t h e   b u s i n e s s   o f  c a d


Issue #745 |  August 6, 2012
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In This Issue


1. alcove9
      - History of A9

      - Customers Using Alcove9


2. A short issue this week, because, well, it's summer.


3. Out of the Inbox, and our other regular columns.



The problem: the huge amount of money people have to put up front to implement a search solution, such as PLM. But this costs too much and takes too long to implement + the pressure from the vendor to buy more licenses and services..


The solution: an open source enterprise model. Alcove9 does enterprise search for CAD and manufacturing, and has a close relationship with Aras, the open source PLM system.


The technology: Apache's open source SOLR search engine running an integration framework using Google's REST APIs. It processes CAD data and images, running inside AutoCAD, Inventor, ARAS Innovator, and so on. Just click the Search button. Or, use it through a Web browser interface. It searches files stored on internal servers, Vault, Sharepoint, and other sources.


A9 Solutions ceo Sam Abu-Hamdan told me that he wants Alcove9 to be a one-stop shop. "How can you guarantee this," I asked. He replied, " We now access text, meta data, and so on in structured and unstructured formats. In the case of proprietary databases, we build connectors using our APIs. We can accesses PMI and other data from CAD models."


Mr Abu-Hamdan had such a complete presentation that I could barely think of any questions to ask. One of his slides, for instance, listed his competitors, a topic most other firms I interview are unkeen to discuss. Competitors suffer from these drawbacks:

History of A9

The company began in 2004 as Verity, which embedded its search engine MatrixOne. By 2006 120,000 licenses were sold through MatrixOne accounts. In 2007, Autonomy bought Verrity at the same time that Dassault bought MatrixOne, and this was the opportunity for the search engine to get into markets beyond MatrixOne.


In 2009, they added unified search, and sold the product through Tata Technologies. In 2011, it was renamed Alcove9 and sold by the A9 company itself. In 2012, it went to open source, and integrated with AutoCAD and Aras Innovator.


A9 plans for the rest of 2012 to enhance the UI of Alcove9, improve semantics, and add video search (in which spoken words are synthesized). In 2013, it plans to release integrations for Synergis Adept, SmarTeam, Sharepoint, and for ERP software, such as Inforbix and SAP.


Customers Using Alcove9

The biggest customer is Honda in automotive, and M7 parts supplier in aerospace. A9 is now entering medical equipment field.


"Where does the name come from," I wondered. It turns out that the US Library of Congress eight physical alcoves, plus a 9th one that is virtual.


"What a typical setup," I asked. To implement Alcove9, it takes just 5-10 minutes to set up Web browser, but then depending on the customer's data, the indexing process can take days or weeks, a process that happens in the background. At Honda, for instance, it took about a month to get all R&D data indexed and thumbnailed. This is a one-time setup; after this, spiders and triggers do immediate updates of new data.


In the demo that Mr Abu-Hamdan gave, I was impressed at how easily he could narrow down the search parameters to find specific data. It's a little bit like using Google Search, in which you can specify "in the last week" and "dwg files."


You pay for the software through an annual subscription, with a la carte pricing. A gold membership gives you upgrades, helpdesk access, online chat, and email support. Platinum level adds any services you need.



Solid Edge Online Trial.
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Out of the Inbox

It's siggraph this week, just about the only annual trade show for computer graphics that still gets people excited. There'll be some hardware-related CAD news coming out tomorrow that we'll be covering next week (news embargoes and all that). Today, however, we can tell you that OpenGL is upgraded to 4.3, and OpenGL ES to 3.0. As the press release explains, "New OpenGL ES 3.0 API will drive the next step towards graphics parity between mobiles, desktops, and games consoles" in 2014.


When asked by a financial analyst about Creo's flat seat count for nine months now, PTC ceo James Heppelmann explained, "We've not yet monetized much of the real opportunity with Creo. I think that's going to be a strong focus as we go into next year. Now that we have the Creo 2.0 product out, we have a much more solid offering before we had an exciting story."
      Asked about direct modeling (CoCreate), he replied, "As rest of the business is trending, more or less flattish license revenue overall and flattish seat count." (Source: http://seekingalpha.com/article/754051-parametric-technology-management-discusses-q3-2012-results-earnings-call-transcript)


Oops: last week, we mentioned the Inventor Fusion for Mac software that Autodesk released last week. Turns out your Mac needs the recent Mountain Lion update of Apple's OS X operating system to run. So, the cost ends up being Free + $20.


Dassault announces Solidworks Electrical for 2D schematics and a separate version for 3D electrical modeling, called Solidworks Electrical 3D. A third version (Solidworks Electrical Professional) combines the two. They're all based on software developed by Trace Software, and will be released mid-August. http://www.solidworks.com/electrical


From the pen of Erik De Keyser, ceo Bricsys: "You probably remember Lieven Scheire, our keynote speaker on our most recent conference explaining the relativity theory in his very own way. We are supporting Lieven in many ways. We develop/maintain his website: www.scienceandsilliness.com and register/edit his movies. In the following movie he shines a completely new light on the numbering system of the Decathlon competition, an Olympic discipline as you may know. Assuming that you are in for a joke now and then, I send it to you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHuNjHojurU "


upFront.reSearch is the research arm of upFront.eZine Publishing, and so provides consulting and white papers for clients. We provide consulting in the areas of CAD cohabitation, improving AutoCAD drafting efficiency, and understanding CAD trends -- as well as provide expert consulting on legal cases, such as HP vs Intergraph and John Doe vs Microsoft. Some of our white papers are available from http://www.upfrontezine.com/research.

      Contact ralphgrabowski@upfrontezine.com to start the conversation.

On our blogs
Here are some of the items that appeared on our WorldCAD Access blog at http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com:

Notable Quotable

"With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away."
     - Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple Computer

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