquires FMDesktop facilities management software from Applied Spatial Technologies of New Hampshire USA. This wasn't in a press release but in a Medai Advisory. Go figure. aecnews.com/news/2006/01/05/1342.aspx
Spin Doctor of the Moment
"Mother Nature was mad at the world [in 2005]."
"Truth is, after all, a binary function."
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