One of the reasons I joined the Solid Edge team is so that I could stop writing about “the cloud”. When I started writing about CAD in the cloud, we had to have arguments about what “the cloud” was, but these days everybody is pretty well on board with that. These days Autocad is delivering cloud-based software, and depending on when you tune in and who you listen to, they may or may not shove all their users. One of the big Autodesk cloud hecklers has stopped writing. Along with me stopping writing about that topic, Dave Ault is all that stands between corporate CAD and the cloud.
Sometimes I read Ralph Grabowski’s articles. He usually takes a position somewhat contrary to the conventional thinking. Of course I like that. He wrote one recently where Jim Heppelmann, the CEO of PTC, sounds like he’s conceding the future direction of his company’s products to people outside the company, and not even on the board of directors: his customers. The 1990’s PTC has clearly grown up. I think Ralph’s article’s title reflects a paraphrase of Mr. H’s words: “Sure, we could do the cloud, but customers aren’t interested”.
Mr. Grabowski has written another article more recently about another competitor with cloud aspirations. It seems its all a moving target. With each public announcements the goal posts are moved some how. It’s not clear to me how the customers of that company have figured into the decisions. The CEO, Bernard Charles says straight up that “We have changed … from being technical-oriented to business-oriented”. So the focus has moved away from CAD and then again away from engineering.
I’m glad I don’t have to write about this stuff directly any more, aside from a glancing blow here and there. I’m counting my lucky stars that I was able to ride the wave up, and don’t have to be there when it all fades.
And of course there’s Jon Hirschtick and his new CAD company OnShape. Not much is known at this point but there will be some on-line component. The anticipation of Jon’s new project is high, they recently got a nice CAD-dy name.
We’ve been over the advantages and disadvantages of running software and/or storing your data on the web. In my mind, it all boils down to this – the web is great for stuff you want to give away. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to put stuff on the web you don’t want to give away. If your intellectual property has no value, I guess it doesn’t matter where you put it (don’t laugh – as preposterous as it sounds, there are companies making business plans based on giving away IP that doesn’t belong to them).
I’m happy to be working for a company that values you as a customer more than that.