u p F r o n t . e Z i n e
"the cloud is dead." really? i mean, really??
Issue #711 | November 8, 2011
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In This Issue
1. PTC, the WindChill Company, Talks About Growing CAD
2. The Cloud is Dead?
Part 3: Even More Responses from Readers
- In the Twitterverse
- Elsewhere On the Interweb
3. Updated eBook: Learn Bricscad V12 in a Day
4. Out of the Inbox and our other regular columns
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PTC, the WindChill Company, Talks About Growing CAD
During Parametric Technology Corp's Q4 2011 earnings call, its CEO responded to questions from financial analysts of the company's CAD business. Here are excerpts of the question-and-answer session, which were edited for clarity:
Richard H. Davis (Canaccord Genuity, Research Division): Mid- and high-end CAD hasn't been a growth business [for PTC] for about a decade, so what was needed was a kind of integration of 2D history-free CAD and Pro/E -- and then rebranding the product. Did that create a tipping point?
Or are we seeing pent-up demand from underserved accounts that, frankly, were maybe used to other vendors who weren't investing as much as they should. If so, what's the evidence that the burst of growth will last more than a few quarters? Because I think that's a question that people, including myself, are trying to noodle over.
James E. Heppelmann (ceo, PTC): It's really kind of a balanced combination of those two factors. There was a situation, if you go back to 2008, 2009, where our customers were questioning our commitment to the CAD business. And maybe some of them were not making investments with PTC, because they weren't sure if PTC would be their vendor five and ten years down the road.
So I think that, plus the bad economy of 2009, caused a certain amount of pent-up demand. And in 2010 and now especially in 2011, the economy has been much stronger in the CAD sector. It's just fun to go to customer meetings right now and talk about CAD, because they are blown away by Creo.
People who maybe question whether or not this company was going to be in the CAD business longterm are back to questioning whether we're going to regain leadership of the CAD business in the long term. So, I think they [customers] are going back to buying things that they maybe had tabled for a while.
And then we bring in the second factor, which is we have so much new stuff to sell. And keep in mind we have a massive customer base here. So, we have a lot of new modules and new capabilities to hold direct modeling, flexible modeling type stuff you mentioned. And we have 27,000 companies to go sell that to. And if we sell each one of those 27,000, even a little bit of this new stuff, it produces very big numbers. The Creo real factor is just getting started, and that will carry on for a number of years now.
Steven R. Koenig (Longbow Research): Can you give us any commentary on the uptake of Creo, particularly Creo/Direct? Is there a potential that this history-free modeling could see a big adoption wave over the coming years? Or are we more likely looking at something that's going to be a niche, or at least, say, a complementary method to parametric [modeling]?
Mr Heppelmann: Personally, I'd say the latter. I don't think the standalone history-free modeling is going to take over the world. In fact, the opposite has happened in the last fifteen years: parametric modeling is taking over the world.
But I think that the combination of the two really makes a good powerful combination. Either one by itself leaves half the people frustrated, because parametric modeling, if you're a power user, it is much better. On the other hand, if you're a casual user, direct modeling is better. In any given company, half the people are power users and half are casual users, so what you really want is a system that can meet both needs in a fully compatible way.
That's kind of the promise of Creo. And so I think that there are a few [vendors] out there with standalone direct modelers, but I just don't see them taking over the world, because they leave the power users very frustrated.
Jay Vleeschhouwer (Griffin Securities, Inc., Research Division): What are your thoughts about your opportunities particularly at the automotive OEM level? There would seem to be some ferment in terms of what's going on with the larger car companies and what they're thinking about in terms of PLM infrastructure. So, what are your thoughts in terms of being able to win additional business there, particularly in competition with Siemens?
Mr Heppelmann: I do think you correctly identified that there's a wave of change threatening to happen in the automotive industry. And I think that PTC and Siemens stand to gain some share. Siemens, as you know, is in a strong position.
With the wins at Volvo Truck and then especially the wins at Hyundai, we've certainly improved our standing in the community. People are saying it would have been easy for Hyundai-- it would have been a noncontroversial position to switch from Dassault to Siemens, but instead they switched to PTC.
Why is that? The Hyundai guys view themselves as leading the next wave, not following the last one. And if others see things the way Hyundai does, then we stand to pick up a lot of market share in automotive. I don't want to predict that yet; I'm certainly optimistic, but I'm really excited about the fact that I think there's going to be a lot of change going on.
In the past with no change, there was no opportunity; with change, there's great opportunity. It's just a question of how much can we capture.
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The Cloud is Dead?
Part 3: Even More Responses from Readers
"As if you haven't received enough comments on the Cloud already-- The 'Cloud is Dead' is both true and false. For the most part it's another endless debate of semantics between those with a specific narrow definition of what 'the cloud' means to them.
"The Cloud is extremely beneficial to much of my work. At the same time, I don't store my drawings on the internet or run CAD from the internet.
