Major Cloud Failures Cannot Be Ignored

In the past couple of weeks there have been a string of cloud failures that cannot be ignored. This week we saw the Amazon ECC cloud failures due to massive storms in the Washington DC area, the CNET article on crime in the cloud, problems last week with getting files from Dropbox, Dropbox security breach, Google Docs announcing an off-line version, Twitter overloads and other things that never make headlines. These are all bellwether services that those selling the cloud point to as irrefutable evidence of the inevitability of the cloud.

I’m guessing that SolidWorks V6 is going to be a massive failure if they cannot get certain things under control:

1: Informed customers will shoot down the cloud
2: Lack of a local implementation option will kill CAD in the Cloud in its tracks
3: Pricing options have the potential to derail the entire plan
4: Terms such as long-term viability, responsibility for security, access, and real ownership of data could prevent all but irresponsible risk-takers from buying in.
5: Reliability of complex systems decreases with the addition of more complex subsystems. Adding an internet connection as a critical path to your CAD process will not improve its reliability.
6: Costs for this type of arrangement  will not decrease. You still need everything you needed before but now you also need a more reliable internet connection , and a faster internal network. The internet connection is something that is beyond your control .

I personally believe that Dassault is playing fast and loose with the reputation of the SolidWorks brand. We have seen a lot of changes in SolidWorks over the years, but nothing as potentially destructive as what DS is up to here. It seems clear that DS mgt outside of the SolidWorks ranks (if such a thing truly exists anymore) does not understand the existing SW customer base, or is trying to turn SW into an unneeded Sketchup competitor.

The cloud may be a reasonable home for a lot of things, but CAD for small business is not one of them. The opacity of official public statements raises its own cloud of credibility, and the claim that Catia Lite will be a mainstream competitor is beyond what I can believe. SolidWorks was a product and a company that I used to believe in, but I believe the engine pushing the train is derailed, and the only way to save it is to cut it loose. I think if former SW employees were to be able to speak candidly, many of them would mourn some of the changes.

28 Replies to “Major Cloud Failures Cannot Be Ignored”

  1. Legal gymnastics, unpredictability, and caprice are the hallmarks of totalitarian regimes. Welcome to the new world order, where sovereignty of any but the empire will never again be recognized.

  2. Insurance coverage for data corruption. SW models already die in their sleep. An inscrutable database on the cloud will solve all Solidworks bugs. Maybe not.

  3. Add to the list of why anyone who promotes the cloud for any data storage or transmission perpetrates fraud.

    Die cloud vampires. Die and just go away. Don’t forget to take this terminally flawed business model with you when you go. I can’t believe that Autodesk is trying to promote Fusion 360 when they know all this stuff too and evidently don’t care. Dittos Dassault.

  4. Another major Cloud hack attack Feb. 1, 2013

    Bank of America online banking goes down, Feb. 1, 2013, wonder how many rent/mortgage checks weren’t processed? We don’t use online baking very much, thank goodness

  5. Yes DotCom redux with all the grandiose claims and nothing to really back it up in reality. The monumental nature of the fraudulent claims by companies that push the cloud need to have public scrutiny on a regular basis so this failed model can be ended.

    Read the PR market speak stuff from CEO’s and then read the TOS for what they want to sell you. Any questions of their faith in their own products to deliver as stated is disproved by their very own words of legal evasion for any problems cloud usage creates for customers. Blatant liars is the kindest thing you could say for anyone who pushes this stuff.

  6. Roly, great article! Scary stuff. Over the last year, I’ve begun migrating lots of mundane cloud-based items into more segregated locations so exactly that sort of hack cannot take out everything I do (not using Google for search or the Chrome browser, unlinking from things like Google’s Reader to other options, etc.). Never had Apple stuff, so the iProblems aren’t an issue. Linking all your devices/accounts is apparently very convenient for both users and hackers alike. Caveat emptor.

  7. Wow, did anyone see this storm-cloud interview with Steve Wozniak? Here’s a snippet:

    “He added: “With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away” through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to.

    “I want to feel that I own things,” Wozniak said. “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.”


  8. The concept of the Cloud certainly causes all of us a lot of angst when it comes to the effect on our own operations. But does not “the Cloud” only mean that application execution and maybe data storage are not PC based? I remember using an IBM PC1 (circa 1980?) as a dumb terminal to access the company mainframe to run engineering calculations and product selections. And at the time, I thought this was totally wonderful, because I used to have to send the input data by teletype and have someone at the computer center actually input the data and send it to me overnight. So, by all definitions of “the Cloud”, perhaps the Cloud has been around much longer than is commonly perceived.

