t h e b u s i n e s s o f c a d
Issue #749 | September 4, 2012
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In This Issue
1. Integrating Automation with Drawing Viewers
2. Update on Autodesk's Aims for the Cloud
3. Out of the Inbox, and our other regular columns.
Integrating Automation with Drawing Viewers
A few months ago in http://www.upfrontezine.com/2012/upf-744.htm I wrote about Right Hemisphere's new life as the Visual Enterprise Solution division of SAP, the giant German business management software company. Back then, we did just a Q&A, but SAP thought an online demo might be a good idea.
The part I found most fascinating was how SAP is experimenting with real time data. For instance, Right Hemisphere and its competitors all can do maintenance videos, such as the steps required to remove a shock absorber from a vehicle. In all these viewers, as you click the next step of the process, the view zooms to the part affected and an animation shows the part being removed. That's normal.
Here's what's new: SAP using RFID [radio frequency identification] and other contact-less interfaces. For instance, as the maintenance worker comes up to the shock absorber, his RFID badge is read to record who did the work; it also checks to ensure that he is qualified to work on the part.
In more sensitive cases, employees use their cards to confirm that each step has been carried out. Or, the software may require a supervisor to sign off on the repair work.
Other technology SAP is experimenting with includes Microsoft's Kinnex, the wheel on iPods, using voice control to select objects and query parts; and taking photos with iPhones and then sending it in.
All these new approaches are possible through Right Hemisphere's API.
Mark Landrosh and Robert Merlo of SAP Visual Enterprise Solution Management told me last week about the other ways in which their customers combine visual and business information. Right Hemisphere provides the visual, while tradSAP provides the biz info. The two have had a relationship since 2008, when SAP OEM'ed the viewing technology; SAP has been careful to be agnostic about engineering solutions.
Mr Merlo pointed out the three ways to marry data with visuals:
The graphical data in Right Hemisphere is streamed to minimize the data impact on laptop computers, hidden entities are not displayed until needed, such as looking at the back of a component. You can add installation instructions gleaned from SAP data to the CAD model, which is displayed using Right Hemisphere viewing technology.
You can create a dashboard that reports on the status of components. For example, choose the tail section of an airplane to view the cost, quality, and on-time status of any selected part; an embedded map can display the locations of component suppliers around the world. This is an example of the 3D model driving analytics.
But you can go the other way, in which the analytics drives the 3D model. Right Hemisphere can be made to show a selected part, its related parts, and to highlight parts that are causing problems. It can show cost of repairs and incidence of failures.
I asked about "business objects," a term I'd heard of but was unfamiliar with. BO a way of slicing and dicing data stored in databases, Mr Merlo explained, so that it can be presented in a user-friendly format, like pie charts, or dynamic widgets that updates automatically when data updates -- instead of viewing long static rows in spreadsheets. How easy is it to create dashboards? SAP has software to create them; once created, they tend not to change too much.
Right Hemisphere is Windows-based, and available in two versions: stand-alone, and as ActiveX for embedding into other software programs. "No Macs?" I asked. There are some requests for Mac, but business runs on Windows overwhelmingly.
New is a Right Hemisphere viewer for iPad, with plans for an Android version. iPad seemed appropriate because it was designed for consuming information. Download at no charge from http://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/sap-ag/id391959547 (includes three demo models).
The key, Mr Merlo concluded, is to connect to business information. This isn't something that CAD vendors can do; just someone like SAP. http:// www.righthemisphere.com
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Update on Autodesk's Aims for the Cloud
Financial analyst Steven Ashley of Robert W. Baird & Co asked Autodesk ceo Carl Bass, "And as you move to the cloud, is there anything you could tell us about timeframe, milestones, what kind of phased implementation we can look for over time?" Mr Bass replied:
We are believers that cloud. Mobile and social are phenomena that are important technology platforms for design and engineering. And our offerings in the future will be there. We've been very clear about this for a long time.
What I would say is the way we intend to offer it is to combine our cloud-based offerings to existing products, generally in suites with subscription. So it's a bundled offering that comes together, and we're offering cloud-based Web services that are complementary to the existing products that exist within the suite.
We will roll out different pricing models, termed offerings, and other ways for people to use them, as well as a-la-carte ways [pick and choose] so they can get access to more services.
What we hope to see is a switch, in which now the desktop products are the primary component of a suite and that packaged offering, and we think over time it will move where the desktop component becomes less important or the Web services becomes more important.
And so you'll see a change in licensing model; you'll see a change in how we go to market. We will certainly see a change in the usage model amongst our customers.
We've already introduced a bunch of Web-based services. There's more coming out this year. Beginning of the year, you'll see a lot more. Right now, what I'd say is we have very strong individual [cloud] offerings. There are things like the PLM 360 and the Autodesk 360, and we will continue to enhance them as we go forward.
Matthew Hedberg of RBC Capital Markets asked, "Obviously there's been others would come before you that have transitioned from a perpetual [license] to more a faster cloud-based revenue stream. I'm wondering, are there any lessons learned for some of these other prior examples that you guys are implementing that may make the transition smoother?" Mr Bass replied:
We have definitely studied them all. One's in software, one's outside software. We've looked at all kinds of transitions. Right now, most of what we're doing is developing cloud and mobile applications. The major change that's in front of our customers is going from buying point [individual] products to buying suites. And most of that transition came from a perpetual license with upgrades to one with maintenance over the last 6 to 10 years. I think we've managed that fairly successfully.
What we hope to do is gradually phase in new kinds of offering that are more annuity-based, more based on termed offerings. But we're not seeing any of that affect our revenues today. But I think it's an issue we'll deal with and we've extensively studied what others have done.
Out of the Inbox
He used to work for Dassault's PLM division, but now Oleg Shilovitsky is an Autodesk employee after the company acquired Inforbix. Autodesk will incorporate the technology for indexing, search, personalization and data visualization into Autodesk PLM360. Mr Shilovitsky's title changes from Inforbix co-founder to Autodesk senior director of PLM and data management. The acquisition price is being kept secret from shareholders.
JTB World's license reporter JTB FlexReport v7.1 now also handles MathLM license usage for running multiple instances of Wolfram Mathematica with a network license. http://blog.jtbworld.com/2012/08/jtb-flexreport-71-introduces-mathlm.html
InspectionXpert Corporation releases InspectionXpert for AutoCAD Mechanical 2012 to automate the ballooning of AutoCAD drawings and for the creation of Inspection Sheets for AS9102, PPAP and other quality control inspections. http://www.inspectionxpert.com
Russian software contractor LEDAS is doing well, raking in the most ever revenues, second year in a row.
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.
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On our blogs
Here are some of the items that appeared during the last week on our WorldCAD Access blog at http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com:
And at our Gizmos Grabowski blog <http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/gizmos/>:
Letters to the Editor
Re: What caused ADSK's biggest share price plunge (in three years)?
"Gee Ralph, you mean the profit margins dropped after Autodesk announced all that cloud junk? Whoda thunk that would effect anything EH!"
- Dave Ault
"When will we get a chance to read Mr. Jay Vleeschhouwer's analysis on financial reports by CAD majors?
Hope you get to do a dance around the office soon!"
- Siddhartha Oza, product manager
"I found your write-up on the precipitate fall of Autodesk's share price interesting."
- John Callen
"Again loved your Notable Quotable."
- Dean Bacus
"Now call me old fashioned, but data integrity is pretty important. I want to be in control of my data, rather than rely on some magic cloud and hope for the best."
- Andrew Orlowski, The Register
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Entire contents copyright 2012 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.