Hey! You! Get Offa My Cloud!

This is going far beyond just a few curmudgeons upset about someone fiddling with their CAD software. If it was ever just that.

“I really worry about everything going to the cloud,” Wozniak told the audience</p> <p>“I want to feel that I own things. A lot of people feel, ‘Oh, everything is really on my computer,’ but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it.”

Remember when Apple aficionados used to be sanctimonious about not getting hit by viruses? If you’re a crook, do you knock over a thrift store? No, you go where the money is – like a bank. Apple users don’t yap about viruses so much now that they are more popular, because they are seen as more of a target.

Remember when it was safe to store your stuff on-line? It was safe pretty much because it wasn’t widespread enough to be seen as a lucrative target. Plus, now we know that there are people who do bad stuff purely out of the badness of their hearts. They aren’t looking for any monetary reward, they just like doing bad things. <cue ACDC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap>

The more widespread the cloud becomes, the more it is seen as a target, the less secure it becomes. If you put a pot of gold in the cloud, someone is going to figure out how to loot it. It’s just that simple. CAD data is a huge jackpot for corporate espionage. Putting it in the cloud will just make it that much easier.

I think the cloud is great – for stuff you just want to give away. Like this blog. Like social media stuff. I use cloud stuff for things where I think it’s appropriate – stuff I don’t mind losing or giving away.  Backing up to the cloud? No. But I back up my blog on my local machine and NAS. And even so, this blog has been hacked at least twice. Charles Culp’s blog has been hacked, the SolidWorks forums have been hacked a couple of times – basically if you put it on-line, you can expect it to get hacked. I don’t know why things would be magically different for CAD data.

We have Wozniak, of all people, sounding the alarm about ownership in the cloud, this being reported here by a couple of commenters already. This is just one of the founders of the digital age talking common sense about real concerns. Why take your data, give it to someone else, and then rent it back from them, especially when they will offer you no guarantees that it won’t get hacked.

And then there was this poor schlep Mat Honan (a Gizmodo editor) who was massively hacked this past weekend, and lost all the data on his iCloud, iPhone, iPad, and Mac Book Air, not to mention, Twitter, a related Gizmodo Twitter acct and who knows what else being compromised. Was his case really all that much different from any other reasonably connected netizen? It just shows, if someone wants it, they are going to take it or destroy it. To pretend that you’re going to develop a hack-proof, fail-proof system is fooling yourself. And if you’re planning on doing this for customers, you are not giving them any comfort at all. No one in their right mind would sign an agreement that gives a corporation all their stuff, but doesn’t hold the corporation responsible for keeping it safe.

I’m not saying that just CAD in the Cloud is a bad idea. I think keeping any work on the cloud is a bad idea. “Oh, but Salesforce.com…” you say. Yeah, they’ve been hacked a bunch of times. This stuff is in the news constantly. I’d rather deep fry a turkey than put CAD data in the cloud.

Someone commented here last week about the fact that CAD in the cloud is probably appropriate for companies with multi-national design teams. Well, yeah. But that’s not the core of SW’s business. The little guy is the core of SW’s business. The people running DS think all customers look like Catia customers. We’ll see how right they are. Plus, the multi-national design teams are taking a risk. Is it a smart risk? Is it a necessary risk? Is it a risk you gain anything from? The fact that they are pushing SolidWorks users in the direction of Catia users says to me that the folks at DS are out of touch.

Ralph Grabowski wrote a month ago on another blogger who wrote why he thought SolidWorks had to kill off their existing highly successful product. Read it at this link, then c’mon back.

First of all, I get it. SW was old. But I really don’t believe in the all-or-nothing approach. Abandoning what has been the best mid-range modeler is lunacy in my estimation. If you want to do something revolutionary, figure out a way to gracefully enhance your product in a meaningful way without abandoning it.

Vajrang Parvate, SolidWorks Director of R&D takes his negative campaign to the streets. He apparently doesn’t have anything positive to say about the company he works for or the product they develop, he just takes potshots at anyone who criticizes SolidWorks (or Apple). How Soviet. This guy is all the proof you need that the company is not what it once was. SolidWorks as a company used to handle things with more class. Hey Vaj, spend a little more time talking about your software, and a little less being so thin-skinned. The criticism must be hitting close to home.

