u p F r o n t . e Z i n e
the business of cad
Issue #698 | July 5, 2011
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In This Issue
1. Dassault Moves 3D Authoring and PLM to the Cloud
2. Where is the Anti-Trust in CAD?
- Readers React
3. Out of the Inbox and other regular columns
Dassault Moves 3D Authoring and PLM to the Cloud
Dassault Systemes' V6 line of software has been running online for a while now, but last week the company extended that service to Amazon's famous Web Services -- the cloud.
In a telephone interview with upFront.eZine, Fabien Fedida, senior director of global marketing at Dassault Systemes, explained that this is one PLM platform; indeed, the V6 software offered on cloud is the same as on premises. Customers can go between the two easily.
For example, a designer working at home can access the 3D design and all PLM data on the cloud with a Web connection, and can refine a 3D design by streaming up and down only what is necessary to the design. This means that: (a) Down: designer gets only what is necessary, when necessary, through streaming, and (b) Up: an incremental streaming save function. (This was already possible with V6 Online, but was not hosted on the cloud by Amazon, nor was it packaged for a one-stop approach, as it is now.)
Mr Fedida said he wanted to emphasize three aspects:
1. His company's cloud approach is about helping customers make products, not just manage the data. "For example, we provide our best in class product development solutions -- CATIA, DELMIA, SIMULIA and ENOVIA -- in an on demand, easy to use, secure environment."
2. Dassault's one-stop approach provides the whole solution at its 3DStore, including the cloud provisioning. "Often enterprise software companies will make you go through two tedious steps: (1) buy the software (in this case, the collaborative platform), and then (2) make you go through a second step with a hosting provider to get it hosted. Here we have it all, one-click, and in one place."
3. The 3DStore resides within a community to transform discussion into action.
This approach is different from other major CAD vendors. For instance, I notice that Autodesk is sticking a cautious finger in the cloud, saying it's best for CPU-heavy apps, like FEA and rendering. PTC and Siemens PLM don't seem to have announced any cloud plans at all, sticking with the "safety" of Microsoft's SharePoint. In contrast, Dassault now allows editing and full PLM on the cloud.
upFront.eZine: How would I get started with designing and doing product development on the cloud?
Fabien Fedida: First step is to go to 3DStore at https://swym.3ds.com. Second step is to register, and then choose the services you want. Within minutes of purchasing the service, it is live and ready to go. (This assumes you have a V6 client already installed; if not, you can get it from your VAR.)
For just $330/month/seat for the n!Volve subscription service, you get access to the collaboration platform that lets you work concurrently – not just collaborate -- using CATIA, SIMULIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, and 3DSWYM.
The n!Fuze subscription service offers cloud-based design sharing and collaboration with the V6 platform, tailored to SolidWorks users. And 3DSwYm allow companies or individuals to instantly create their own on the cloud environment for social innovation.
Then you can add modules to the collaboration platform. The next steps up are:
upFront.eZine: How do I get others involved on the same project?
Mr Fedida: Dassault has a community-content-service framework at the swym.3ds.com site. (SWYM is short for "see what you mean.") As a community site, swym.3ds.com lets you build your own social network of collaborators, to share content, and can be used for crowd sourcing and feedback. You can publish the actual CAD model, or else the model's "experience," which is a 3DVIA immersive experience of the design.
Participants can turn a discussion into action by assembling a project team from their social network, and then procure the online services from the online store. Once you have willing collaborators, you make them part of your project using V6 on the cloud, and then carry out a full product development project with Web connections -- working concurrently, on the cloud, and across multiple locations.
upFront.eZine: V6 already runs online. How does that differ from last week's announcement that it now also runs on Amazon's Web Service?
Mr Fedida: V6 has been online from the start, in which customers access a server powering their CATIA in another location with a web connection. Now we are bringing it on the cloud, with Amazon's WS, and the packaging is completely new, because now we are offering it for $330 a month, including the cloud provisioning.
V6 is an online solution:
This means you can now work concurrently across multiple locations using a Web connection on the cloud. Let me give an example: Two designers collaborate on a design, without exchanging the product structure by file. The project manager can limit clients to seeing only the parts they are authorized to see.
"Authoring" is the revolution in this -- very different from WebEx!
upFront.eZine: What is your SLA guarantee? [SLA = service level agreement guarantees the minimum uptime for the cloud service.]
Mr Fedida: Our SLA guarantee leverages Amazon's IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) available 24x7. Also, last week Dassault Systemes invested in Outscale, on whom we will rely to manage our SaaS [software as a service] operation 24x7 globally. [The company leverages dynamic public cloud resources allocation to provide the best availability of online applications, globally.]
upFront.eZine: Finally, there is the tricky position of the VAR [value-added reseller] or dealer. When the customer can get everything from the vendor's store, does the VAR still have a role to contribute?
