The world of CAD and SOLIDWORKS solutions has changed drastically in the past several years. Not so long ago, the idea of moving your SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software and product management data to the cloud seemed crazy. Today your feeds are likely inundated by talk of cloud solutions and collaborative platforms. By the way, if you keep hearing about the cloud but you are unsure what it means, you should check out this article from PC Magazine. Whether you realize it or not, manufacturers and engineering teams are in the early stages of a digital transformation of CAD and design tools. Internal IT resource limitations and technology constraints, ongoing SOLIDWORKS administration and management, and cost have long been the three main pain points for SOLIDWORKS desktop users.
For the first time in 20+ years, the landscape of your product design tools is changing with the shift to cloud solutions built to address these three pain points. Meanwhile, engineering and IT teams at manufacturers and design firms are left trying to figure out what it all means, how it can help you, and most importantly, how it plays into the future of your current SOLIDWORKS tools that you love. This blog will answer these questions and offer some options to help you better adapt to a rapidly changing SOLIDWORKS CAD solutions ecosystem.
Are You at the Fork in the Road of Your SOLIDWORKS Cloud Strategy?
Though it feels like a new thing, the digital transformation of CAD solutions has been happening for years. As expected, the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform has gained momentum. This “Software as a Service” platform from Dassault Systems features a series of integrated cloud design and collaboration applications, making it the SOLIDWORKS heir apparent.
On the other hand, some providers began to offer the desktop application you know and love leveraging various cloud-hosted solutions to help engineering leaders, their distributed teams, and their supporters in IT with PDM and collaboration. As the creators of EpiGrid, our approach at Converge to cloud-hosting has evolved to a comprehensive “SOLIDWORKS Hosted as a Service”. This offering allows engineering and product design teams to move their existing SOLIDWORKS tools to the cloud and eliminate the typical IT resource constraints and ongoing administrative burdens. These complimentary offerings make us the only provider offering multiple solution paths that enable the digital transformation of SOLIDWORKS customers.
What if I Go Left and Choose a True SaaS Solution? (3DEXPERIENCE®)
Make no mistake, 3DEXPERIENCE and “Software as a Service” platforms like it are the future of CAD solutions. Since its launch a few years ago, we have guided some startups and medium-sized businesses to the platform to execute their cloud transformation. However, despite the recent momentum, the adoption of 3DEXPERIENCE has been slower than expected for several reasons.
- Change Averse: General resistance to change and deep love for their existing SOLIDWORKS tools stands at the top of the list. If there is one thing we have learned from supporting engineers for 15+ years, it would be that this group of professionals does not embrace change.
- Integration of SOLIDWORKS: Even though 3DEXPERIENCE has integrated SOLIDWORKS into the platform, users still see it as a departure from the norm. Perhaps if the 3DEXPERIENCE platform were just a new CAD tool, the adoption would be easier and faster.
- More than CAD: Far more than just CAD, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform inserts cloud into the workflow and, with it, an IT conversation about performance, security, and integration with existing tools and workflows. Again, highlighting the fundamental gap between engineering and IT that cloud solutions overcome.
What if I Go Right and Use the SOLIDWORKS Hosted as a Service? (SHaaS)
Unfortunately, for most engineering and product design teams, the 3DEXPERIENCE path represents a significant learning curve and changes to workflows, investments in the CAD tools, infrastructure, legacy data, and system integrations. Fortunately, there is an option for these customers looking for all the benefits of a cloud solution without changing from the existing SOLIDWORKS tools they love and have invested so heavily in.
Our industry-first “SOLIDWORKS Hosted as a Service” offering combines managed cloud- hosting, CAD managed services, and SOLIDWORKS solution sales and support into one turnkey offering that eliminates the typical IT constraints and administrative burdens. This bundled offering enables you to take an incremental step to the cloud by moving your existing SOLIDWORKS workflows to a managed cloud solution saving you time and your company money.
While there are other providers offering hosted SOLIDWORKS PDM, here are a few questions we suggest you ask them before signing an agreement on the dotted line:
Question 1: Can they provide success stories they have for hosted PDM?
Question 2: Do they have options for hosting other SOLIDWORKS products?
Question 3: Do they offer other complementary services or solutions to move SOLIDWORKS to the cloud?
Do These Paths Ever “Converge”?
Without a doubt, the “cloud” is the future of CAD solutions. The question is not if cloud solutions will take over your CAD workflows but when. Perhaps you are progressive in your approach, ready to embrace change, and you choose the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Maybe you are more locked into your existing SOLIDWORKS workflows and tools and choose SHaaS (SOLIDWORKS Hosted as a Service). As the only provider offering complementary cloud solutions for SOLIDWORKS, we understand that both paths eventually “converge” to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. The only question is, “Which path will you choose for your cloud strategy?”