the business of computer-aided design
Issue #731 | April 17, 2012
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In This Issue
1. The Big Picture at Siemens PLM Software
- HD PLM Vision
- The Three Pillars
- Active Workspace
2. How much free cloud storage is enough?
- The Catch
3. Out of the Inbox, and other regular columns.
The Big Picture at Siemens PLM Software
Bill Lewis is the product managing manager at Siemens PLM Software who provided me with an understanding of the vision Siemens PLM has for our industry.
HD PLM Vision
"It is a vision," he began, "it is not a product. HD PLM [high definition product lifecycle development] is how we view PLM solving the problem of complexity so that customers can make better decisions.
"We see this across our entire customer base," he explained. "There is a huge increase of complexity in products, in the business environment (due to mergers and acquisition). Complexity makes it harder to make decisions -- not to mention the decreased timeline in which to make them. I'm not talking just about cars and planes, but today even household goods, like washing machines that now have software running in them.
"Engineering processes are a series of decisions. HD PLM is enabling decision making."
The Three Pillars
So HD PLM is the vision, and this vision is the foundation for three pillars that Siemens PLM established. The pillars guide the company in developing all of its software, not just PLM.
I. Intelligently Integrated Information: "Integrated" means the information works together; "intelligently" means understanding how information is integrated. For instance, in NX the mass model is validated automatically to determine it still meets design needs.
II. Future-proof Technology: Siemens PLM recognizes that customers have a mixed bag of technology, and not necessarily from Siemens, and so it makes sure its technology works with third party tools, older standards, and is able to upgrade (upgrades tend to break old file formats).
III. HD User Experience: All data and functions from PLM are presented to users has if it was designed just for each one of them.
As an example of the three-legged stool on which HD PLM vision is seated, Mr Lewis described Active Workspace. This software is a high-speed search engine that slices and dices data from many sources. For instance, you want to change a part in a design, and AW tells you all the ways the part impacts the model. The best way to understand AW is to watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n73qOWzFm9I
As an example of I, AW tells you what happens if a part is replaced: how will this impact all other parts (example of intelligent info integrated)? As an example of II, it doesn't just search for Siemens data, but searches all customer databases (example of open). and as an example of III, AW looks different from anything else Siemens PLM has done before: at first all you see is the search field (example of UX)
upFront.eZine: Active Workspace seems to be using a really fast search engine; where was it developed?
Bill Lewis: It uses open source search, SOLR technology.
upFront.eZine: It's showing a huge amount of data. Where does it get all that data?
Mr Lewis: An initial setup required; has its own data model that defines how the data is stored; must map other data to AW's database. Indices data from other system; it is a cache for high speed searching, not a database warehouse. AW is not an authoring tool.
upFront.eZine: Who are your competitors in this area. For instance, would you consider the EU-funded Exelead search engine acquired by Dassault Systemes a compeitor?
Mr Lewis: Exelead could evolve into a competitor to Active Workspace, but at this point it is a platform, and not a direct competitor. We think AW is pretty unique. We hear things about data aggregation from some competitors, but there is no 1:1 compeitor.
upFront.eZine: What is the pricing on Active Workspace? And how is it licensed?
Mr Lewis: It is consistent with the pricing of data consumers connected with Teamcenter, and itt includes all translators [for accessing data from files]. It is licensed on its own. While it is a standalone product, it requires Teaacenter, but does not need to be used on NX sites.
upFront.eZine: Active Workspace has a fairly unique user interface. Can we expect to see elements of its UX [user experience] in other software from Siemens PLM?
Mr Lewis: Its UX shows some things that are possible with user interface design, and so some of it might migrate.
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How Much Free Cloud Storage is Enough?
Disk space is cheap, roughly 10 cents a GB. So it's interesting to watch how much free storage cloud companies like SugarSync and Autodesk give out. (Cloud storage is just a user friendly version of FTP, the Internet's file transport protocol.)
The initial amounts were modest. Thought-leader Dropbox gave a modest 2GB, with 500KB increments if you got friends to sign up. CAD-cloud leader Autodesk halves the initial amount to 1GB, but then triples it to 3GB after you pay an annual subscription of several hundred dollars a year.
HP offers 5GB free along with their free ePrint service (catch: you have to buy one of their printers).
These miserly limits could only go up. As far as potential customers are concerned, the free 1GB and 2GB offerings are mere opening bids. All-out war would be launched as vendors joust for market supremacy -- or just to get noticed, as the case may be.
Box.net (no relation to Dropbox) was the first, giving away 50GB free if you (1) installed their Android app and (2) uploaded a certain number and type of files. I got my account, got my 50GB, and haven't really used it since.