18 Replies to “Hey! You! Get Offa My Cloud!”

  1. What does making a will have to do with the cloud? Well, in discussing this subject with my very sharp lawyer the following discussion ensued,

    Me: I want to will my designs to someone when I die.
    Lawyer: OK
    Me: What about the stuff on my hard drives?
    Lawyer: Just back all of it up to one place.
    Me: OK
    Me again: Hey what about stuff on the cloud? (I don’t have any CAD data there to speak of. Just looking forward.)
    Lawyer: The whole issue of data on the cloud is being worked in about twenty lawsuits around the country right now.
    Me: I sure hope the lawyers don’t make the law regarding cloud data. I’d rather have the legislature do it.
    Lawyer: No you don’t want that. They legislators are stupid.
    Me: What about things like the UCC?
    Lawyer: Lawyers.

    The law regarding the cloud is not settled. It is being formed. Given the number of lawsuits that my lawyer says are going on, do you really want the crown jewels there before things like ownership are not settled? When drawings were kept in a fireproof vault in the company building it was real clear who owned them and the consequences of taking something out without authorization were clear. Ownership was clear. A cloud is a vault with glass walls and little hammer next to it with a sign that says, in case of need or want, just break glass.

    Are any big name companies using these lawsuits to shape the law to their own advantage? Who else, after all, can afford to pursue this type of thing?

  2. I was just commenting on the SW forum. When I hit submit comment, my screen fades and a please wait alert shows for about a minute. Is this what passes for responsive in the cloud environment?

  3. Matt,
    I totally agree with what you said. Perhaps it has been said elsewhere, but the cloud isn’t just a place for hackers to target. Any providers cloud can be sold to a buyer with money. It can be mined that way too. The cloud for backup? How do you backup the cloud? How do you protect your stuff on the cloud from lawyers and the guvment? We are all well aware that companies are required to keep old emails. Why, because you can now get in trouble for a rough draft of an email, a problem that you never had with a rotary file and shredder. Imagine a tort lawyer getting a hold on a “rough draft” of a product that had a feature in it, later discarded, that would have prevented some accident? Imagine that if Ford had been on the cloud when they designed the Pinto and some engineer had tried a design that prevented gas tank explosions? It would have been in the records on the cloud and Ford would have been toast.

  4. Micheal,
    You have to ask yourself how many years you are willing to fund stuff you never asked for and if it is indeed a misappropriation of your fees to be used this way. All companies need to advance and on occasion if they have revolutionary technology take a chance on it. The problem here is how many years in are they? Now they start over and how many more years will there be. The holy grail with all companies that want to go to the cloud is to increase their fees and create an ecosystem that their customers will find far harder to ever leave no matter how egregiously they get treated.

    Instead of best in class geometry creation tools you are getting shackles forged link by link paid for by you. Five years in and what, maybe four more to go? Dassault has a priceless gift in their customers loyalty to what was and loyalties reward is what? Yes I know they say that the words spoken about the SW you know and love on your own desktop is never going away but what do their actions say and which is the more compelling hint of reality?

    And this cloud thing. Does anyone believe the intent is not to force you into subscriptions which will end up costing you more than todays model with a paradigm that can’t be made secure over a network Dassault does not own and can’t control? Yeah you know what, if what I am saying is just FUD and nonsense why are there no binding promises with clarifications being made to customers in these areas? The legal department says don’t make promises you can’t ( CAN’T KEEP !!!) keep and will be held liable for in the future is why in my opinion. In one of Matt’s earlier posts a commentor talks about N!Fuze terms and conditions and how they basically said they won’t guarantee security or service Now just why would that be? I do suppose the billing statements are the only thing they will guarantee.

    I just don’t understand this whole thing. How a company in the drivers seat wants to park on a railroad crossing along with their passengers and few of them seem to want to open the door and leave before the train hits. That little glowing spot you see in the distance is getting bigger and who do you think will win?

  5. One thing suprises me is that this new fangled version of v6 that was shown a few years ago (the one which i assumed was the dodgey staged demo spoken of in recent posts) that had what seemed to be VERY good features. Some real features that me as a real user have been wanting handled at all (and/or better then it currently is). THings like chains and soft/compressible items like rubber/seals etc

    Am i dreaming or what? I swear i remember seing screenshots at SWW of things like this right from the very early stages before the whole Cloud thing blew into frame. They must have taken a second look at these few useful features and said “pffftt what were we thinking… we don’t want to deliver an actual USEFUL product!” and scraped it for iGarbage!

  6. Reading Gal Raz’s piece on SolidWorks development effectively stopping at 2007, combined with SolidWorks scrapping the project and starting over got me to thinking. Am I not getting a good return on the annual service agreement?

    If SolidWorks is making a major change there is obviously development costs but who should pay and when? It looks like it’s existing customers through overpriced, under-delivered service agreements. I’m sure that market forecasts indicate that the uptake of new customers would not recoup the costs of this rewrite.