    So, I posed this question to a friend who has been an IT guy since the IBM 360. He confirmed to me that the Cloud is just a new name for an old concept. Using a remote computer for computation and/or storage of data. He also said that this can be a good idea, but depending on the security necessay for the client, there are two significant options. The classic highly secure approach is on a mainframe computer which usually has a mission essential operating system that is almost impossible to hack, or on a commercial blade server (or client server) type system that is somewhat easy to hack. I think we all know that Visa and Mastercard are on mainframe systems, as most of the financial community as well as the Department of Defense.

    “The Cloud” could be a wonderful idea (if you have the connection bandwidth), if your Cloud happens to be a mainframe computer. What do you think the chances that DSS is going to write SolidWorks to run on a mainframe computer???

    I think about 0. But they will try to sell it to you as if it were…………….

  9. The cloud is a scam. Stay away from it. The entire notion that you would put your IP or that of your client(s) on the cloud is preposterous to say the least. Let me or my company be the determiner of how I/We deal with My/Our data.

  10. Top,

    There is a TON of questions Dassault has not answered. It is not them only though as all these cloud cloud for CAD vendors are guilty of avoiding responsibility and answers. Ha Ha, “unused cpu cycles” on the secretaries PCs. Have not heard that bit of nonsense before so at least the claims are getting more entertaining and creative with new buzzword phrases .

  11. In one of my trade rags mention was made of software to allow the construction of a cloud within the corporate firewall. The two questions this engenders are:

    1. If SW can be made to multi-task on a cloud, why can’t it be made to do so on a quad, hexa or octacore machine? This question tickled the back of my mind when I first saw Charles demo this technology years ago.
    2. Will SW be installable on a cloud of the corporate user’s choice within their firewall? The software I ran across made a point of mentioning that a local cloud would make use of all those unused CPU cycles on all the secretaries PCs.

  12. Right now SolidWorks 2012 does about 90 percent of what I need to do my job, there a few things that will improve in 2013. If Cloud CAD is the only upgrade path for SolidWorks, we will look at other CAD software.

    The lack of clarity from SolidWorks is the biggest issue, some cloud features might actually be useful. All I can do is adopt a wait and see approach. Companies have a lot of historical CAD data tied up in SolidWorks, it will take them a number of years to transfer fully to a new system DS or another.

    Only time will tell.

  13. Had a ring from my Australia based VAR this morning chasing up on the possibility of my upgrading from SW2009. I think they ring once a year when they are getting hungry…
    I told him I wouldn’t be spending any more on SW because Catia lite was coming next year. Ahhhh…you what? Yes you have a new program coming out, don’t you?…..
    ……………………………….Well….we’ll keep you in mind.(click)
    All in all it was a fairly truncated call… 😉

  14. I understand your frustrations, but we all knew it had to happen eventually – first the announcement of the “kernel” change – then multiplying the issue by announcing the Cloud move. I have heard that both local and Cloud versions will be available – but we all know going from the parasolid to another kernel presents issues of its own. DS appears to be willing to let SW become a product they will not continue to develop – and the focus will change to a “CATIA Lite” product – which they said they would never do. Seems to me like I remember a product called “Pro-E Jr.” that was a dismal failure. Devon mentioned a “locally owned/managed onsite private Cloud” and for many companies this might be the solution – but may be way too early to tell. Since both Inventor and especially Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology seem to be making “inroads” into the market place, though both by different methods (Inventor by selling out the farm to Corporate guys with no real knowlegde of users needs) and Solid Edge from Siemens by continuing to introduce new technology – in the product – driven by customer requests and – not in the Cloud. I would venture a guess that IF Siemens had put the Synchronous Technology into the Parasolid Kernel (which DS leases from Siemens ) – we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion – but they didn’t and I believe DS is upset and sometimes we do dumb things when we are upset – usually with a price to pay – unfortunately the user usually pays. DS can probably “afford” to do this, but I know most SMB’s aren’t afforded that luxury.

  15. Relying on offsite providers to store your engineering design data is risky. A locally owned/managed onsite private Cloud is preferable, in my opinion.

    I’ve worked on a few government contracts where NO data what so ever was allowed to be transferred or stored on the internet.