Mr Fedida: For the services procured online, we expect that the customer be helped by a VAR, and so the VAR is being compensated for customer engagement as part of the 3DStore business model. For instance, if you don't have the V6 clients, you get them from the VAR, and so the VAR is compensated. Also, when the customer actually buys an online service on the 3DStore, the customer specifies the name of the VAR who helped him out. When a customer does not specify a VAR when buying services online, we plan to assign a VAR so that the customer has human contact to DS.
In part ii, I ask Fabien Fedida about the 2012 release of V6.
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Where is the Anti-Trust in CAD?
"The real problem isn't the purchase sticker prices, which are modest by comparison with the real costs. It's the lock-in to proprietary data formats, and the criminal so-called 'maintenance' contracts to gain access to bug fixes and support. Some also go in for concealing necessary documentation so as to force you into frighteningly-expensive training.
"Something else that occurs to me: cutting off independent contractors from purchasing training or even the software itself -- the latter of which I can in no way believe is legal."
- 'Bentley user' (name withheld by request)
"I've been selling Autodesk software since 1987. At the time, AutoCAD was $3,000, and rose to $4,000 over the next 10 years, where it has remained. I'm also pretty sure that MicroStation and Solidworks have been in a similar ballpark for the last 15-20 years.
"If you look at Autodesk's new crop of Design Suites, I think you'll see exactly the same pattern you discussed with Microsoft office. For example, Revit Architecture lists at $5,495. For not much more than that ($6,495), you now get AutoCAD, Architecture, MEP, Structural Detailing, Showcase, SketchBook Designer, Revit Architecture, Revit MEP, Revit Structure, and 3ds Max Design.
"Regarding exclusive dealerships, I can only say that the software has gotten much more powerful, and effective implementation has gotten more complex, due to the range of activities and collaboration involved in both BIM and digital prototyping applications. This translates into higher requirements (and greater costs) for dealer technical personnel.
"Twenty years ago, we employed draftsmen for training and tech support. Now it's engineers, architects and designers. My experience with other resellers who represented more than one product line is that they always had a favorite, and channeled customers into the one they preferred. You don't go into a car dealership and expect someone to show you both Fords and Chevies. Why would you expect this from a CAD reseller?
"Bottom line is that I don't believe there is an anti-trust problem or that your solution would result in lower product costs -- just poorer customer service, and a lack of transparency."
- Len Horowitz, senior account executive
The editor replies: "For automobiles, there are all-make leasing companies, and second-hand lots."
"Perhaps the EU is looking at this particular topic not due to the price fixing of the software but to to the fact that over in Britain we have to pay the same price in pounds as you in America pay in dollars. I cannot remember the last time the exchange rate was 1 dollar for 1 pound. So perhaps we are getting ripped off over here on the price of software."
- Peter Fagan
The editor replies: "Some of the higher price in Europe is due to the VAT being included, while prices in Canada and USA do not. Nevertheless, the higher pricing is wrong, and making it illegal to gray-market computer products is wronger."
"You wrote that your opinion is that the problem is not pricing, it's 'exclusive dealerships, in which a CAD dealer can only sell software from one CAD vendor.' I don't get how that could be the problem, because CAD-using organizations are not required to deal with only one dealer. If I were considering adding CAD seats to my organization, and a certain dealer only sells one CAD platform, I would just go on the Internet and find dealers that sell the others. Then I'd compare benefits, services, and pricing and make my choice.
"In short, the fact that I would have to check with two or three dealers would not stop me from comparing prices. So I don't get how putting a ban on exclusive dealership contracts would result in reduced prices. What am I missing here? By the way, my company is not a reseller (dealer) of any CAD platform vendor. For the sake of full disclosure, I will note that I'm generally opposed to increased government intervention (regulation) into private business.
- Ed Clark, president
The editor replies: "A friend wanted to get software for architectural design, but found it hard getting information on all programs available. An Autodesk dealer pushed Revit so hard on him that he ended up not buying it."
"Good points in your CAD monopoly article. Please allow me offer a few comments. Back in the 90s, Robert McNeel and Associates was THE BEST dealer in the nation (at least IMHO). They had the best service and tech support. They covered all the bases, and had (and still do) the most talented group I've ever seen.
"When Autodesk began 'protecting' their dealers in the late 90s, they hacked the legs off of McNeel. That meant I no longer had access to them as my dealer (I'm in Florida and McNeel's in Washington state). However, I WANTED MCNEEL AS MY SUPPORT CONTRACT. BUT, Autodesk FORBIT IT.
"What do you call it when you want to do business with someone, seek them out, and attempt to establish a relationship w/the, but an interested party indirectly connected to both of you FORBIDS and PREVENTS it? New Yorkers call it the MAFIA. In any case, due to good management and high-quality professionals at McNeel, they survived and prospered.
