SolidWorks World Day 3 – Wowed by the cloud

4 Feb 2010: Yesterday, the final day of SWW, SolidWorks demonstrated portions of what’s in SW 2011, but it paled in comparison to what they revealed about PLM in the cloud, called SolidWorks PLM. Of course, with a 20 minute staged demo, only a glimmer of the capability can be seen. Perhaps even less really understood.

I expected this to be another boring demonstration of managing data files, only on a different source. It was anything but. SolidWorkshas gone way beyond just moving PDM data to a cloud operation. They have fundamentally re-thought how such a transition might impact day-to-day engineering collaboration.

In the demonstrated example of their Data Sharing application, based on Enovia V6, a user wanted to collaborate with others. He uploaded the model and shared it with others simply by adding their id’s to a list of users. The cloud app automatically updates revision numbers as required, captures typed comments and instructions, and manages all the messy communications allowing access to anyone with a web browser. Collaborators with SolidWorks can download the files onto their local PC’s and work at a faster speed, uploading when complete. In the event a collaborator does not have SolidWorks they can use 3DLive to view, examine the model history and it’s components, and use other aspects of 3Dlive.

For external users, a new feature of SolidWorks 2011, seems to play well with SolidWorks PLM. It allows defeaturing a model, while preserving key points such as attachments needed for supplier sharing without endangering the IP.

Such cloud collaboration simply means identifying another user and giving her access to the dataset; yielding instantaneous access and no need to install any apps.

SolidWorks hinted that additional PLM apps would be available (no timeframe), adding more function in the future. This got me to thinking about some possibilities. Why not introduce PLM apps sort of like iPhone apps. Charging users for each major function, yet enabling it in the cloud? How about a document creation app, or a functional requirements app, or some mini-simulation apps, or a supplier relations app?

I’ll soon post another blog on the 2011 enhancements demonstrated.

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