Cloud storage vendors gave another 5GB or 7.5GB free once you had snared sufficient customers on their behalf. I noticed last week that SugarSync seems to have upped its limits, for I now have 21.25GB free storage with them. Oh, and I just noticed I have 19.25GB with Dropbox. (They had a promotion of 50GB free for every picture uploaded from a mobile device.)
After uploading all the files I ever figure I need on the cloud, I've used up 1.33GB on SugarSync and 0.8GB on Dropbox. When I asked HP why 5GB instead of another number, they said 5GB was sufficient for most customers. It would appear they were correct in their estimation.
Cloud storage vendors don't want you having storage free. They want you to pay. The original business plan was simple: as customers need more space, they start paying. (A commercial account starts at 100GB disk space and $200/year.) But with the sign-up wars making so much space free, vendors can only snag paying customers now through optional services.
Problem is, most customers don't need any optional service. And competitors are bound to offer certain optional services free to capture customers. Meanwhile, the electrical bills mount up. Maybe Steve Jobs was right and Drew Houston wrong: maybe cloud storage is just a feature, maybe it's not a viable business.
Another catch: With my free accounts with Autodesk, Box, Dropbox, and SugarSync, who's going to synchronize all the files stored on all of these file synchronization services?
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Out of the Inbox
Stuff we wonder about: why the CAM [computer aided manufacturing software] industry is so fragmented, and why digital-prototyper and maker enthusiast Autodesk isn't embracing CAM with the enthusiasm it shows for simulation software.
From today's Randall Newton's GraphicSpeak e-newsletter: Statasys of USA and Objet of Israel are merging. The 3D printing technology of each company is different, so this make a good match. Current Stratasys ceo Scott Crump becomes chairman of the board, while current Objet ceo David Reis becomes Stratasys CEO. http://gfxspeak.com/2012/04/16/3d-printer-makers-stratasys-and-objet-to-merge/
Jimmy Bergmark updates his JTB FlexReport license usage software to v7 by adding automatic chart creation. http://blog.jtbworld.com/2012/04/jtb-flexreport-70-introduces-automatic.html
Percentages are meaningless without base numbers, but we'll report this one anyhow: Vuuch, had "more than 400 percent growth in bookings for the first quarter of 2012, in a year over year comparison" after landing reseller agreements with PTC reseller TriStar and others. http://www.vuuch.com
From huge increase to huge decrease: QuadriSpace says that this year's Share3D PDF 2012 generates PDF files that are "up to 95% smaller," larger files benefiting the most. http://http://www.quadrispace.com/s/2012/index.php
From creating PDFs to deconstructing PDFS: Gstarsoft incorporates Visual Integrity's pdf2cad into its GstarCAD 2012 software for converting vector-based PDF files DXF drawings. Experience the CAD software and the converter for 30 day, no charge, from http://www.gstarcad.net/download.php
From the clear to the unclear: PDF to DXF, I understand; what I don't understand is 3DSwYm Social Innovation platform with features like "Create the Company Dynamic Referential." From Dassault Systemes. http://www.3ds.com/products/3dswym/
From the unclear to the clearly legal: EOS holds 50+ patents on laser sintering manufacturing, and last week they filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Phenix Systems after warning the allegedly guilty party over USA patent 5,753,274 and 6,042,774. http://www.eos.info
They showed it to us at last month's Autodesk Media Summit, and now the company is shipping ForceEffect Motion simulation app for iOS devices. It builds and test mechanical systems with scissor lifts, windshield wipers, automobile engines, robotics, and so on -- just by lifting a finger. No-charge from http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/autodesk-forceeffect-motion/id512045820
Some weeks ago we broke the story on Vectorworks' cloud offering; now they're adding CadFaster|Collaborate for distributing and collaborating on compressed 3D CAD model files. $99, introductory price. https://secure.vectorworks.net/third_party_store/
On Our Blogs
These were some of the news items that were posted during the last week at our WorldCAD Access blog <worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:
View your CAD drawings on 220dpi screens, eventually, predicts Intel
Sense this: Geomagic dives into hardware
...and on Gizmos Grabowski blog <http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/gizmos/>:
Letter to the Editor
"In your article about ClearEdge3D, you mention that, 'With beams and columns are obscuring pipes, could ClearEdge 3D extract them?' I ran across this earlier today, which could be a part of that (probably distant) future, MIT Scientists Use Lasers to See Around Corners:
http://www.tomsguide.com/us/MIT-Lasers-Vision-Corners-science,news-14577.html . Thanks as always for your great e-zine."
- Peter Lawton
"Who is less evil, Amazon or book publishers?"
- Mathew Ingram, GigaOM
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Entire contents copyright 2012 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $250 and up. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "WorldCAD Access" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.