The Business of CAD
Issue #803 | January 21, 2014
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In This Issue
1. Dassault Moves to the Internal Cloud
External cloud fails at latency and security, so go on indoors
2. Heard in Twitter and On the Blog
Delcam shareholders approve Autodesk's takeover
3. Letters to the Editor
Our readers and their cloud politics
Dassault Moves to the Internal Cloud
At a November luncheon given to the press during Dassault Systemes's 3DExperience conference in Las Vegas, company executives described the cloud initiative they planned to launch this month (January, 2014). Here are my notes from the event:
"We have changed in two years the company, from being technical-oriented to business-oriented," explained ceo Bernard Charles.
"We are going to run the cloud inside." This solves the two problems of latency and security (can't steal what you can't get at). Latency is the problem in which the further your computer is from the server, the slower the response time over the internet.
"V6 is not the platform," he explained to the puzzled media. "Enovia is not the platform; Enovia is the architecture," he added, further deepening the furrows on our brows. "3Dexperience is the platform. Everything in V6 runs on 3Dexperience and you just select which apps you want to run."
Q: On everything going to the cloud, what will you be supporting on the public cloud -- Microsoft Azure, Amazon EC2, others?
Benard Charles: All the cloud we do now is Dassault cloud; all the stack is from the open world; and elasticity (demand and capacity provision) is from Amazon. We have our own PLM to manage the cloud. We will control how we scale [the external cloud]. we will monitor response time so that someone in Singapore will work extremely well like someone in France. The exception is China, where it is difficult to access the Web; this is not a political statement, but the reality.
Q: When I think what is happening about the cloud, you and I might remember time-sharing services in the past. Back then, we did not know how big the bill would be at the end of the month, because we didn't know how much CPU we were using, and the level of priority. It is a challenge to the entire industry: we forgot the problems that caused us to move away from time-sharing.
A: We have never forgot that, because we have a lot of Dassault customers in rental mode. We charge annually according to the number of users, not the amount of computing used. This is not pure time-sharing.
Q: 'Platform' and 'architecture' mean different things to different people. What does it mean to you?
A: The platform powers the execution of all the apps; there are thousands of them now in the Dassault portfolio. V6 is an abstraction of what we do, its architecture defines industry-experience solutions and process experience. We do not sell apps; we price the process expense. Openness is defined by STEP.
Q: I've seen the transition to digital drafting to digital mockups to PLM and now to 3Dexperience, which has expanded beyond design to banking and clothing. Is the 'PLM' term now obsolete?
A: PLM is a good business practice, as are digital mockups and 3D design. They will be used for a long time. With each step, we increased the number of stakeholders who could take part. We make the bet that we can connect all the dots. We want to do the full connectivity: multi-channel marketing, showrooms, connections with suppliers.
Q: Do you plan other scientific projects, like the Giza project?
A: It was done to illustrate how much 3Dexperience can bring to society. It is an easy way to share information.
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Dassault Moves to the Internal Cloud, continued...
What Ralph Grabowski Thinks
Only two CAD vendors of the large ones (i.e., those over $500M in annual revenues) are betting the entire future of their company on the cloud. Autodesk is betting on the external cloud (and in a future issue of upFront.eZine I'll explain why), while Dassault is betting on both external and the internal clouds. All others -- Bentley Systems, PTC, Siemens PLM, and so on -- see CAD-on-the-cloud either as an irritating distraction or a marketing gimmick or a way to access PLM data, at best.
The problems created by latency and security (and NSA trans-border snooping) makes Dassault's turn to the internal cloud sensible for its customers, which typically are ones large enough to have the expertise to host their own cloud infrastructure.
The problem I see, however, is that Dassault seems devoted to articulating their future direction unclearly. Members of the media, some of whom have degrees in engineering or computer science, found themselves at the 3DExperience Customer Event asking repeatedly, "How does 3Dexperience work, and what does it cost?"