    After the shock of the V6 major change wears off I look forward to V6 and hope that it overwhelms me. Hopefully then I will see that my thousands of dollars of service agreement money went to something worthwhile. Otherwise I will just be kicking myself for not migrating to another package earlier.

  7. @Charles
    Yes Charles but seemily lowly people have been found venturing into some very secure data sights. The problem with the sights you mentioned even if they were accessed, in some cases, if the data had not been revealed publicly, the perpetrators actions may never been made public either. No need to say why. This is the major problem you are going to have with the likes of Autodesk, Dassault etc. If their system are “hacked” there is NO obligation to reveal and that sets us all up for a fall.
    The more your told your data is secure the more attention you should pay to CHECKING the facts and when you do you will stike what I have: Autodesk will NOT allow any outside organization to validate their actions – BOOM!

  8. hmm,.. the Cloud = a Pawn Shop (kind of,.. sort of?)
    …”ok,.. here’s my stuff,.. it’s all yours now so, you can do what you want with it.. and, if later, I want my stuff back,… how much do I owe you?”

    .. 8^)

  9. @Charles
    Of course. There are situations for which this makes sense. In those cases you aren’t talking about an Amazon server, its much more controlled vpn. I wouldn’t say it’s invulnerable, look at the US agencies that have been hacked. The iCloud hack over the weekend was done without even hacking a password.

    fbi, dod, nasdaq, nsa If the NSA gets hacked, no one is exempt.

    http://techland.time.com/2012/02/06/fbi-hacked-while-congress-ponders-cybersecurity-legislation/

    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Greek-Teenager-Arrested-for-Hacking-into-Pentagon-FBI-and-NSA-205040.shtml

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/03/nsa-investigates-nasdaq-hack/

    http://www.spamfighter.com/News-13803-Chinese-Attackers-Hacked-into-NSA.htm

  10. Just as a very reasonable counterpoint, I, or others in my company, can access CAD files from all of the major aircraft manufacturers, right now. They have their own servers, with massive amounts of security. It is a multi-step process to get to their files, and it is all very restrictive, and most of the time very slow.

    Is it the same as CAD on the Cloud? No. It is very different. But at the same time, they host very sensitive documents that are of national security (eg, CAD files for the F-22).

  11. I sent my rant directly to SolidWorks in an email approximately 10 days ago about what a mistake it is to store Engineering Design Data on The Cloud. I cited my usual reasons, the same reasons I’ve been ranting about for the past 3 years. I sent the email as high up the chain as I could to people I’ve spoken to before.

    I won’t name any names, but they once again stated that DASSAULT SYSTEMES SolidWorks V6 will be available for local or cloud implementation. No further details were provided.

    I guess I could have asked even more questions, like why did you scrap Austin’s version? or when exactly is it coming out? but I’m tired of all that.

    I’ve just about worn out my welcome with DASSAULT SYSTEMES, but hey for about 11 years or so it was great, the last 3? Well…. I even drove 200 miles round trip recently to have a Last Supper with my favorite SolidWorks employee. Moving on, tryin’ to anyway LOL!

    A few years ago, a SolidWorks employee said to me, “I don’t like your confrontational style.” Well what can I say? That’s just the way I am.

    Now let’s see; can I calibrate my RF Signal Generator using my Oscilloscope?…

    Devon Sowell

  12. Thanks, Matt. I thought this could use a bit more attention—however sick of the subject we might be. Seriously, if Catia Lite is the next big SolidWorks, I’m out. It might truly be easier to migrate to Solid Edge than attempt a migration of all my stuff from SolidWorks to a Catia database—and at least in Solid Edge I could edit whatever came over as “dumb”. (Yes, they’ll need to work on their organic surfacing stuff, but I’m sure they’re already diligently working on that.)

  13. I am wondering actually how SWv6 can now be anything but a Catia lite. Obviously they can’t get the original cloud vision to work or if it can be made to work it is years away. What option do they have but to push out a cut down reskinned Catia as a replacement albeit with a lot of egg on their face. Existing SW has run out of legs and even the slowest witted SW users must be catching on to the predicament. The failure to deliver anything usable or even have some detail to actively promote ahead of a release has moved beyond a farce and become a weeping wound for the company. Seriously, how can top management not find themselves at the dole queue after a mess like this? This is really a very bad look for Dassault and no doubt very bad for internal morale as well. The next phase of global economic woe is not that far away either. In fact indications are a widespread disorderly collapse will beat the release. There had better be some real leadership from some quarter before the situation becomes to big to save. More of the same just won’t do.

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