Dassault Systemes recently announced in a press release that Scania chose to invest in ENOVIA as their PLM for integrated production design, product development, processes and manufacturing. Scania is a company of over 32,000 people and is reported to be one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks and buses for heavy transport applications, and of industrial and marine engines.
Anders G. Lindberg, technology manager, R&D, Scania states, “the biggest difference [as a result of this investment in ENOVIA] for the user today is that we have a platform where we can construct in 3D from the start and make cross functional use in a whole new way. We also have other possibilities for parametric design, optimization tools and kinematics compared to our previous solution.” Lindberg also talks about CATIA by stating, “we realized that CATIA was still the best authoring solution for us.”
Dassault Systemes seems well positioned to suit the needs of large corporations. However, when one sees press releases that talk about being selected by such organizations, one may be left wondering about Dassault Systemes’ ability to adjust their business model to suit small to mid-size companies. What are the CATIA and ENOVIA adoption rates for smaller organizations? Among those small adopters, how many have positive and beneficial experiences?
The buzzword at SolidWorks World 2010 was “cloud”. There was a running gag at the convention, take a shoot of “espresso” (or whatever else your mind can imagine) every time someone uttered the word “cloud” in a presentation or speech. If this game was real, we’d all be dead from alcohol poisoning, er I mean caffeine overdose. All this talk about cloud computing involves creating a new SolidWorks branded interface that uses Enovia technology as its backbone.
According to Bernard Charles, CEO of Dassault Systemes, and Jeff Ray, CEO of Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corporation, this marriage of SolidWorks with Enovia will bring new functionality, capabilities, and advantages to SolidWorks customers. The first product of this new approach is the brand SolidWorks PLM. The first release of a SolidWorks PLM product will be later this year, according Ray. I’m not sure of the exact name for that first product, but they did use SolidWorks Product Data Sharing at one point.
SolidWorks Product Data Sharing
It’s my impression (at this point in time) that the initial release of SolidWorks Product Data Sharing will not have the full functionality that many users need. A demonstration showed some of its capabilities, which are very rudimentary when compared to Enterprise PDM or SmarTeam. The main focus for the new application appears to be an advanced communication tool, and not an actual functioning PDM or PLM.
The user interface will take on two forms: web client and SolidWorks add-in. In the add-in, users may upload files from a window pane within SolidWorks. They may add comments. If more than one person is logged-in, the comments can function as a real-time chat. Functionality will allow users to invite other non-SolidWorks users via the web client version. Files will have previews, including assembly trees that graphically layout relationships between files. In the web client, 3D viewing of files will include on-screen commenting (redlining) within the view.
Security of the Cloud
Jeff Ray claims the workspace of the new cloud applications will be secure. In fact, Jon Hirshtick is adamant in his belief that cloud computing is far more secure than having data on local hard drives. This doesn’t come from opinionation. It actually comes from experience. SolidWorks is currently fighting a person who stole the source code for a SolidWorks application and is trying to sell it. The person was a former employee in India who stole the code by simply copying from his hard drive and walking out with it one day. Having this data on a cloud network with encrypted access may’ve prevented this theft.
Going the course
Charles and Ray pounded the pavement at SolidWorks World 2010 to get their message across. Despite any flak that Dassault Systemes gets for their new direction, they are going to stay the course. Enovia V6 is the future of Dassault Systemes. Bringing SolidWorks in line with that future is a priority. Charles stated that Dassault Systemes is not divided into SolidWorks and Enovia V5, it is united as V6.
I asked Ray a question about which form the new products will take. The answer, for now, was only that they will offer their customers the choice to remain with their current system or use the new system. In my view, this is corporate speak for “its going to replace what is currently on the market and although they will not leave customers high and dry, they will likely begin to reduce focus to the current system.” But I could be wrong.
