Updating our report on “Selecting a new MCAD system”

We published this report last March as a how-to guide for small-medium customers on how to go about the process. Sponsored by PTC, the report was nevertheless completely vendor independent. Just late last week we received permission to publish the report in its entirety on our web site at CAD-Portal.com, rather than just the executive summary. Enjoy! As always we appreciate your feedback.

The Dassault Systemes Success Story by Francis Bernard

Francis Bernard, my former boss at Dassault Systemes, and I would like to say, a friend, sent me an article he wrote detailing the emergence of CATIA from software for analyzing wind tunnel models at Avion Marcel Dassault into Dassault Systemes. I have included it intact at my website at http://www.cad-portal.com. I think you will enjoy reading it from his perspective. I worked at IBM as a CATIA regional executive during the years 1984 to 1987 and then at DS USA in 1988 as head of North American Marketing and personally witnessed many of these events happen. Bernard was a tireless executive and a true believer in the potential of CATIA and 3D modeling to change the engineering design world – and he proved to be right!

Siemens PLM Software wins CAD business at Daimler Benz

Late last week Siemens PLM Software announced that they had won the complete CAD/PLM business at Daimler Benz.

By now we have had a chance to hear from other industry pundits and also spoke with Eric Sterling, SR VP of Marketing at Siemens PLM. It was interesting to get Sterling’s perspective on why they won and to get a potential size of the business. Of course we have all been exposed to the domino theory of large account and industry marketing. The idea being that winning a major account in a significant industry, especially one where there are only a few very large players, will drive additional business from their competitors and suppliers. This is certainly true of the automotive business as well as in aerospace.

While Siemens has some major positions in the automotive industry, namely GM, Nissan, and Renault, to name a few, this looked at first glance to be one where Siemens made major inroads against Dassault Systemes. In fact, Daimler Benz is one of DS’s premier accounts.

The announcement by Siemens was a surprise (at least to me) and the follow up press release by DS was a bit strange.

Basically Siemens won the entire CAD/PLM business at Daimler, displacing CATIA, a notoriously tough thing to do. It really seems like Siemens strategy was one of “death by a thousand bites.” Siemens had already won the PLM side, with it’s Teamcenter software, the factory side with Tecnomatix, and the analysis side with it’s Nastran offering.

Apparently Daimler was examining NX for almost a year before make the final decision. Yet, DS claimed no knowledge of the evaluation. Where were their sales people? Is that a natural outcome of eliminating IBM from the sales cycle?

Sterling, as is Siemens custom, was less than forthcoming about the size of the business. My rough estimate is 2000 to 3000 CAD seats at Daimler, 2 to 3 times this size at the their suppliers, and possibly 7-8K PLM seats, certainly a sizable piece of business.

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At Autodesk University – mobile computing and infinite computing rule!

2 Dec 2010: iPads everywhere. Or so it seems. And supported by amazing cloud apps!

I wrote this on my new iPad while flying back home yesterday after spending two days at Autodesk University (AU). On Monday Autodesk ran a special media event at AU in Las Vegas. Most of Autodesk’s industry verticals reviewed their products and strategies. Yesterday Carl Bass, Autodesk president and CEO opened the conference, highlighted by a series of customers presenting how they make an impact (the conference theme) with design.

Luckily, Bass made himself available to the media for a one hour Q & A session. Bass is simply amazingly on top of Autodesk’s product plans. He continually highlighted how Autodesk is using and plans to use cloud computing to “do things that were not possible before.” For example, recent technology makes use of GPU parallel computing to spawn multiple processes, thus speeding up overall compute time. The only trouble is that developers need to modify their code for a parallel architecture. With the cloud, why bother? Just initiate multiple processes and let them run to completion. Computing cycles have become so cheap and the cloud represents so much resource, that this is now possible.

Different than some other CAD software companies, Autodesk’s view of how cloud computing is brilliant! Some examples: instead of serial rendering, perform many rendering solutions at once, letting the renderer itself choose various lighting schema; instead of a laborious trial and error process for optimization, give the close apps parameter ranges and let the software solve for best fit or design optimizations; deliver solutions to mobile devices, engaging cloud computing to boost their solution speeds; and so on.

I am impressed with Autodesk’s focus and thinking outside the box. Don’t replicate desktop solutions on the cloud. Instead make maximum use of desktop and mobile systems, utilizing the cloud where it makes sense. Jeff Kowalski, Autodesk CTO explained how their software, to support different platforms (think AutoCAD for the Mac), has been redesigned to isolate it self from the platform, thus making applications easier to transport to iPads and similar tablets, when they appear.

See for yourself. Autodesk now has several iPad apps, which you can download from iTunes: AutoCAD WS, IPM Viewer, and Sketchbook. AutoCAD WS makes dwg files portable and practical on the iPad, including mobile alterations of data and markup. IPM Viewer views Publisher animations and other documentation. Sketchbook on the iPad makes sketching imminently practical. At AU, 7 artists were awarded best in class for their mobile art pieces — and they are spectacular. See for yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsWIL0k-Fos .

I asked Bass about when we might see clear examples of specification driven design. He told me about some work they have recently done with mold analysis. In cases where the mold fill is not satisfactory, designers often need to play with different product or mold alternatives to get a better solution. He asked his developers, instead, to imagine a cloud solution. Instead of serially examining shell size, different materials, and possible added injection gates, initiate a cloud solution that would examine these alternatives and suggest the more practical ones to the designer.

Contrast this kind of thinking to some of their competitors. PTC seems to be focusing all their energy on revitalizing their desktop suite to their Creo product line. PTC’s CEO, also a product dude, at the Creo product launch, wondered where cloud computing might be useful. SolidWorks seems only to be toying with some type of collaborative solution.