  16. Read the DSS annual report to stockholders. It is scary. The focus is on legal defense of their software technology. And the cloud will be the next big thing. My read is SELL.

  17. regarding the security of my files on the cloud, the one argument dassault kept repeating was, your office computer is more prone to malware and spyware than a cloud server. last year’s sony PSP network security breach makes me doubt that.

    and even if that would be the case, it’s one thing my files getting stolen on my local computer, it’s another, files from tens of thousand of users get stolen from the cloud. as a hacker, who would you target? a small business with hundreds of potentially interesting files, or the cloud with a gazillion files?

    that’s exactly why the license agreement will read something like: hey, if we fuck up, if your files get stolen, we’re sorry, but you’re on your own. sorry, sadface.
    if the cloud would be so secure they’d add a policy that for each corrupted or stolen file you get 10’000$ – fat chance that will be in the license agreement.

    hey, i’d sign up for the cloud version if the license agreement read: if one of your files get stolen from the cloud, you’re allowed to smash a pie in the face of dassault’s CEO.

  18. Well there is no saving SW. Dassault clearly have killed it off having formed plans to do so probably since about 2006. There has been a lot of guarded silence and a fair bit of corporate BS about the transition but it hardly disguises whats going on.
    To my way of thinking the only reason we are still getting updates (scraped together from very minor and easy to do tweaks, and lately resorting to trolling for a list of pet annoyances to pad it out some more) is that the cloud version is late ie has been revised a few times because it doesn’t perform as intended/expected or is more complicated to implement than anticipated.
    Actually I think they would desperately like to get SW interred and get their miraculous and shiny cloud in peoples faces except that they need to keep the revenue coming in during the delay. I guess its like playing ‘Here comes the bride’ several times until the car finally pulls up. There still has to be a belief in the board room that the cloud is such a winner, so inevitable, that SW can be abandoned the moment its out. This is an over confident call they made and persisted with despite the feedback and that has painted them into a corner. Talk of the market deciding which would prevail was wanton nonsense although the market may well end up deciding on the fate of Dassault as a midrange provider.
    Obviously too SW marketing still view users as easily farmable and indeed a fair number are. Pulling in a friendly well known user from the community and pushing him out in front of the crowd to re-engage the ol’ community magic with ‘we care’ banter apparently still has some charm. I think it reveals something somewhat cynical and parasitic about the way the company actually has played/exploited its customers interests in the nicest possible way for marketing purposes though. In the crunch there is apparently little compunction about how users are to be manipulated, lied to even, to perpetuate sales and profits, even though this major screw up is wholly the company’s doing. Never mind the indulgent fostering of the zombie blog squad. And yes I know a number of them still don’t consider that they were made convenient use of.
    Its not hard to see why Dassault would impose a rent your CAD scheme on their customers with this sort of self serving outlook. As Bill Clinton might have said ‘Its the money, stupid!’
    IMO SW was a really great venture before Dassault messed it up. It wasn’t perfect but at least it was a fairly decent attempt at being a CAD provider in tune with its customers. I would suggest the repute of Solidworks the brand, is dying with the existing software. In fact I think Dassault find themselves starting out again from scratch whether they like it or not. Its just a bit presumptuous to mangle the mission and change that much and still call it Solidworks.

  19. Cloud failures everywhere. Failure to have any provable examples of serious cad creation on line. Refusal to spell out liabilities to customers and indemnifications and guarantees to those same customers as proof the companies who offer this stuff even believe in their own products. Refusal to spell out exact costs of everything involved— something to hide perhaps? No guarantees of being able to work offline with these programs as an autonomous install if you wish meaning no internet no work. Lets not talk about the forced breaches of security here as you have to rely on an electronic sieve to conduct your business. Oh, and the sieve is not owned or controlled by these cloud companies so they lie when they guarantee you can work better and faster on the cloud than you could with your own equipment in your own facility.

    How can there be any basis for trust and faith in the cloud when the proponents have become so expert at evasions and double talk and have no proof of concept?

  20. I agree having to choose between desktop and cloud would be a mistake at this point but offering both is an option for many. If the cloud brings aspects that the desktop can’t then it is a value. The question is how well will the hosted and desktop versions work together. If it is an “all in” choice it will fail. For example I switched our company to a google Apps 3 years ago and have never looked back. Docs on the other hand is hard since so many on our staff are tied to MS Office. The place where docs excells is in collaboration and sharing. That is not offered in the MS Office version and make us choose the cloud for those applications. We will see how DS aligns the two.

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