After two days at the conference and reading many reports issued from it, it seems to me that Dassault offers each department within corporations a collection of software deemed suitable for the department's needs. I seem to recall that Dassault has around 220 individual apps available, ranging from finite element analysis to rolling out new fashion collections.
All the programs run on a corporate server; users access whatever software they need (and what their department is licensed to use). The corporation pays annually for the software bundle licensed by each department. There is no limit to how much software is used during the year. Pricing depends on the deal the corporation can cut with Dassault.
Dassault recognizes the needs of its customers, and so is promising to support the current V5 generation of software into the early 2020s, while giving customers choices: (a) stay with desktop software, (b) move to an external cloud, or (c) be safe with an internal cloud. Dassault is, however, lousy at explaining themselves.
I'll end off with this. In the glossy Compass: The 3Dexperience Magazine that Dassault handed out at the show, a pull quote caught my eye: "One great thing about cloud is it forces discipline on you because you can't customize it" -- a statement sure to put sparkle in the eyes of IT staff, and gloom in the minds of CAD power users. To understand Dassault is to understand this: it sells to CxOs, not to end users.
[Disclosure: Dassaults Systemes provided me with air travel, hotel, meals, ground transportation, and small corporate gifts.]
One More Thing...
Rakesh Rao and friends last week launched Design Sense with the vision of provding AEC field reporting tools, BIM, and so on. They see that "the routine and the mundane followed by majority of users today is taken for granted as normal-way-of-working," and so aim to counter it with custom and off-the-shelf solutions. http://www.thedesignsense.com
Heard In Twitter and On the Blog
upFront.eZine (@upFronteZine): "At a General Meeting held today in Birmingham, Delcam shareholders voted to accept the offer made by Autodesk to acquire the company."
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upFront.eZine (@upFronteZine): Now even Photoshop outputs to 3D printers. I wonder if Autodesk saw this one coming from Adobe -> http://thenextweb.com/dd/2014/01/16/adobe-introduces-support-3d-printing-photoshop-brings-glut-new-features-creative-cloud-apps/
Jon Banquer (@JonBanquer): @upFronteZine When Adobe decides to compete with Autodesk it's clear to me who will win.
upFront.eZine (@upFronteZine): Flashback to 2007, the first time Adobe entered the 3D CAD market:"Free Update Enables Customers to Convert 3D CAD Files to PDF Without CAD"
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upFront.eZine (@upFronteZine): Oh great. Now even internet-connected crockpots are a part of zombie networks. Next up, Nest devices? -> http://qz.com/167817/someones-refrigerator-just-took-part-in-a-malicious-cyberattack/
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Here are items that appeared on the WorldCAD Access blog recently at http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com:
Letters to the Editor
Re: We're Online! (Who Cares About the Rest of the World?
"Carl's stock sale was an issue of options. He sold stock to pay for the options that expired. It is common, planned, and not related to any other aspects of company performance. Check it out yourself, but please don't quote me."
- Name withheld by request
"Interesting comment by Mr. Sacchi. So he asks 'How much of it and which is actually useful to people that have 100% high speed connectivity?' while we ask 'Who has 100% high speed connectivity'?"
"Do you have some secret document that shows Autodesk's 'master plan' is to move all their software to the cloud? Things are moving to the internet whether you want them to or not. But that doesn't mean it will happen tomorrow. So stop with the FUD."
- @kellings via Twitter
The editor replies: "For a start, read this 60-page, 34,000-word document at http://seekingalpha.com/article/1726342-autodesks-ceo-hosts-investor-day-conference-transcript, as I did."
"While others have faded, you're still kicking ass. I've enjoyed the two most recent issues as much I've ever enjoyed past issues. Thank you for all you do!
I may have long ago left the "mainstream" CAD business (whatever that is anymore), but I still feel connected to it when reading your reports and interviews. I always plug your newsletter to any youngsters who are involved with the general industry also."
- Dave Stein
"Lovin' the politics in this e-ditin!"
"Almost all of the software companies exhibiting at Disrupt seemed to me to be built for today, or even yesterday, rather than tomorrow."
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Entire contents copyright 2014 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $840. 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.