"Unfortunately, their CUSTOMERS (like me) didn't. From that day onward, I learned to NOT PAY FOR ANYTHING that Autodesk offers outside of their software.
"I find it intriguing that the EU is policing the corporations like this, esp. in light of how they're in the process of DECIMATING European national sovereignty in other pursuits. The only conclusion I can surmise from all this is EU's MOTIVE for policing the CAD market is to GAIN CONTROL OVER IT (like they do the nations w/in their reach). Time will tell.
"SO, I'm intrigued to see that the EU is showing the US bureaucrats that the US market's monopoly pricing isn't as unnoticeable as they may think (even though we commoners are powerless to do anything about it)."
- Dick Morley
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Out of the Inbox
Dassault Systemes opens an online store at http://swym.3ds.com/#3DStore with an initial selection consisting of:
- n!fuze for SolidWorks
- n!volve for CATIA V6
You have to create an account before doing any window shopping, unfortunately. (Don't search Google for '3DS store,' since that returns the Nintendo 3DS store.)
the war between the two think3 bankruptcy administrators continues, in which the italian think3.com url now points to a new american https://www.think3info.com web site. an interview at deelip.com indicates that both adminstrators are primarily concerned with maxinimzing return to creditors -- the implication being that users are insignificant at this point. the american think3 hopes to sell software in china. http://www.deelip.com/?p=6294
Cadsoft releases Envisioneer v7, software for residential and light commercial construction design. This releases improves features in BIM design, construction documentation, quantity takeoffs, and collaboration. Full list of new features at http://www.cadsoft.com/v7.php and 30-day trial version at http://www.cadsoft.com/envisioneer.php
Autodesk had a list of announcements in the last week. Can't think what the special occasion was, other than maybe their investors conference. Some of the news included the following:
- An API for AutoCAD WS now allows third-party developers to directly access to some of its inner functions. See http://www.autocadws.com/blog/announcing-autocad-ws-apis
- An Android viewer for 3D models generated by Inventor Publisher is now available no-charge from https://market.android.com/details?id=com.autodesk.Fysc
- Autodesk Vault now works with Microsoft's SharePoint 2010 "to provide access to design information across the enterprise." I asked if this works with AutoCAD Mac, but didn't get an answer. http://www.autodesk.com/vault
- Autodesk floats 3D CAD River-Analysis extension for free <http://enr.construction.com/technology/information_technology/2011/0704-3dcadriveranalysisextensionsoftwarefloatedasfreetrialonautodesklabs.asp>
- And the company finally announced what we already knew from Bentley's outraged press release from several weeks ago: "California Department of Transportation Selects Autodesk for Road and Highway Design Projects."
Stratasys confirms that, yup, it continues to be #1: "Stratasys Leads Additive Manufacturing Industry for Ninth Consecutive Year," shipping 2,555 3d printing systems -- some 41% of the market. They credit Wohlers Report 2011. This shows we're still not in the "a 3D printer in every child's bedroom stage." http://www.Stratasys.com
You can begin downloading the 140MB open-source Aras Innovator PLM software right about... now! http://www.aras.com/downloads . The new release has CAD connectors for CATIA, NX, Creo & Pro/ENGINEER, SolidWorks, Solid Edge, Inventor, AutoCAD, Allegro, OrCAD, DxDesigner / DxDatabook, PADS, Expedition, Altium, Zuken CR-5000, and more.
They talked about it a few months ago, and last week Spatial began shipping Convergence Geometric Modeler and 3D InterOp CGM R2012 -- its first new 3D geometry kernel in a decade, and the same one used by Dassault Systemes in V5 and V6. http://www.spatial.com/products/cgm
Open Design Alliance updates Teigha to v3.5 with a new raster module based on the FreeImage raster library. More interesting to me is the new beta program that ports the Teigha DWG API to Android devices; right now it's limited to database operations, with display functions to come. ODA members only can download the goods from http://www.opendesign.com.
Matrox, the Canadian maker of graphics boards, celebrates its 35th anniversary. It was founded by Branko Matic (the "ma" in Matrox) and Lorne Trottier (the "tro"), with the first product being Video RAM, a video display for first-generation microcomputers. It now consists of three division, Matrox Graphics, Matrox Imaging, and Matrox Video. http://www.matrox.com
And CIMdata reports that the NC [numerically controlled] software market grew by 7.6% in 2010. Turns out CIMdata now has a second office in Weert, Netherlands. http://www.CIMdata.com
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These were the news item that was posted during the last week at our WorldCAD Access blog <worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:
- My life with an $80 Android tablet
- TIP: Getting the full list of + commands in AutoCAD 2012
- After Voyager exited the solar system, Solid Edge goes about reviving its partner program, by Roopinder Tara
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Spin Doctor of the Moment
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Entire contents copyright 2011 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $250 and up. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "WorldCAD Access" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.