Now, in this article, I’m simply reporting on the new direction of SolidWorks as presented to everyone at SolidWorks World 2010. I do have very real concerns about this new approach, which I will cover in a separate editorial (hopefully within a few days).
A new game has taken SolidWorks World 2010 by storm. Count how many times the word “cloud” (as in cloud computing) is spoken. At one point, it might seem that entire speeches consist entirely of the word “cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud.” There’s a message somewhere. Oh, that’s right. Cloud computing is the future of SolidWorks and the rest of the Dassault Systemes applications (maybe even for high security customers).
Cloud computing has many advantages over traditional installed software, according to Jeff Ray, CEO of SolidWorks. No matter how good SolidWorks is, it is still limited by the computer upon which it is installed. A significant investment is required to purchase computers that are powerful enough to get the most out of 3D CAD software. Also, installed software tends to be limited by computer operating systems. SolidWorks, in its current form, will not likely to be ported over to run natively on a MAC OS. Instead, SolidWorks will bypass these limitations with cloud computing. With cloud computing, “SolidWorks” (in whatever form it takes) may run on any platform. In fact, the user’s computer power will play very little roll. CAD files (even hugh assemblies) can be accessed instantly and edited on practically any platform, such as Microsoft, MAC OS, Google OS, Firefox, and iPhone. This is all accomplished without installing any software. They even discussed SolidWorks running seamlessly with ENOVIA V6, maybe even sometime this year.
According to Ray, the new cloud technologies will be rolled out as they are ready. The customer will choose when (if ever) to implement. These improvements represent a “completely new design environment”. Ray also stated that these new techologies where developed in secret and “run like a start up”. Technically, all this cloud talk represents nothing more than vaporware right now. However, if Dassault Systemes delivers, they may have a massive game changer on their hands.
In a recent article, I expressed concerns about the current state of PDM, especially for SolidWorks. There were particular questions posed regarding the long term outlook for Enterprise PDM. The concern is that Dassault Systemes’ plan for PDM solutions may be different than SolidWorks Corp. If that is the case, the Enterprise PDM may not be viable long term solution.
My worries where not allayed in a recent presentation by Noam Ktalav of Dassault Systemes (DS). He was asked about where Enterprise PDM fits into the DS product offerings. His answer didn’t fully address the question. Instead, he talked about Enovia and its scalability. Needless to say, official word regarding Enterprise PDM from DS is very mixed.
Jeff Ray offers insight on this topic
This prompted me to contact SolidWorks Corp for a clearer picture, as least from their perspective. Jeff Ray, CEO of SolidWorks Corp, was able to provide some interesting insights. He exclaimed that statements from DS about Enterprise PDM are mixed. Ray did offer hope that something is being done about this.
[There is a] very intensive effort between SolidWorks and Enovia for a clear road map.
SolidWorks Corp is working hard to lay out a clear plan for its customers. Ray discussed the need for a long term strategy. SolidWorks Corp does not want to force a decision on customers that may eventually lead to a dead end. This would bad for SolidWorks Corp, bad for reputation of individuals who relied on the solutions offered by SolidWorks Corp, and bad for the companies that implemented those solutions. Instead, Ray declared,
We need to give people a scalable answer.
Ray then stated that he wants to optimize the user experience and “hide the plumbing” of the software. He doesn’t want to let technology get in the way of the user experience. He elaborated that users shouldn’t have to be IT experts or even require extensive reliance upon IT departments just to manage their data.
So, a solution that will address Enterprise PDM’s place in the DS universe is coming. As to the when and in what form? Answers will be forthcoming soon.
And what of SolidWorks Workgroups PDM?
During my interview with Ray, I also asked about SolidWorks Workgroups PDM (aka PDMWorks). He clarified that development of the application has hit the limits of the technology behind it. It is not worth the effort to continue to extensively develop the application further. He stated that SolidWorks Corp will continue to support Workgroups PDM and any customers that choose to use it, but that the limitations of the application need to be clearly explained.