"As with most things in life, humor can put things into perspective. I'm reminded of a cartoon where an IT staffer shows a manager the company's new Private Cloud in a server room, to which the manager replied, 'That's it? Just a bunch of computers?'
"If you really want to understand if the cloud has potential, just substitute those words 'a bunch of computers' in its place."
- Darren J Young, systems integration manager
"Sorry, I forgot to send you a link to 'Clouds: more dead or alive?'', a combined translation [into Russian] of your Oleg's posts at http://isicad.ru/ru/articles.php?article_num=14769 published on Sunday."
- David Levin
LEDAS and isicad
The editor replies: "Here is the Google translation into English of Mr Levin's introduction:
With the release of its electronic journal upFront.eZine October 25, Ralph Grabowski has posted a note "The Cloud is Dead," which questioned the prospect of mass of the cloud of CAD. Question, in our view, rightly so. Three days later, another well-known expert, Oleg Shilovitsky in his blog Beyond PLM disagreed with the arguments of Ralph, published a post "Cloud, Head's-down CAD Drafters and Technological Analogies.". And dissent is also quite reasonable. We felt that our Russian speaking readers would be interested in this debate and give the following translation of the two notes.
"You've been at this CAD thing a long time; use more of that long term perspective you have. Think past that time you and I have retired. I think of my two kids in college. My younger son (in engineering school) believes having valuable data (like a mid-term paper) on his PC is an accident waiting to happen. Why would any sane person want to do that?
"The naysayers on the cloud could be the same naysayers we saw with the PC, just 'find and replace' a few words and the reasoning is identical (control, trust, capability, performance, productivity, etc). 'Sure PC's are good for word processing and spreadsheets -– but not CAD. They are just toys.'
"Other: CAD on the PC developed in the drafting community first, and then migrated to designers and engineers.
"CAD on the Cloud? I believe it develops in the engineering community first, people who use a wide variety of design tools and use many of them just a few hours per week or month (not 'production' drafting and modeling). Accessibility and ease of learning come first (same reason CAD on the PC succeeded).
"The cost-based naysayers. What makes them think the cost is going to go up? Revolutions require dramatic change in price performance and that is exactly what the Cloud can and will deliver (over the long term). The engineer paying $5000 up front and $1000/year maintenance for a copy of software they use a few hours per week per month is a non-starter. That becomes $50-$100/month in a Cloud world (about the cost of that morning Late or the budget mobile phone service). Sounds great as a user, and great for a large CAD company (say $1000/user and 10 million users). Then there are the 'Unique to the Cloud' benefits of increased productivity through mobility, collaboration and for all practical purposes unlimited computing power.
"Everyone needs to think past today, this year and even the next five years. As you and I know, being of the mature sort with children, five years is the blink of an eye and ten years goes so very fast. The impact of big changes are almost always over sold in the short term (applied to existing problems and processes) and under sold in the long term (it's hard to envision what the new problems and processes will be in a world we haven't yet experienced).
"Sixteen years ago I bought my first copy of Netscape. The web was oh so slow through dial-up and though thoughtless people with graphics heavy web pages. Back then one could see the web as a marketing, sales and education tool. But no one was predicting Google and Facebook. What will the Cloud enable in a similar period of time?
"No idea! But companies that waited till the PC and Web future was clear are themselves mostly in the dustbin of history. Ken Olsen died earlier this year, the PC having 'done in' his minicomputer. One might say Compaq was done in by the Web enabled Dell. What software companies will and will not survive the Cloud? One of the biggest software franchises in history, Microsoft Office, may be one of the first victims of a too slow migration to the Cloud.
"Last: Who out there would recommend their children invest most of their time becoming masters of the PC as a great career development investment? How about becoming masters of the web and the Cloud as a good forward looking career development investment?
"Five years ago when folks like salesforce.com and NetSuite were breaking new ground offering CRM and ERP software as a service, one might have had some doubts. But not anymore. The train has left the station – and folks that missed getting on board better start running hard to catch up (or retire)."
- Jim Quanci, director
Autodesk Developer Network
The editor replies: "One of the many things I've learned after 25 years is that in business, 'past performance is no guarantee of future returns'."
"I'm not sure if people are just distracted, illiterate, or numb. I bet on the first, combined with the last one. Usually, people tend to stick to what they believe to be the state of the art of things, or tend literally to keep the 'status quo' without questioning them. Anything that's different and does not fit any rational pattern, or not supported by existing neuronal network usually is not detected.
"Why can't people see in the CMS IntelliCAD CAD on Cloud ads (that you are publishing) the 'Experience no files upload'? BTW, CMS IntelliCAD on Cloud is also free to use."
- CMS, Inc.
"Len Rafuse wrote in #710, '...while pen and paper may get soggy in a downpour while you are recording information up on a roof...'. We piping designers use plastic leads on mylar sheets when out in the field if it's raining/snowing. Works like a charm."
- Paul Bowers
"The cloud is not dead. They just need to put the integrative applications into it they have been holding back from AutoCAD.
"I do a few hundred drawings a year. I have no comprehensive index of what I have worked on. I keep a list of job in Microsoft Access. So that I can find past work, I use the Windows folder system and try to smart-name my jobs and drawing folders. Others use Excel lists.
"I make drawings of parts, but AutoCAD doesn't know what a part is, so I keep parts in some non-CAD-aware database. Every now and then somebody here gets excited about making a block library or a library of standard drawings. We have a bunch of those in various states of obsolescence.
"AutoCAD is a single file editor: it edits one file at a time and it doesn't keep a comprehensive log. For years, the new features in AutoCAD, the AutoCAD wish lists, have all been confined to this virtual world of a single drawing. No drawing-to-drawing functions whatsoever.
"If someone uses the cloud to create an AutoCAD manager, something that Autodesk really could have put on the desktop, then it will look like the cloud is something new -- not just a software meter."
- Terry Priest
The editor replies: "Thanks for writing about your experiences."
Mr Priest responds: "Its always dangerous to do, because some salesman somewhere will roll his eyes, and offer to sell something to fix it."
In the Twitterverse
ralphg (Ralph Grabowski): "Another cloud issue: bottlenecking, when too many CAD users at one firm upload FEA files too frequently for online analysis."
JohnEvansDesign (John Evans): "I think we're all worried about that and related transmission issues, where both consumer and provider are relying on others' svc [services]."
SteveJohnsonCAD (Steve Johnson): "There's a whole 'show me the backhaul' issue I haven't addressed yet. A small trial isn't the whole CAD world trying to work at once."
owenwengerd (Owen Wengerd): "Ummmm, well, has anyone mentioned the implications of data that never dies?"
owenwengerd: "None of the CAD-on-the-cloud bloggers has mentioned this critically important fact: once data is on the cloud, it can never be deleted."
bauskas (Alex Bausk): "Guys, guys. I did a highly biased Project Storm review http://bausk.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/project-storm-dry-storm/"
Elsewhere On the Interweb
Scott Sheppard (It's Alive in the Lab): "The misinformed believe the cloud is dead, but would you like the option of offloading this processing to the cloud?"
cadalot (REVIT Structure Learning Curve): "My view [about CAD on the cloud] -- I will wait and see, so far I'm underwhelmed at Labs I've tried."
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Updated eBook: Learn Bricscad V12 in a Day
If you use Bricscad, then you might be interested to know that I've updated Learn Bricscad in a Day for V12. This edition has several new features:
The 266-page ebook is in PDF format. You can get more info at the book's Web page, http://www.upfrontezine.com/lb8, where you can purchase it through PayPal. The Web page handles all editions of the ebook, from V8 through V12. To pay by cheque, money order, or cash, send $20 to:
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Out of the Inbox
Actify updates its publishing platform, Centro v4.1, with the ability to search 3D shapes, in addition to text. http://www.actify.com
erik de keyser, Bricsys commenting on WorldCAD Access: "we plan to have Bricscad V12 Platinum for the Mac in Q1 2012. It's is a direct modeler with 3D constraint solving and Design intent capabilities. And yes, it is 100% .dwg compatible."
MecSoft Corporation announces that its VisualMILL software is certified to run inside SolidWorks versions 2008 thru 2012. http://www.mecsoft.com
Luxion releases no-charge KeyShot plugin for PTC's Creo at http://www.keyshot.com/downloads/plugins.html
Autodesk introduced more free software last week to the generic media. One is 123D Catch (Windows only) creates digital 3D models from a series of photographs, and the other 123D Make (Mac only) prepares the digital models for cutting by lasers. [I haven't found the Web pages for either product.]
NCG CAM v11 is released with true surface machining option, new analysis functions, and more. Demo version can be requested from http://www.ncgcam.com/demorequest.html
I'm fine with my three-monitor setup, but what if you need to see eight monitors and still keep your desk free? Shuttle makes mini PCs, and their latest tiny desktop computer with the huge name (Shuttle XPC H7 5820S mini PC) handles up to eight DisplayPort or single-link DVI monitors at 2560x1600 per display. On the inside, the mini PC has the M-Series PCI Express (PCIe) x16 boards from Matrox Graphics. http://www.shuttle.eu/produits/mini-pc/h7-5820s/apercu
Tecplot releases Tecplot Chorus for analyzing multiple CFD [computational fluid dynamics] cases. http://www.tecplot.com/chorus
From Holland, Randall Newton reports that Bentley Systems has purchased PointTools. This means that pr guy Joe Joe Crosier is once again a Bentley employee.
GfxSpeakRSN (Randall Newton) on Twitter: "I feel sorry for newbie press attending #BeIn2011... there is so much tech jargon and BSI [Bentley Systems]-specific names."
martynday (Martyn Day): "As usual great technology and vision from Bentley but needs heavy simplification. Too many names,terms - it's a language in its own right."
"We expect that all of our major products will be available in the cloud within the next three years."
- Paul Sullivan, spokesman, Autodesk
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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.